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Sit Down with Garden Designer Posy Gentles

By Sarah Wood | Monday, 29 August 2022

Each Quince holiday house has a unique character, and the fabulous interiors are complemented by the gardens, all created by renowned garden designer and plantswoman Posy Gentles.

Each garden is designed to create the perfect setting for the house, whether it is a woodland garden in the New Forest or a courtyard garden in the Cotswolds, where guests can relax and enjoy their surroundings.

Today we are sitting down with Posy to understand how each garden is created.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I work closely with Sarah Wood, Quince’s interior designer. All of Quince’s houses have something uniquely special about them, a certain original character that Sarah accentuates with her amazing decoration and furnishing, and that also influences the nature of the garden. Each garden is very much connected with the house – together we create a really individual mood. All the gardens are real gardens that change with the seasons, have scent and texture, and attract birds and bees. Then we add a few unexpected elements like an outdoor bathroom! We always plant trees for shade and privacy, but also because planting a tree is important for the environment, and when I visit a new project, I take a wander to see what plants and trees are thriving in the locality.

How do you develop the design?

First, I spend time in the garden, taking photographs, sketching and making notes on what is already inside and outside the garden. We like to reuse existing plants and features where possible – sometimes a heavy, unattractive shrub or tree can be pruned in a new way to give light and movement. One of Quince’s houses is set by a water meadow, so we took cuttings of willow to create privacy. The view of the garden from the house is a very important consideration, and I look at each window as a frame. I consider practicalities – where you might want to eat your breakfast and where would be perfect for an early evening gin and tonic. I want to create elements of privacy and destination even in the smallest gardens. I muse a lot than draw up a plan. I’m regularly present throughout the development of the design and always lead the actual planting as this is an integral part of the creative process.

Gardens grow and change, so I visit each garden at least once a year working with the onsite team to keep the gardens healthy and beautiful.

How do you think designing a garden for a holiday house differs from designing a garden for
someone’s home?

Quince gardens differ from many other holiday houses in that they are designed to be like private gardens. My designs for Quince use plants that require little maintenance, and offer interest throughout the year which is also the sort of garden that many private clients choose to have, particularly as we are all looking at planting that can survive long dry spells. However, we avoid the lumpen heavy evergreen planting and sterile stretches of grass reminiscent of supermarket car parks that some holiday houses favour, using instead plants like lavender, rosemary and grasses for a long season of interest, and self seeders like erigeron and verbena bonariensis to soften hard lines.

Where do you get your love of gardens from?

My grandmother. When I was five, she gave me a patch of garden. She taught me the Latin names of plants and how to grow them.

When you aren’t busy working on gardens and garden designs, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like working in my own narrow town garden, breaking all the rules and experimenting with plants. I also enjoy walking across the salt marshes near Faversham with my small poodle Maus, swimming in the sea, going to the pictures, reading novels and chatting.