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Uncovering the beauty of an urban gem in Tilehurst

PUBLISHED: 11:36 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 11:36 29 June 2015

With twists and turns it’s hard to spot where the garden ends

With twists and turns it’s hard to spot where the garden ends

Naomi Slade

It’s a journey of discovery for Naomi Slade this month as she visits the small but delightful garden of a Tilehurst home

A dramatic Datura catches the eyeA dramatic Datura catches the eye

In Tilehurst on the outskirts of Reading is a tiny but action-packed garden. Filled with ideas and ornament this is the work of Iris Geater, who is chairman of the Thames Valley Flower Club and is four-times winner of Reading in Bloom. She has been a keen gardener for 25 years: “It is brilliant!” she enthuses, “But the grass area is getting smaller and smaller!”

Down either side of the vanishing lawn are deep, well-stocked borders with a fairly limited core palette and different colours and forms to create a sense of cohesion. There is purple, bronze, green and gold in heucheras, ferns and acers. The colours of a variegated acer are then replicated in a salix a little further along, while the shape of the lily flowers is echoed by the blooming hostas.

This base layer of foliage texture is then overlaid with more unexpected plants. A potted Datura is dramatic against the sky, pineapple lilies, Eucomis, thrive, as do unusual Campanula and Tradescantia.

A peaceful spot to relax in after the gardening effortA peaceful spot to relax in after the gardening effort

Each of the core plants is repeated and repeated, but Iris is unabashed about her favourites: “If I don’t like something it is out. I am quite ruthless!”

The design intentionally blurs the end of the garden so you are not quite sure where it finishes. This adds to the illusion of size and enables one to go on an actual journey of discovery. There are seating areas, sunny and shady planting, a greenhouse and productive area. Statues and little faces peer out at you from among the leaves and there is even room for a couple of chickens.

Iris in her garden with a couple of the awards she’s collectedIris in her garden with a couple of the awards she’s collected

“My garden is to share,” explains Iris. “The idea is that there are ideas that you can take home and that there is something there the whole time to see. I particularly love the acers, they are beautiful.”

This garden is food for thought. The flowing shade and shape in different plants gives a great sense of texture and depth that is highly effective and renders the tiny plot an idiosyncratic work of art.



Properties and gardens to visit in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire - If your green fingers are itching to get moving this spring, here’s a selection of properties with truly stunning gardens


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