8. Wiltshire – Thursday 21 June

Seend Manor - Tour 8

Seend Manor

Seend Manor, Devizes
Mr and Mrs Stephen Clark

Pevsner maintains that Seend is full of good houses and among them is Seend Manor, built in 1767 and blessed with a wonderful stable yard and a walled garden. Stephen and Amanda Clark have lived and worked all over the world and the brief that they gave Isabel and Julian Bannerman was to create a four-part garden that reflected their lives. So the garden spectacularly commemorates, in quarters separated by avenues of pleached hornbeams, England, Africa, China and Italy. Summer-flowering perennials and roses predominate in England, a swimming pool and loggia, reclaimed from a 1820s house in Bristol, for outdoor entertaining suitably in Italy. China is dominated by an antique pagoda which is encircled by a beech hedge cut into a wave pattern or maybe a Chinese dragon. The Bannermans and the Clarks have collaborated closely on the garden to produce architectural detail of great quality and with strong personal symbolism.

Manor Farm, Huish, Marlborough
Mr and Mrs James Roberts

Hidden up a lane running into the southern flank of the Marlborough Downs is the tiny hamlet of Huish. The garden at Manor Farm, which is a combination of good planting, clever design and wit, lies on the gentle slope to the south of the house. A terrace separates the house from the main lawns and to one side an enclosed allée is contained by pleached limes under-planted with Pittosporum and Euonymus. A woodland garden planted with hydrangeas leads to a willow-fringed lake and an impressive sculpture of a crowing cockerel. The swimming pool is discreetly walled with a distinctively modernist flourish and furnished with elegant, almost spherical, pots. An adjacent walled garden is adorned with a fossil encrusted pavilion, designed by Julian and Isabel Bannerman.

A garden near Marlborough
After an interval of seven years I am delighted to be able to return to this very private garden where water plays such a major role. The Kennet fringes the garden and feeds mill streams and pools with gin-clear water. On one side of the house lie the formal gardens created by Avray Tipping. Here, Arts and Crafts spaces, divided by walls and yew hedges, run from the arched entrance towards the walled kitchen garden. A wooden door in a wall opens onto a sloping lawn decorated with yew cones, from where an archway leads to raised double borders awash with shrub roses and peonies. Cordoned apples are trained against the walls of the kitchen garden and brick raised beds are filled with vegetables. Beyond this is a recently planted maze. In contrast, on the far side of the house the planting is more relaxed as paths meander through groves of willows to a fishing hut on the bank of the river.