Peacocks in Essex takes Daily Mail ‘top of the plots’ title in National Garden Competition

Peacocks in Essex - Winner of the Daily Mail National Garden Competition

A spectacular oasis that helped pull its owner through tough times has been named top of the plots this year in the Daily Mail National Garden Competition. Peacocks in Margaretting, Essex, that opens for the National Garden Scheme, impressed the judges with its creativity and the skill of several specific areas across its 10 acres.

Garden owner, Phil Torr, who found solace in gardening after his wife died from cancer in 2008, told the Daily Mail: “It’s the first time I’ve ever entered the competition – friends encouraged me to have a go – and I was delighted just to get through to the last four. To actually win and get this recognition for the garden in the pages of the Daily Mail is more than I ever dreamed of.”

The competition judges were particularly impressed by the creativity and the skill with which Phil has created several distinct and beautifully designed garden areas.

Phil bought his imposing Georgian house, called Peacocks, in 1998. “I was living nearby and I was friendly with the owners so I had visited the house but I never dreamed I’d be able to buy it one day. When it came up for sale, it was too good an opportunity to miss – it is the ultimate house renovation project.”

The garden was completely wild and overgrown but Phil and his wife Sarah focused initially on restoring the house. Sadly, Sarah died from cancer in 2008, leaving Phil with two small children – Charlie, now 21, and Henry, 18 – and working on the garden became a source of solace and gave him a project to focus on.

When he retired a few years ago, Phil became totally engrossed by the garden.

The grounds are extensive but he has concentrated his energies on three areas in particular. Two derelict tennis courts, which were swamped with weeds and brambles, have been incorporated into the garden. Phil wanted part of the space to be a classic English country garden and, with the help of a friend, he rebuilt the walls and paths using 20,000 bricks.

Inspired by gardens like Sissinghurst in Kent, Phil has included a central sundial, a bug hotel, a fountain, a pond and a summer house, and planted the garden with colour themed beds, backed by elegant high hedges.

The garden at Peacocks will be open on a number of dates in April, May, June and July in 2022 for charity under the National Garden Scheme (click here for details) and Phil hopes many visitors will come to enjoy it.

“I love sharing it,” he says. “Winning the competition has inspired me to work even harder on it. There’s plenty more I want to do here.”

This extract is from the Daily Mail article written by Constance Craig Smith for the Weekend Magazine, published on 3 December, that you can read it in full here 



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