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Little Cliff

When artist and gardener Debbie Bell swapped rural Somerset for life in Lyme Regis on the coast of Dorset in the 1990s she discovered a whole new world of plants.


GAP Photos/Carole Drake

Feature No:   3684 

Qty of Images:    63 


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'I found that virtually anything would grow here, including the Mediterranean plants that had failed in my previous garden. It was really exciting', recalls Debbie. Since 2009 she and her partner Peter have lived at Little Cliff, a 1930s former chauffeur's residence extended to create a large, modern family home with an acre of steeply sloping garden and spectacular views across Lyme Bay. Since then Debbie and her gardener Spike have worked hard to blend the traditional English garden style found in gardens like Sissinghurst in Kent, with a coastal garden look using exotics and tender plants to capitalise on the site's frost free location. Regular visits to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens along the coast near Weymouth provided lots of inspiration as well as a source of unusual plants, as did Desert to Jungle, a nursery specialising in large leaved exotics just outside Taunton. A sequence of distinctive garden rooms now steps down the hillside, linked by exuberant planting and ever present glimpses of the sea. Immediately behind the house the box edged borders are a cottagey mix of exuberant herbaceous perennials flowering in purple, blues and pinks including agapanthus, hardy geraniums, salvias, echinops and eryngiums, swirling around clipped evergreens including box, bay, lime green conifers and even standard olives. 'I've always loved topiary and would have it in any garden of mine. It's especially great for winter structure.' On the east side of the garden a path edged with standard bay lollipops and a mix of lavenders leads from the house to Debbie's studio, a small timber building on stilts with a little balcony set with table and chairs.



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