Garden Portrait: Barrington Court Garden

The Kitchen Garden

Barrington Court  gardens were laid out in the 1920’s by the Lyles to a structured design influenced by Gertrude Jekyll and the Arts and Crafts movement – especially evident in the graceful Lily Garden.  (click on the link to visit my previous post)

The former bullstalls (Buss-stalls)

My second visit to this garden was at the end of the very cold and wet May this year (2021) and it looked very different to my visit in early June 2009 when the garden was full of late spring and early summer flowers, including many roses, peonies and oriental poppies. Lockdown has caused a lot of havoc to our lives including the National Trust gardens which rely on a lot of volunteers to keep the grounds looking good. The house and the restaurant were also closed. Being late afternoon the grounds were very quiet, which I like. Not much has changed apart from the opening of some artisan workshops housed in old farm buildings.

The White Garden with a Dancing Faun statue

The garden is divided into several sections with the ubiquitous white garden, which was not looking its best, partly to do with the lack of staff over the past 15 months and partly to do with the cold and wet spring. I’m sure it would have been better during the summer when the roses and lilies were in full bloom.

Weathered Pergolas support wisteria, clematis and honeysuckles and I love the silvery grey oak wood frames around the doorways in the walls.

I also find the various patterned brick paths delightful  – they might inspire some of us at home if we have a spare pile of bricks! (I unfortunately don’t)

There is a central pool garden with surrounding beds of annuals, pansies being the flower of choice with Azaleas and Ceanothus shrubs providing colour on the mellow brick walls. William Strode built the new stables and coach house adjacent to the Court House. The building was originally an open U-shape and has the date 1674 in the brickwork. It now houses a lovely restaurant, unfortunately closed.

Pool Garden and former Strode House (now restaurant)

The large walled kitchen garden was much more colourful that I remembered with wallflowers and Aubrieta lining the main pathway to the lily pond and the statues.

Lead statue of a centurion, on stone plinth

On this visit we were not able to get a leaflet about the garden, nor were there many signs around to give you some idea of what you were looking at. Hopefully once things are back to normal this will improve.

Lead fountain in the form of a boy and a swan.

If you are in the area (north of Ilminster, Somerset) then it is worth a visit to these gardens although many people have expressed disappointment with the house and restaurant being closed and the gardens not being in their former pristine condition.

There is no doubt in my mind that the gardens and parklands that the NT look after are of huge importance in a time when we’re most in need of recovery. Unfortunately Covid-19 has affected all of us and I think we should all be more tolerant and less judgmental and appreciate all the effort that goes into protecting and preserving these historic places. Rant over…

Jo’s Monday Walks

Flower of the Month: June

June just has to be roses, doesn’t it? Though Cornwall is not known for growing roses. The damp climate reeks havoc on the leaves (black spot) and flowers (balling buds, browning petals) so roses are not that popular. Saying that I have seven of my own (three inherited), two from my previous container garden and two new ones which are supposed to be disease resistant.

However, black spot is the most serious disease of roses. It is caused by a fungus, Diplocarpon rosae, which infects the leaves and greatly reduces plant vigour, the fungus is genetically very diverse and new strains arise rapidly. Unfortunately, this means that the resistance bred into new varieties usually fails to last because new strains of the fungus arise to overcome it. (Source: RHS)

There is something quintessentially English about a rose though. Childhood memories of picking highly scented petals and soaking them in water to produce a rather brown, but fragrant ‘rose perfume’. The beautiful jewel-like colours, the silky blooms and the myriad of scents. There is nothing quite like a rose garden. In summer. In the sun.

All these images were taken at Godolphin Gardens on 19 June 2019. 

 

Flower of the Month: May

May is the most floriferous month in my opinion. Everything seems to spring into life as the soil warms up and the daylight hours increase. Trees are green once again and many are full of enticing blossom, but the ones that are noticeable in Cornwall are the Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Cornish gardens are simply at their best from March to the end of May.

All these photo were taken in Trelissick Garden.

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: 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: Erddig

Erddig Hall is a National Trust property on the outskirts of Wrexham, Wales. Located 2 miles south of Wrexham town centre, it was built in 1684–1687 for Josiah Edisbury, the High Sheriff of Denbighshire.

House from Canal

The garden and indeed the house, were in disrepair when the estate was handed over to the National Trust in 1973. Nothing but brambles, nettles and overgrown shrubs in this formal garden designed originally by Thomas Badeslade in 1740 in the Dutch style.

Now there is a crisp pattern of paths and lawns, avenues of pleached limes, pyramidal fruit trees, yews and hollies and clipped Portuguese laurels. Apples are grown in abundance with more than 100 varieties, many espaliered along the walled garden. In fact an apple festival is held here annually in October.

The walled garden is also home to one of the longest herbaceous borders you will see and this is a riot of colour in the summer.  Wide borders are filled with spring bulbs and old varieties of daffodils some dating from before the First World War. And the banks of the canal are colonised by the wild Welsh Lent Lily (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) in spring, followed by common spotted orchids in the summer which spread during the period of neglect in the garden.

Bedding schemes favour the Victorian flavour and more so in the small Victorian Flower Garden where pink ‘Dorothy Perkins’ roses and deep violet Clematis Jackmanii are strung along swags of ropes.

If you like walking there are 3 trails taking you through the extensive park where dogs are welcome on leads. This landscape was largely the work of the well-respected landscape designer William Emes, a contemporary of ‘Capability’ Brown, who worked at Erddig from 1768-1780. In 1779, Philip Yorke I put up the following notice at the entrance lodges at Erddig:

“Mr Yorke having at great Expense, and at the labour of many Years, finished the Ground and Wood Walks about Erthig, desires to acquaint his Neighbours, that they are extremely welcome to walk in the same for their Health and Amusement.”

Size: 13 acres (5.3 hectares)

  • Street: Erddig
  • Postcode: LL13 0YT
  • City: Wrexham, Clywyd
  • County: Gwynedd
  • Country: United Kingdom

Garden Portrait: Powis Castle

Castle with its terraces

The castle and garden is in Welshpool, Powys. The gardens are spread out over several Baroque terraces leading down through shrubs and giant cloud-shaped yew hedges to a large lawned area and a former kitchen garden and a woodland walk. All backed by a patchwork of fields, villages and hills of the Welsh border countryside.

Lower formal garden and lines of pyramidal apple trees

The terraces include an Orangery and an Aviary with the sheltering walls angled towards the south-west providing a mild climate in which a number of shrubs and climbers can be found. In spring pretty blue ceanothus spreads like a cloud and pale yellow roses pick up the tones of the red sandstone walls.

There are a number of lead statues in the gardens, most found on the grand terraces and from the workshop of the Flemish sculptor John van Nost. The lead used most likely came from the Powis family’s own lead mines at Llangynog, Montgomeryshire.

The Yew trees are magnificent. The fourteen specimen ‘tumps’ that sit on the upper terrace along with lead urns as well as the bulging hedge at the northern end were probably planted in the 1720s. Other evergreens include darker Irish yews and towering walls of boxwood.

Each terrace has its own theme. Drier conditions on the narrow Aviary Terrace allow for sun-loving Mediterranean, Californian and Southern Hemisphere planting including cistus, carpenteria, broom, lavender and iris and silver artemesia. The roof is draped in wisteria and troughs of creeping figs. Fuchsias are a speciality and often grown in the old basketweave pots.

Lead figure of Hercules on a stone plinth. Hercules is depicted wearing a lion-skin and slaying the hydra (carved in stone), using a club which is made of wood. Behind is the spectacular yew hedge.

Herbaceous borders on the third terrace leading to the lower garden

On the third terrace you find the Orangery and long, box-edged borders.

The bottom of the garden is now lawned (Great Lawn) and used for playing croquet. It used to be the kitchen garden, but now all that remains are the rare, old varieties of apple trees.

Ground cover, bedding plants, including hardy geraniums, roses and delphiniums stretch out from the half-timbered gardener’s bothy.

Here you can wander out of the formal garden and into a wilder woodland landscape, with a path curving towards the western ridge. This area is formed of acid sandstone in contrast to the limestone of the castle ridge and allows the planting of azaleas and rhododendrons.

The path leads to an ice-house and a Ladies’ Bath, both dating from the 19th century and you have views out towards the Long Mountain and Breidden Hills and across to the daffodil strewn paddock to the castle and terraces.

Returning to the western side of the castle we’ll have a peep into the courtyard and entrance to the castle (though I have yet to go inside as I always seem to spend my time in the gardens).

And a final look at the flowers in the woodland area, in springtime.

Size: 25 acres (10 hectares)

  • Street:        Powis Castle and Garden
  • Postcode:   SY21 8RF
  • City:            Welshpool
  • County:      Powys
  • Country:    United Kingdom

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.

Garden Portrait: Stourhead


Stourhead is often called

“one of the most beautiful of this country’s landscape gardens”

with a gentle harmonious planting of broad-leaved trees, conifers and rhododendrons. The valley landscape began in the 1740s by Henry Hoare II who had returned from a three-year tour of Italy and was inspired by the Roman Campagna ( a low-lying area surrounding Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy) which also inspired many landscape painters of the time.

It is probably a garden best seen during the spring or autumn when the tree colours are at their best. But my visit was towards the end of July on a particularly warm, but overcast day. Located in Stourton, Wiltshire the garden is best approached by walking downhill from the car park, past the estate village with its inn, church and row of cottages and down to the lake.

There is a circular walk around the lake, taking in the woods, with glimpses between the trees of the garden buildings. The understorey is mostly a glossy evergreen with shrubs of cherry laurel and rhododendron, here and there a glimpse of wild flowers or hydrangeas and hostas.

Above on a hill is the Temple of Apollo and on the far bank of the lake, the portico and rotunda of the Pantheon. The buildings disappearing as you continue into the woodland and make your way around the lake.

The layout of the garden is not random, but alive with hidden symbolic meanings  and it is no coincidence that Stourhead’s story was based on Aeneas’s  journey to Carthage, following the fall of Troy. The first building you come to (if you walk anti-clockwise) is the Temple of Flora. Dedicated to the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, this temple was the first garden building erected by Henry Hoare II between 1744 and 1746. Over the doorway the Latin inscription reads:

‘Keep away, anyone profane, keep away’.

The visitor then descends on paths in an anti-clockwise route around the lake, recalling Aeneas’s descent into the underworld, finding Dido who turns away from him. Continuing his journey he enters the Grotto, where the river god shows him the way out and he completes his heroic quest by founding Rome, symbolised by the Pantheon.

Palladian bridge and the Bristol Cross

The Pantheon: Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, this structure was built in 1753-54. It’s the largest garden building at Stourhead. ‘Pantheon’ means a temple sacred to all the gods. The temple is filled with statues of classical deities, including a marble Hercules created by Rysbrack. Well worth a look inside.

Leaving the Pantheon behind you take in a different vista. Across the lake to the Palladian bridge a five-arched stone bridge built in 1762. Although ornamental, the bridge was intended to look practical. It was designed to create the illusion that a river flows through the village and under the bridge.

High on the hill is the Temple of Apollo, built in 1765, by the architect Henry Flitcroft, to outdo William Chamber’s earlier Temple of the Sun at Kew. It is dedicated to Apollo, the sun god. Nestled on a hilltop, the temple has delightful views over the lake.

People picnic on the lawns. Sit on the steps. Fish in the lake. Although busy the grounds are so vast it doesn’t feel crowded.

The panoramic vistas are wonderful, but for me the best part are the old stable yard and walled kitchen garden, which were being renovated on my visit several years ago. A Foster and Pearson glasshouse dating from 1902 stands in the lower walled garden and housed a collection of pelargoniums.

The success of Stourhead lies in its painterly views; the way you can’t see all of the garden buildings at once and the anticipation of glimpsing a view through the trees. Hoare noted that

 ‘the greens should be ranged together in large masses as the shades are in a painting.’

I’m afraid that I prefer a plantsman’s garden to this landscape garden, my joy comes from the colours and forms of flowers and Stourhead doesn’t really ‘do’ flowers. But nothing can take away the fact that this is a truly magnificent garden landscape.

Size: 93 acres (38 hectares)

  • Street:      Stourhead
  • Postcode:  BA12 6QD
  • City:           Stourton
  • County:     Wiltshire
  • Country:   United Kingdom

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.

Garden Portrait: Snowshill Manor

Snowshill Manor near Broadway, Gloucestershire, is probably visited mainly for the eclectic collections of the architect, artist and woodworker Charles Paget Wade who purchased the house in 1919. The beautiful honey-coloured stone Cotswold house is set within the fresh green countryside and situated on a steeply sloping plot. To reach the garden from the National Trust car park you walk along a country lane with hedgerows of wild flowers, which in late spring are full of ransoms (wild garlic) and bluebells, before heading uphill through a blossom filled orchard. Areas of rough grass and native trees, hedgerows and shrubbery create a relationship with the garden.

Here you find a series of courtyards, narrow corridors, terraces and ponds among rustic outbuildings.

In spring and summer it is a colourful mix of cottage flowers: columbine, poppies, hardy geraniums, phlox, lupins. White doves in the dovecotes, roses and peonies and tubs of wallflowers; all with a glimpse of the Cotswold landscape beyond. This is quintessential England at its postcard best.

The colours in the garden are mostly blue, mauve and purple-toned which complement the stone, secondary colours are salmon and cream, sparingly used are reds and yellows. Orange is banned. (though I found some distinctly orange looking wallflowers).

“A garden is an extension of the house, a series of outdoor rooms”

wrote Wade following the philosophy of the time.

It is an architect’s garden.
Each room has rustic details and crafted ornaments: gate piers, troughs and cisterns, a sundial, an armillary sundial, a dovecote, a Venetian well-head, a bellcote with the figures of St George and the Dragon, a shrine for a Madonna on the byre roof, a wall-mounted astrological dial.

Many painted in Wade’s preferred colour of turquoise-flushed French blue which he found the best foil to the stone and grass.

It is an organic garden nestling into the surrounding countryside with ease.

Size: 2 acres (0.8 hectare)

  • Street:       Snowshill Manor
  • Postcode:  WR12 7JU
  • City:           Broadway
  • County:     Gloucestershire
  • Country:    United Kingdom

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