CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Permission to land at Heathside garden in Cobham

PUBLISHED: 19:57 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 20:05 30 July 2014

The vista across the parterre

The vista across the parterre


Created by a delightful couple, Margaret Arnott and Terry Bartholomew, who met when they were working as cabin crew for British Airways, the garden at Heathside in Cobham is a beautiful landscape

Need to know…


Cobham KT11 2QH

Visitors welcome by appointment and NGS openings.

Find out more at







Having worked together on board Concorde, it’s fair to say that Margaret Arnott and Terry Bartholomew now enjoy a rather more sedate pace of life tending the beautiful garden of their bungalow home in Cobham.

Since retiring from British Airways a few years ago, the couple have certainly made the most of every moment in their garden.

“After a career of working as cabin crew, which was lots of people and no fresh air, we now have lots of fresh air and no people!” laughs Margaret. “We also have a garden that looks beautiful every day of the year and we can normally find a flower in bloom every day of the year too.”

Set on a south-facing slope with sandy soil and an open sunny aspect, the third-of-an-acre plot was essentially a blank canvas on which they could really put their stamp. Working with a tight budget, yet boundless enthusiasm, the transformation began. Much of the garden needed to be rotovated, soil moved to create terraced levels with retaining walls, lawn grown from seed, and paths and steps put in. 

New plant palette

The only plants that remained were a monkey puzzle tree, a holly, an amelanchier and a laurel, so there was also the challenge of totally planting the space. Guiding the decisions was an aim to create a garden of year- round interest, with exuberant planting mixed with formality.

“The monkey puzzle tree produces seed every year, which my father then grows into new trees in the garden,” adds Margaret.

Whereas Margaret already had a passion for gardening inspired by her parents, for Terry it has become an interest honed over the process of creating their vision.

“I design the layout and planting, while Terry builds everything needed to enhance this, such as making metal obelisks to use as plant supports,” says Margaret.

To give a structural framework to the garden, they planted lots of evergreens, such as pittosporum, photinia, choisya, pyracantha and yew, put a parterre at the top of the garden using box grown from cuttings, built a small pond and widened the patio by the house for entertaining. Terry also hand-built a garden shed and summerhouse, and two greenhouses were added to the garden for growing on cuttings.

Selecting the floral infill was guided by the very dry soil with lots of sumptuous, easy-care choices such as daisies, phlox, rudbeckias and poppies. At this time of year, herbaceous perennials are found in abundance, along with urns brimming with colourful begonias and pelargoniums.

“Inspiration has come from visits since childhood to RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Shows as well as the late Christopher Lloyd’s love of bold colours,” says Margaret.

After entering the first ever BBC Gardener of the Year in 2000 and being selected as a regional finalist, Margaret and Terry decided to open their garden through the National Gardens Scheme the following year and now welcome visitors annually to share in their creation.

Open to visitors

“We are so happy to contribute to charity and enjoy meeting garden lovers – and those who do not know they love it yet!” says Margaret. “They particularly enjoy walking around the many paths, the view from the summerhouse, the green lawn, the 52 varieties of hostas in pots with no holes in the leaves and the enormous amount of colour!

“The one thing they always say is that they cannot believe that we have done the garden all ourselves with no help!”




Get the look...

• Create terraced levels with retaining walls

• Design an evergreen structure with shrubs

• Clip topiary into shapes such as spheres and spirals

• Choose flowers for each season, from spring bulbs to late perennials

• Group containers together for maximum impact

• Use urns and obelisks as focal points of the garden

• Create little areas of interest

• Place seating to take in the vistas

• Add water features for a relaxing, tranquil sound

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:06

Education expert Dr Ryan Hinchey, Coordinator of College Counselling at ACS International School, with campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, answers your questions

Read more
Yesterday, 11:34

Surrounded by reservoirs and located on the banks of the famous river from which it takes its name, Staines-upon-Thames (as it is now called) is a town working to reshape its future and celebrate its picturesque riverside setting

Read more
Mon, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Mon, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search