Designed as living painting and filled with sculpture, our garden continues to evolve and inspire

The walled garden; photograph: Lewis Ronald

When Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant arrived at Charleston in 1916, the garden was filled with fruit trees and vegetables. It was redesigned in 1918 by the art critic Roger Fry, a close friend, who created the rectangular lawn, gravel paths and flowerbeds, which Bell and Grant filled with the flowers they loved to paint.

The garden often doubled as an auditorium, where Bell’s children and their friends would improvise plays, as well as being an outdoor exhibition space where Vanessa’s son Quentin installed many of his sculptures. Opened to the public in 1986, the garden has always been a place for excitement and discovery as well as quiet contemplation.