Garden Portrait: Spring at Hinton Ampner

This Georgian house stands on a ridge of chalk above well-treed farmland in Bramdean, Hampshire. It was inherited by Ralph Dutton, the 8th and last Lord Sherborne, in 1935 and he devoted the next fifty years to improving it. Author of ‘The English Garden’ he produced a very elegant house, landscaped gardens and parkland.

On one side of the house is a walled kitchen garden which runs into a cherry orchard, backed by a Norman church. The trees are planted within four formal enclosures and is the pattern for many compartmentalised planting within the grounds and long sweeping axes lined by topiary.

Further terraces were created using the lines of the Georgian facade to form the central space and the cross-paths. It is beautifully designed and holds a whole host of shrubs including the smoke-bush, hydrangeas, pittisporum, philidalphus, berberis, cotoneaster and many different shrub roses.

In spring the attention is given to the trees, the shrubs and the topiary. With spring bulbs and blossom adding colour.

The Long Walk runs through an avenue of thirty clipped Irish yews in one direction and through oramental shrubberies in the other. Both culminating with a classic ornament. One backed by trees, the other by open parkland.

An opening in the hedge opposite the house brings you to the ha-ha and a grass bastion. Ahead the park merges into the Hampshire countryside past stands of beech, lime, oak and pine trees.

The garden is beautifully designed, further enhanced by a flight of stone steps providing a change of level and at an intersection a classical temple has been erected, offering a shady spot to rest and admire the views. Dutton was a huge fan of trees and made sure they were rigorously thinned to ensure the specimens had room to develop. The garden and the parkland provide a sense of history and spaciousness with plenty of room for a pleasant stroll.

Size: 13 acres (5.3 hectares)

  • Street:   Hinton Ampner
  • Postcode:   SO24 OLA
  • City:   Bramdean, Alresford
  • County:   Hampshire
  • Country:  United Kingdom

41 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: Spring at Hinton Ampner

      • It’s going to be interesting to watch the seasons unfold here. At the moment there are quite a lot of ‘dead’ looking scrubby brush shrubs so I’m intrigued to see if they burst in to life, and there are some trees without leaves which will come out in leaf soon, but there are lots of colourful flowers appearing, so I think spring is under way here. 🙂

    • I would LOVE a walled garden. And I do like a bit of symmetry, though I am very happy for wilderness in a garden too. Some of my spring flowers are already on the move. Purple crocuses (and one yellow one), my helleborus niger (later than usual), some dainty little daffodils and furry buds on the willow. And tulips, hyacinths and something else I planted but can’t quite remember, are on their way. My favourite season is approaching…

      • All those beautiful flowers. It’s been so hot here my roses all shrivelled and today I have to go out and deadhead. We’ve had a couple of storms with some rain lately. Hopefully that might encourage some new growth.

  1. Oh to be in Warsaw, now that spring is coming! Actually booked the other day, for 7 weeks from April 16, but I don’t mention it on my own blog because I’m surprising the family. This post confirmed my post-dither decision: I yearn for a formal garden or two, and a northern spring. Although this garden takes the cake for formal: every prospect pleases (and you’re so good at photographing prospects). I love the shaped trees, against all my principles, and the glimpses of buildings, and the naming of plants. Everything looks beautifully kempt!

    • Oh, how exciting! You will be there at the perfect time (I love April and May). This particular garden is not one of my favourites – I like a more naturalistic planting or the Jekyll ‘rooms’ style – but it is in a wonderful location and fulfilled my garden urges when living without one.

  2. When were you there, Jude? I’d never heard of it but my resident expert had, of course. I do like the toadstool shaped topiary and that nice shot of the flight of steps. 🙂 🙂

  3. I look at gardens like these and think of the army of groundskeepers needed to maintain it all. Just mowing all that grass!! From the photos you’ve taken, they are obviously very good at it!

      • 🙂 You are one of a handful of people I blog with that I wish sometimes we could sit down together over a bottle of wine and chat 🙂

        Thank you – I’m doing well. I’m fat, but otherwise good. This afternoon, Jordan’s future in-laws are coming over so we can meet for the first time. I am ridiculously nervous.

        • Ah, the in-laws. I’m sure you’ll get on well. [actually I never see my youngest son’s in-laws. I have a good friendship with the eldest son’s soon-to-be-mother-in-law and in fact did with his ex’s (?) Some people you get on with, others you don’t. ]

        • Thankfully there is no real imperative for us to become friends, but I did want to meet them before the wedding. It seems like the appropriate thing to do.
          From what I understand, Dempsey’s parents are VERY different from us – quiet, laid-back, non-drinkers. On the other hand, we are screaming Type A’s with a love for the tipple 😉

  4. I always think that every garden has its own special time of the year. Hinton Ampner clearly shines in Spring. I have visited 3 times and it didn’t move me at all, it was tired and in need of a tidy up. Now having seen your lovely photos it has redeemed itself – thank you!

    • I have another post from the summer months coming up. I wouldn’t call it a favourite garden to visit, but it was a nice place for a walk in the grounds.

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