Spilsbury Farm, Tisbury – Jamie and Tania Compton
The garden at Spilsbury Farm is an intriguing mixture of formality and wildness. An orchard next to the house leads to vistas lined with clipped blocks and pyramidal hornbeams in long meadow grass that are focused on ancient oak trees. Within this strong framework, Jamie and Tania seem happy to let nature enjoy a controlled riot. The house is approached by a lovely gravel garden planted with Perovskia, Euphorbia myrsinites and Santolina. Box, clipped into balls, keep clouds of fennel at bay, borders billow with Eryngiums, Sedums, cardoons, grasses and roses mingle with meadow grasses. Pots filled with summer annuals dress the terrace and furnish steps.
Shute House, Donhead St Mary – Mr and Mrs John Lewis
The River Nadder rises in the garden at Shute and is the soul of this intriguing and mysterious garden, which was designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe. The water takes two courses, one informal and natural, the other formal and classical. From a rectangular canal overlooked by three Roman busts, the water falls in a rill richly planted with perennials into pools inspired by Moorish gardens. Suzy Lewis, who understands this garden so well, has added to and enriched it, re-organising the entrance to bring the lovely east façade of the house into the garden, adding an allée, contained by beech hedges and creating a new garden in a courtyard outside her kitchen. Jellicoe’s masterpiece is in very safe hands.
Donhead Hall, Donhead St Mary – Mr and Mrs Paul Brewer
Early Georgian Donhead Hall stands on a slope grandly surveying its deer park, which laps up to the walls of the house. The garden, designed by Martin Lane Fox, rises on terraces behind it. An elegant orangery faces a swimming pool across a box parterre and on the next terrace, lines of Betula jacquemontii and clipped Viburnum tinus make a very understated pairing. An upper terrace with a border running its entire length leads to the vegetable and cutting gardens at the highest point of the garden. A vista runs from a lovely octagonal pavilion, by way of grass steps and a formal pool surrounded by a box of pleached limes, back to the south façade of the house.