The Old Rectory, Aston-le-Walls – Philip Astley-Jones Esq
The two and a half acre garden at The Old Rectory was, apart from some established trees, including a very productive walnut, a blank canvas when it was bought by Philip Astley-Jones in 1993. Over the years, hedges have been planted, garden buildings, (one with an Indian theme, another based on a design by Humphry Repton), have been erected and allowed to mature, ornaments have been gathered and placed with care to add just the right note of formality around the 1790s rectory. All have a tale to tell, of people or of places where they were discovered and it is this layering of objects that makes the garden such fun and gives it such huge charm.
Hardwick Hill, Priors Hardwick – Mr and Mrs Diarmaid Kelly
Not long ago the garden at Hardwick Hill was overgrown, neglected and given over to a plantation of Christmas trees. With much hard work, Candida Kelly, a garden designer and botanical artist, has created the lovely garden that now surrounds the house. A wide lawn separates the generous terrace from the ha-ha and parkland beyond. On one side a magnificent Corsican Pine draws the eye upwards to the hanging woods, on the other, beyond a screen of pleached Malus, a long border leads to a pavilion with views to the distant Malvern Hills. A stone wall and hedges shelter the herbaceous planting on three sides of a square below the main lawn and a walk of winter-flowering plants leads back to the house. A beautifully maintained vegetable garden, a cutting garden, a fern-clad stumpery and an extensive orchard are among the other delights of this wonderful garden.
Wardington Manor, Wardington – The Land Gardeners
Wardington Manor is a garden with a great past, but since 2009 it has been planted as a productive garden by Bridget Elworthy (the current owner) and Henrietta Courtauld – both of whom run The Land Gardeners. This is a business producing cut flowers for London events, designing and restoring walled gardens and researching soil health. The layout of the old garden remains within the ironstone walls, the structure of yew hedges and buttresses and the borders of established Magnolias and Azaleas. Great sweeps of blue Iris line paths, delphiniums and lupins burst out of borders, foxgloves riot with peonies and the Victorian walled kitchen garden is a blissful mixture of flowers and vegetables. A recent development of the organic garden is a whole new approach to compost-making to improve radically soil health, structure and fertility.