Garden Portrait: Mrs Greville’s Rose Garden

Mrs Greville’s rose garden at Polesden Lacey in the Surrey Hills  is set out in a simple cross pattern, with long, box-edged, wooden pergolas, adjoining seams of ‘Munstead’ and deeper ‘Hidcote’ lavenders, walls draped in clematis and a water tower festooned in an old Chinese wisteria, it is a mass of pink and white in the summer months.

This view is towards the well-head.

Town: Great Bookham
Postcode: RH5 6BD
County: Surrey
WebsitePolesden Lacey House and Gardens

Garden Portrait: Le Jardin des Cinq Sens

The garden itself is inspired by the romantic settings of medieval mazes consisting of several intimate gardens with evocative names with an invitation to awake the senses: ‘Jardin du Goût’ (the Taste Garden), ‘Jardin de l’Odorat’ (the Scented Garden), ‘Cloître de plantes médicinales’ (the Cloister of Medicinal Plants), ‘Prairie Alpine’ (the Alpine Meadow), etc.

It is garden which highlights the varied features of the plant world, encouraging you to take time to observe, take stock, absorb and savour the moment. To reach out and touch that furry leaf, smell that perfume, squeeze the oil from that herb and listen to the wind in the trees, the birds in the water, the bubbling stream. You have probably heard about ‘Mindfulness’,an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment,” well this garden was designed to reconnect with our bodies and the sensations they experience long before the word came into fashion. Forget your worries for half an hour and  take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.

It is not a large garden, an hour or two at the most will suffice, unless like me you take time to sit and watch the sparrows in the bird bath, stop to make notes in the herbal garden, sketch (roughly) the way fruit trees are espaliered along fences, the roses cover arches and the way clematis grow through roses or up on a wrought-iron obelisk. If you are stressed when you arrive here you certainly won’t be when you leave, as long as you linger and don’t rush through as some people do, eager to tick off yet another site from their list.

There are actually 9 different individually themed areas to explore which are :

  • The Alpine Garden
  • The Woodland
  • The Woven Garden
  • The Cloister
  • The Garden of Flavours
  • The Garden of Fragrances
  • The Garden of Textures
  • The Garden of Sight
  • The Garden of Hearing

Moving through the ‘rooms’ via cut-out doorways in the neatly trimmed hedges I crunch my way along gravelled pathways with the neat wooden borders of the  raised beds. Some plants I instantly recognise, others I try to work out from the labels. It is a garden with plenty of labels, but they are of course in French and my French is very rusty. But certain words are easy to translate.

This is a leisurely stroll, stopping frequently to smell, to touch, to read, sometimes to backtrack and take another look at something which catches my eye from across the garden. I enjoy the tranquillity of the place taking in the planting combinations: colours used to contrast or complement; the different leaf shapes; shapes and sizes of plants; movement. I notice how the pretty decorative and plain terracotta pots are used to hold the more tender plants such as the scented pelargoniums. I imagine the winters are hard and cruel here.

There are benches within the garden rooms and I make use of them to sit and make notes of the plants I am enjoying. To doze in the warm sunshine, eyes closed, breathing in the fragrant air and listening to the sparrows as they squabble with one another to find space in the bird bath. As usual, the plants that are used for medicinal or fragrances or culinary purposes are the ones I am most attracted to. Even if I don’t make personal use of such plants I like to grow them. Somehow they connect me to the past. I can imagine the medieval  physic gardens with their sections for plants used for healing. I pick. I nibble.

Regrettably I leave.

I have two other posts about this garden and the village in which it is situated.  Lost and Yvoire

Garden Portrait: Summer at Hinton Ampner

The walled kitchen garden is full of lavender-edged borders and swaying grasses and the Norman church is now surrounded by greenery. Pear trees that were in blossom in the spring, now drip with ripening fruit.

In July the garden is transformed. Around the house and the terraces shrubs give way to bedding plants, perennials, delicate shades of roses, lilies, dahlias, agapanthus, lupins and alliums.

At the east side of the house is a lily pond, and to the front a grass terrace with views over the parkland.

A sunken garden which was cordoned off in the wet weather to prevent damage to the lawned pathway is now open.

The terraces are full of summer planting, and ornaments that went unnoticed in the spring.

 

The smoke bushes are in full bloom next to the classical temple.

It is a peaceful and relaxed garden in which to loiter. Sheep wander among the trees in the parkland and a ginger cat gets some shut-eye in the heat of the sun.

Hinton Ampner has been creatively planted and tended with so much to see in quite a small garden. If you are in the area during the summer months I recommend a visit. And next door is a lovely pub, the Hinton Arms,  which serves excellent food.

Size: 13 acres (5.3 hectares)

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

Garden Portrait: a tribute to Beth Chatto

Beth Chatto died last week (1923 -2018). On May 13th. To anyone interested in garden design and plants she was a well-known name. She has inspired and influenced gardeners for many years both here and across the world. Famous for her ability to grow plants in difficult places she is often quoted for her dictum:

“The right plant for the right place”

She will be missed, but her spirit will carry on in the thousands of gardens she encouraged gardeners to create. In Essex you can visit the Beth Chatto Gardens where you will find the wonderful Gravel Garden: an example of a garden planted in poor free-draining soil and without irrigation using drought tolerant plants. This, as well as the tea-room and nursery, is free to enter. You can also buy plants from the nursery by mail order.

Then you can visit the Reservoir Garden, an open sunny area which is full of wide borders and ponds and plenty of colour even at this late time of the year. What I noticed the most, apart from the width of these borders, was the way height and texture is used throughout.

Large-leaved plants, spiky plants, variegated leaves, soft swaying grasses and tall perennials like the Persicaria,  Eupatorium  and Chelone reaching to the sky. All underplanted with ground-cover plants like hardy geraniums and hostas which plug the gaps.

Grassy pathways lead you through the planting up to the Woodland Gardens which are full of shade-loving bulbs and shrubs planted beneath a canopy of tall oaks. On the way you will have to stop many times to admire the variety of plants in the borders.

Finally the Scree Garden which provides the solution for many: a large collection of easy alpines emulating the growing conditions of the stony mountainous slopes.

My visit was in early September, 2016. Fortunately I was heading up to Scotland, otherwise I think I would have spent a fortune on plants here. Luckily I didn’t as I now know what my garden is truly like so I can finally choose ‘the right plant in the right place

Source: Beth Chatto Gardens leaflet (photos my own)

Garden Portrait : Dunster Secret Garden

Dunster is a Medieval village in north Somerset on the edge of Exmoor closest to the Bristol Channel. There is a castle on a wooded hill which has existed here since at least Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower giving a reminder of its turbulent history. There is also a working Water Mill that is used daily and produces wholemeal flour that can be purchased in the shop and a lovely octagonal Yarn Market on the High Street where you will also find tea-rooms and independent shops and several nice pubs where you can dine. There are several walks through the parkland and along the river and over a particularly pretty 15th-century stone Gallox bridge. This ancient stone bridge – originally ‘gallows bridge’ – once carried packhorses bringing fleeces to Dunster market.

Several years ago I took the OH here to celebrate a BIG birthday and we stayed in a delightful B&B where the owner was a chef and offered tasting menus. Of course I reserved one for the day in question. What was so lovely about this brief getaway was exploring the lovely village itself which is home to a fascinating collection of medieval buildings. The Parish and Priory Church of St. George is worth a visit, but I want to show you the delightful memorial gardens behind the church which are so well hidden they are practically a secret.

Entering the garden through an arched door you are immediately taken by the richness of the planting. In late spring the borders were a riot of jewel-like colours. Bright orange oriental poppies mingling with tall spires of deep magenta Sword Lilies (Gladiolus communis subsp. Byzantium, better known in the south-west as ‘Whistling Jack‘.) Blue and plum coloured irises line the pathways.

Peonies and roses stand side by side with rock roses ( Cistus ladanifer) with its distinctive brown eye.

Colours contrast and clash at will.

Leaving the garden, back onto Priory Green, you will see a restored dovecote opposite.

Dunster Dovecote

The Village Gardens are next to the church on the site of a former Benedictine priory which was dissolved in 1536. In 1543 Lady Luttrell bought the land to be used as a kitchen garden for the castle, but they fell into disuse until being bought by the villagers and turned into a garden for all to enjoy.

Although not as many flowers here, it is a pretty space with lots of stone decorative pieces in the nooks and crannies. The planting is lush and green with climbers and creepers.

Wisteria

Maybe it is time to go back and see how these gardens look now.

If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.