A cottage garden with potting shed and garage in New England style painted in Farrow and Ball Lime White
Rear View
Rear View
A cottage garden with potting shed and garage in New England style painted in Farrow and Ball Lime White

Rebecca’s Garden Transformation

Author: Lauren Coleman

A couple of weeks ago Adam and I headed back to the home of Rebecca (of rvk_loves insta fame) to see how her and husband Ben are getting on with their renovations. Well as you can see from today’s post very well indeed. Over the coming weeks Rebecca will be taking over the Wednesday slot on Rock My Style sharing all the spaces they’ve made over since our last visit starting with the garden. Settle in ladies, you’re in for a treat.

Call us old before our time but Ben and I share a love for gardening and growing our own flowers, fruit and veg. We’d worked hard to transform our last garden and just as it was looking all established we decided to move! We instantly fell in love with our new house but the garden needed a lot of work. You can see from the before photos that other than a huge bay tree hedge and some shrubs, there were no flowers in the garden or even a flower bed. It was mainly just a big lawn with some crazy paving patio slabs and a dilapidated garage and shed. We hit the garden in two main stages, the first just a couple of weeks in {before we’d even finished a single room in the house, knowing that if we got plants in now, last Spring they’d start to establish before the summer}. We focused on the main part of the garden, away from the house that we’d be chopping around with building work. We had four huge conifer trees taken down which blocked half of our afternoon sunlight, dug out huge shrubs and took the garden back to a large square base of grass. A blank canvas.

We were lucky that the garden is flat and now light, open and airy since the big trees came down. We knew that we wanted lots of flower beds so set about digging out two long beds at each edge of the garden {Ben had planned this all and mapped it all out before we’d even bought the house} and then a set of beds going down the middle of the garden, creating four grass squares to add a bit of interest to an otherwise flat wide lawn. We measured up the garden, marked it all out and then started digging up the turf to create our new beds. We have a gravel, rope edged, path running down the middle and across but the rest we’ve planted up.
The middle beds are kept quite formal in structure, mirroring each other with David Austin roses, cordon fruit trees, lavender down the middle and a small box hedge on the outside. We then dot in dahlias and alliums throughout the season, again keeping this quite uniform. The middle has a galvanised dolly tub with a eucalptyus bush in and some lavender, the eucalyptus is evergreen so should add some interest in the winter at a time when everything else has died back. The outside beds though are a mix of cottage garden flowers, mainly perennial peonies, roses, delphiniums, lupins, echinacea with some annual sweet peas, dahlias and cosmos dotted in – I like these all being a bit wild. We also left a wild corner in the top left corner to plant fruit trees and I’m hoping next year it will have bluebells/cow parsley growing there. We put Hazel hurdle fence panels that, we found online, around the perimeter to unify the mix of hedging and grow things up.

We {I say we, of course it was Ben} then built a summerhouse at the end of the garden which gives a real focal point and has become my favourite part of the garden. It’s painted in Farrow & Ball Clunch with Vert De Terre accents and all the details can be found on my blog, Roses and Rolltops. We’ve stood bay trees and lots of hydrangeas in galvanised tubs outside it to pretty her up a little. I find most of the galvanised tubs and watering cans at antique markets/shops, it’s become quite the collection! But they last forever unlike terracotta pots.

Our next stage was once the kitchen extension was finished. We were SO happy the day that the crazy paving slabs got smashed up on day one of the diggers coming in. You’ll see more of the kitchen in an upcoming post but we finally got our dream of big sliding doors coming out onto a patio area and then leading onto the garden. With the house now extended in the style that we wanted, rather than the ugly 70s block plonked onto the back by the previous owners, we could create a wraparound patio terrace. We had to raise a lot of the existing patio up with hardcore and have it concreted over to be the same level as the kitchen. And then we demolished the shed and garage to rebuild these, again raising them so everything would be on the same level and built a couple of steps down to the lawn. Our garden is north facing so although gets plenty of sun in the summer, in the winter the patio probably won’t get any sun at all and so would go green. We chose gravel instead of patio slabs to counteract this and give more of a cottage garden feel. We laid slabs underneath and then topped with gravel.

Ben and his team built the new garage and greenhouse from scratch with timber cladding that we painted in Farrow & Ball Lime White. With all the heavy construction finished {at last!} it was time for the fun decorating bits like stringing up festoon lights {from Costco}, dotting pots around, digging out our garden table that Ben made from Singer stands and scaffold boards, planting up a rolltop bath with roses {as an ode to my blog name} and hanging some summery bunting. Our cantilever umbrella was a bargain from Ikea and the chairs are all a mismatch from antique markets and Ikea with The White Company seat pads to make them a bit more comfy.

The bath is painted in Farrow & Ball Railings as a contrast to the off white behind it. The greenhouse still needs glass fitting and some staging/beds creating in there but I’m so excited to have a dedicated place to start seeds off rather than using our spare bedrooms! It’s so good to be able to sit out and enjoy it all now and have people over for BBQs although there’s still a couple more projects we want to do with the other side of the patio like create a fire pit seating area, or an outdoor sofa and maybe a built in BBQ area. But that can wait until next year!

  • Bunting
  • Dolly Tub
  • Bistro Chair
  • Seat Cushions

Photography by Adam Crohill

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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26 thoughts on “Rebecca’s Garden Transformation

  1. This garden is splendid! What a transformation. I’ll take a little seat outside the summer house please with a glass of fizz! Looking forward to the next few Wednesdays xxx

  2. Can’t wait for the weekly Wednesday slot! I think Rebecca’s taste is amazing, she gets everything ‘just right’. Such a beautiful garden.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. We had a few plants from our last house that we wanted to get in the ground so it was quite good for making us get on with the garden straight up. If we’d have left it all until after finishing the house I think we’d have lost the will! X

  3. Oh my gosh Rebecca. This is just beautiful and I can’t believe how much you have achieved. I am sending this link to my husband pronto. He is the gardener amongst us (I tend to do it all wrong!!) and adores pottering in his greenhouse although I sincerely wish his looked as pretty as yours. Perhaps you could send Ben and his team round to knock one up for us?!!! Enjoy the rest of the summer in your gorgeous space xxx

    1. Thanks so much Lottie. Looks like you get some amazing produce from your garden so you must be doing something right! I hope we get a few more summery evenings x

  4. Rebecca this looks beautiful, the perfect mix of seating area/florals and personal details – I don’t know much about gardens but I know what I like and I like yours very much.

    It must be so much work, especially with your allotment AND the house renovations, I only wish I had half of your dedication x

    1. Ahh thanks Charlotte. Your garden looks fab though, glitter balls et all! Apart from watering on hot days and cutting the grass each week it’s actually v low maintenance. I should probably weed it more than I do but find by chucking loads of plants in they keep weeds down. We then just have a couple of big sessions in autumn and spring! Luckily ben does most of the allotment I just pick things/cook with them! X

  5. I love the four way split of the garden and the gravel paths! Also… By far the prettiest greenhouse I ever did see. You’ve given me heaps of ideas. Looking forward to the rest of your posts Rebecca!

    1. Thanks Naomi! I’ll pass on the greenhouse compliments to Ben. Glass is finally going in this week so I can’t wait to use it properly this winter/next spring xx

  6. Despite my best “I will not get sucked into Instagram” thing, I honestly LOVE this and your house updates. Its a good example of country done traditionally but not twee which I really struggle with. We’re just buying a forever country house that hasn’t been touched in 30 years so ALL the potential but cripes its going to be a lot of work.
    Few questions:
    1. Lopping down the trees – did you get surveys done of the ground soil? My husband is concerned that the trees will displace the house if we lop ours down but, like yours, it’ll make such a big difference to light. We’ve had some quotes and the tree surgeons said it would be fine but they ultimately want the cash for taking them down don’t they?!
    2. You don’t have a sceptic tank do you? Downside of country living and no experience. If anyone does, can you write about it please?
    3. What was required to get rid of the crazy paving? Just a digger and gravel? Did you do it yourself or get someone in?

    1. Ah thanks so much Rebecca. Sounds like an exciting project! Our trees were far enough away from the house that they wouldn’t impact on the foundations at all. These were all stupidly huge conifers which needed stumps grinding out but not crazy trailing roots like some trees. Our tree surgeon quotes varied soo much by over £1000! But we made sure the cheapest guy we did get had proper references, they worked for the council so we figured they couldn’t be real cowboys. I have heard bad stories on tree surgeons leaving halfway through/creating more work so do get recommended guys. We don’t have a septic tank no. Sorry no advice there. We had the builders take the patio up when digging foundations for the kitchen extension so they used a digger. Then we raised the level with concrete and then had new patio slabs laid on that with sand then gravel on top of that. Hope that helps! X

  7. Such a lovely garden, and been following your insta since your new kitchen went in 🙂

    I have a lavender related question… did you use a particular type or hybrid? Our cottage is very exposed at the front and we plan to plant lavender in big rail way sleeper planters but keen to know if you looked into the different types of lavender? we are looking for year-round hardiness!

    1. Hi Maddy. Thank you! We’ve used Angustifolia lavender {typical English hidcote}, it’s one of the most common from garden centres. All regular purple lavender should be hardy but the French stuff and white stuff definitely not hardy so don’t plant this xx

  8. I have so much greenhouse envy right now – everything about your greenhouse / garage is just perfect. I’ve forwarded it to my husband as inspiration! I so often wish I had somewhere to overwinter certain plants without having them cluttering up the house, and it definitely restricts what you can grow if you don’t have one. I love your planting – so many of my favourite flowers, and I love that you’ve incorporated such a huge variety. I can be a bit cautious, and repeat the same few plants to try and give a bit of cohesion, but I love the effect you’ve created. Maybe I should be a bit braver!

  9. Gorgeous garden. What is the name of the gravel you used please? I’m looking for one for the front of my house that has warm tones to go with red bricks/quarry tiles, but not too golden, and this looks perfect. 🙂

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