Visit Sterling House garden in East Molesey

PUBLISHED: 07:21 23 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:21 23 June 2014

The woodland walk under the willow

The woodland walk under the willow


This month, we pay a visit to Sterling House, a tranquil oasis of verdant lawns and gentle planting, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Hampton Court in East Molesey...

Need to know…

Sterling House, East Molesey KT8 9DN

Open Saturday June 28 and Sunday June 29 (2pm-6.30pm)

Admission £4, children £2





When Deirdre and Edward Goddard moved to Sterling House in East Molesey in 1982, it’s fair to say that the garden offered scope for some improvement. “There were several large mature trees, a very basic layout, a rather dilapidated swimming pool, an equally dilapidated summer house, totally overgrown beds and lawns, and little else,” Deirdre recalls. Getting the garden ‘under control’ was the first priority, and after purchasing two adjoining pieces of land at the bottom of the garden, they had the challenge of creating a garden that was now double the size at nearly one acre.

To help them get to grips with it all, the couple took a brief course in garden design at RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking, which left them feeling better informed to work on the layout of the garden, with a more in-depth knowledge of scale, hard landscaping, structure, shape and planting ideas. Their first decision was to section 
off part of the newly acquired land into the working engine of the garden with composting sections 
and benches for propagation. Then came the harmoniously planted, curvaceous garden beds that are the basis of this restful garden. 

Go with the flow

“The new scale of the garden meant that the beds had to be deep and bold in shape,” says Deidre. “We avoided using straight lines wherever possible, and used shapes that flowed from one bed to another. The use of colour has always fascinated me and, throughout, the colour schemes are designed to flow from one bed to another to provide a totally harmonious feel.”

Creating a sense of being in a secluded English country garden was a considered aim from the outset. This has been translated by layered planting with year-round interest, using a palette of gentle tones. A lovely association, for example, is a bed of multi-stemmed silver birch, underplanted with Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ on a densely green carpet of Pachysandra. In other areas of the garden, pastel-toned roses draw the eye, including the soft pink ‘Surrey’, cascading standards and the white ‘Meidland’.

The expanse of aqua from the pristine swimming pool is fringed with combinations of pale blues, mauves and pinks from choices such as textural Salvia nemerosa ‘East Friesland’ and spires of Sidalcea ‘Elsie Heugh’. As the season progresses, stronger shades are introduced in some of the island beds, with colours changing from lilac to deep golds in autumn.

The essence of the garden, however, is the play with tones of green, beautifully orchestrated in a meld of immaculate lawns, low buxus framing, punctuated with clipped spheres, and a dappled woodland walk, along with the built-up layers of foliage.

Opening the gates

Although the garden, evolved slowly over the last 32 years by its keen owners, has opened previously for local charities, this June will be the first time it will be part of the National Gardens Scheme. “It’s a very exciting prospect,” says Deirdre. “We look forward to welcoming garden enthusiasts at the end of the month when our garden truly comes into its own.”




Get the look...

• Go for gentle planting schemes with harmonious colours that flow seamlessly from area to area

• Use layered planting with a canopy of trees, as well as shrubs, herbaceous plants and especially carpets of underplanting

• Throughout the garden, play on the use of greens

• Create densely-planted, deep curving flower beds

• Don’t be afraid to include repetition of planting

• Consider a computerised irrigation system to ensure balanced watering

• Encourage wildlife with a naturally planted pond and a number of bird boxes through the garden

• Plan a mix of seating in both hidden and open spots so you can really make the most of the garden



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