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: Sezincote

Sezincote is a British estate, located in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, England. It was designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell in 1805, and is a notable example of Neo-Mughal architecture, a 19th-century reinterpretation … Wikipedia
and was the inspiration for the Brighton Pavilion.

Down the drive,
Under the early yellow leaves of oaks;
One lodge is Tudor, one in Indian style.
The bridge, the waterfall, the Temple Pool
And there they burst on us, the onion domes,
Chajjahs and chattris made of amber stone:
‘Home of the Oaks’, exotic Sezincote.
~ from “Summoned by Bells”, by John Betjeman

This extraordinary Indian house set in the Cotswolds hills has a central dome, minarets, peacock-tail windows, jali-work railings and pavilions. The main photo above shows the curving Orangery which frames the Persian Garden of Paradise with a fountain and canals and a pair of friendly elephants.

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Return through the grounds that are bypassed when heading up the walkway to the house from the ticket booth to another garden where a number of spring-fed pools lead to the Island Pool. It is a lush, green and woodland garden which is probably at its best in spring and autumn. There are touches of the exotic Mughal garden everywhere, with the Brahmin cattle on the steps and on the bridge, and a coiled 3-headed snake.

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The columned bridge with little stepping stones taking you from lower to upper garden is quite a fascinating focal point.

It is an unusual place to find in the English countryside and not that easy to find (entrance opposite the Batsford Arboretum) and it is best to check the website for details of opening times. The grounds are undulating and some paths are gravel so not suitable for wheelchairs. Entrance fee to the house and grounds includes a guided tour (every half an hour) of a few rooms in the house. It is a worth while experience, though you can buy a ticket for the grounds only.

  • Street:        Sezincote
  • Postcode:   GL56 9AW
  • City:            Moreton in Marsh
  • County:      Gloucestershire
  • Country:    United Kingdom

More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.

Garden Portrait: Great Dixter

Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd – it was the focus of his energy and enthusiasm and fuelled over 40 years of books and articles. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is a historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.

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Open from April to the end of October, the nursery is open all year round.

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Entrance, Peacock Garden and High Garden

The gardens surround the house and buildings so if you make a circuit of the gardens you will have made a circuit of the house. Each garden has a view of others. I made my way anti-clockwise from the entrance, passing through the meadow garden, which was over in July, and on to the lawn in front of the lovely 15th or 16th century timber-framed house. To the left of the porch as you face the house Edwin Lutyens combined a 16th century yeoman’s house moved from Benenden in 1910 with the original building to create what is now Great Dixter. Climbing up the steps into the Peacock Topiary and High Garden you are immediately struck by the mass of planting threatening to hide the paths that lead you through the garden. The paths form a cross and central area where you can take in the roofline of the house and its imposing chimneys.

 The Long Border

The Long Border is divided from the meadow and orchard by a flagstone path and a narrow mowed strip of lawn. Plants are crammed in so that no patches of bare earth can be seen and flowers sprawl over the path softening the edges. It is a border designed for mid-June to mid-August with a simple Lutyens seat at one end. Tall plants are allowed at the front of the border as long as an open texture allows you to see behind, the tall Verbascum are valued for their tall narrow stature.

The Exotic Garden

From the Long Border walk down the circular Lutyens steps, partially shaded by a huge mulberry tree and covered in Erigeron karvinskianus and across to the Exotic Garden.  Once a cattle-yard, then a rose garden it is now filled with fairly hardy foliage plants for a tropical effect.  Dahlias and cannas add spectacular colour.

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The Blue Garden, the Walled Garden and the Sunken Garden

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The Blue Garden is a small space between the topiary lawn and the Walled Garden. Lutyens steps lead through to the walled garden which is paved with  a mosaic of two dachshunds, Dahlia and Canna that belonged to Christopher Lloyd. Continue through this colourful space – with many terracotta pots – into the Barn Garden which borders the Sunk Garden.

Dachshund Mosaic

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The Solar Garden

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The largest single area of bedding, is in the Solar garden, next to the old bay tree and facing the front of the house. Behind you can see the barn and the Oast house.

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 We’ve come full circle now, though I haven’t shown you everything that this garden has to offer. I think it may take more than one visit to absorb everything that Great Dixter contains, and I never even went inside that beautiful house.

  • Street:  Great Dixter
  • Postcode:  TN31 6PH
  • City:  Northiam
  • County:  Sussex
  • Country: United Kingdom

Pashley Manor Gardens

Pashley Manor Gardens is on the border of East Sussex and Kent. Famous for its Tulip Festival in spring regrettably I have never visited before despite my love of tulips. It is a garden worth visiting at any time during the open season from 1st April to 30th September as there are several different areas. Between the end of April and mid-May the woods are open for the Bluebell Walk when the woodland is carpeted in a magical mantle of blue. July and August is Lily time and each year Pashley exhibits the work of many eminent sculptors, including work by local sculptors, some of which is for sale.

There is also a lovely courtyard tea-room and summer terrace where you can sit under a parasol, eat quiche and salad, sip iced-coffee and admire the wonderful views over the lawns and old moat. And try to ignore the dozens of ducks underfoot.

The first area you enter are the herbaceous and  hot borders, full of roses, lilies, dahlias, clematis, monarda, helenium, fuchsias and penstemon.

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From here you can wander through to the woodland or enter the Walled Garden where you will find roses and a potager.

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Up some steps – stop to admire the sculptures – and into the walled swimming pool area which looks very inviting now that the sun has appeared. At the far end is a small greenhouse filled with pelargoniums, pretty Streptocarpus and ferns.

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Boy sitting

Boy sitting

Amongst the borders edging the lawns and summer terrace are dozens of perfumed lilies

Summer Terrace

Summer Terrace

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and my favourite sculpture:

wood-nymph

Wood Nymph

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich

Anyone who has been following me for a while may have picked up on the fact that I am a keen fan of Sir Edwin Lutyens (architect) and Gertrude Jekyll (garden designer) names synonymous with the creation of the English Country Garden style. When I was in East Kent some years ago and heard about the secret gardens of Sandwich I was intrigued.

The Salutations
The Salutations

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich are encircled by the old stone city walls and within this plot is a Grade I manor house, the Salutations, designed by Lutyens in 1911 and now a luxury hotel. He also created the gardens with the help of Jekyll and, although neglected for many years, it  has been wonderfully restored and is open to the public.

Typical of of a Lutyens and Jekyll garden you will find brick paths and herbaceous borders planted with lilies, lupins and lavenders, “rooms” with their own character and plenty of visual surprises and unexpected views.

My visit was in early September when the main highlight was the dahlias – from small delicate patio flowers to huge full-blown dinner plates.