garden 1The Lime Kiln Garden was officially opened in September 2021.

Here, the designer, Sally Harley-Martin, provides an overview of this beautiful space at the heart of the school campus. 

'I designed the Lime Kiln Garden to entice the St Mary’s girls, staff, parents and guests to enjoy the outdoors. Set right at the centre of the school, the garden has social spaces and quiet places, places to build friendships or learn, and places just to be. Some areas are in sunshine and some in shade, but all are outside in the fresh air.

Seen from four sides, and above, the garden is designed with a strong geometry to look striking from all viewpoints. As the site is a flat plain (the original lime quarry floor), we added height and interest with 24 new trees. Yew hedging encloses the garden which is further divided into two areas; the Green to the West and the Hive to the East. The Grade II Listed Lime Kiln is an ever-present backdrop with a new path to the Sixth Form Houses routed around it.

The Green is the most traditional area in style and structure with a central sunken garden, in local stone, referencing the school’s Lime Quarry heritage. Designed as a multi-functional space, the green has already been used for concerts, presentations, a candle lit Remembrance Day service and much downtime, simply enjoying the sun. The design includes spaces for a commemorative plaque and sculptures which talented parents Lisi Ashbridge and Anna Bromiley have contributed.

Walking East through an espalier wall of pear trees, we reach The Hive. This more informal area is segmented into spaces for work and play. Enclosed study gardens have tables and chairs, and a bench garden has oak beams for lounging or lessons. Raised water tables add gentle sound, and two sets of double swings hide behind tall grasses. It is wonderful to see it all in regular use for social groups, lessons, private tutorials and meetings, a swing or just a moment to breathe.

Finally, outside the East boundary there is a smart new area for spectator seating and boot changing.

The garden is built using a local Corsham stone, and Gill Mill gravel. These materials were chosen to mirror the 1930s Matthews Building, which was built of local limestone reclaimed from the Calne workhouse.

The planting has strong evergreen structure, with planting in the school’s colours of blue and white, which peaks in June for Founders’ Day and again for the September return; this was all planted by the school’s grounds team. Trees, including Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Variegata’ in the sunken garden and Malus ‘Evereste’ provide height, colourful bark, blossom and fruit. We have also added over 3,000 white Narcissi, Tulips and Allium for early season flowers.

Looking forward, planning permission has been granted for an oak framed pavilion in the centre of this garden space. Designed with pupil Sarah Cheng, the striking pavilion with two tier roof and Japanese inspired cedar slatted walls, will extend the use of the garden in the English weather and complete the garden'.