Is this the best garden in Kent?


Many visitors have enjoyed Paul and Su Vaint’s glorious garden as they opened it up as part of a national initiative.

It has been their labour of love for more than 20 years after moving to the east Kent countryside from London to restore a derelict barn near Faversham.

The Vaight's glorious garden in OareThe Vaight's glorious garden in Oare
The Vaight’s glorious garden in Oare

Now their tireless efforts have been repaid after it was short-listed among the nation’s favourite gardens by The English Garden magazine.

It is alongside 28 competing for the top accolade, but the only entry from Kent.

“I think it would be fair to say that the garden is our main passion,” said Su, a former Citizens’ Advice Bureau volunteer.

“We spend several days a week working on it because that’s what it needs to keep on top of all the jobs.”

She and husband Paul, a retired BP executive, have been delighted to show visitors around their two-acre garden at their home Pheasant Barn in Oare.

Paul and Su Vaight in their glorious gardenPaul and Su Vaight in their glorious garden
Paul and Su Vaight in their glorious garden

And is it those visitors which have nominated it for the coveted award.

“We were delighted and thrilled to receive the letter from the magazine editor,” said Su.

“It’s nice to know that so many people have appreciated our garden.”

The couple designed and created the garden themselves over several years, only using contractors for heavy-duty work.

And their emphasis has been to make it bee and butterfly friendly, with flowers that attract the insects.

The courtyard garden, formerly the barn farmyard, reflects the farmland around them.

What a place to sit and admire the viewWhat a place to sit and admire the view
What a place to sit and admire the view

Long diagonal beds were cut out of the compacted ground and filled with lines of muscari, catmint, germander and late flowering lavender surrounded by a rosemary hedge.

These lines of planting have raised oak boardwalks crossing them, which is a nod to the nearby creek moorings.

The courtyard itself is edged with apple trees and old hop poles that are used for climbers, and there is a pebble-filled pond that creates different levels for the various birds to enjoy. Modern sculptures and the use of steel bring a contemporary feel to the space.

Close by is a vegetable garden with raised beds inhabited by lizards, while grass snakes and slow worms enjoy the large compost areas, created from the yearly meadow cuttings.

But much of their open space is dedicated to a wildflower meadow.

The Vaights say their inspiration comes from the many gardens they have visited around the world, but also their own surrounding environment.

The Vaight's glorious garden at OareThe Vaight's glorious garden at Oare
The Vaight’s glorious garden at Oare
The glorious Pheasant Barn gardenThe glorious Pheasant Barn garden
The glorious Pheasant Barn garden

Their garden is open in June and July through the National Gardens Scheme, when the meadow flowers are at their very best.

“I’ve always been a gardener and was influenced as a child by my parents who gardened and had an allotment,” said Su.

“Paul came to it slightly later but is just as enthusiastic now.

“It’s forever changing with the seasons and there’s always something to do. It’s hard work but keeps us active.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and doing our best for nature, which needs a helping hand.”

The winners of the competition – one for each region, one public garden and one overall champion – will be revealed in the autumn.

To vote for Pheasant Barn, Kent, go to

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham


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