Author Archives: jwey

15. Berkshire

To be confirmed

Folly Farm, Sulhamstead
The house and garden at Folly Farm were one of the most successful and charming designs created by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. An existing farmhouse, with origins as a 17th century cottage, was incorporated into the design for H H Cochrane in 1906. This was extended for Mr and Mrs Zachary Merton in 1912. The garden was laid out around the 1912 house, with a canal garden running away from the 1906 ‘Dutch’ addition, a formal parterre garden in front of the new wing and an axis leading to the large walled kitchen garden. The final surprise was the yew-enclosed sunken rose garden. When the present family bought Folly Farm they embarked on a major restoration of the house and garden. Instead of recreating Miss Jekyll’s planting plans, Dan Pearson was commissioned to design an entirely new garden within the bones of the old garden. The result is an utterly contemporary garden of which Miss Jekyll would most surely approve.

Woolton House, Woolton Hill
Mrs Charles Brown

Woolton House has been added to and modified by succeeding generations, until the Edwardians turned it into a practical, country house. Charles and Rosamond Brown completed the process with a stupendous glass extension. In the garden, they started with a completely clean slate and sought the advice of the French designer Pascal Cribier, whose work includes the Tuileries garden in Paris. Cribier designed the magnificent contemporary potager in the walled garden. The rose garden, surrounding a cleverly enlarged formal pool, is a collaboration between the Browns and Cribier. Aralias by the pool give height and structure and Rosa chinensis ‘Sanguinea’, a hard-to-find sibling of ‘Mutabilis’, droops over the edge of the pool. A spectacular oak stands on an expansive lawn beside the house. In the woodland Andy Goldsworthy has created a large mound in a clearing. This is a garden of great style, maintained with great care and gardened with enthusiasm and panache.

Woolton House Tour 15

Meet at Folly Farm. Lunch at Woolton House

16. Kent

Wednesday 30 June 2021

White House Farm, Ivy Hatch, Ightham
Maurice Foster VMH

Maurice and Rosemary Foster bought White House Farm in 1972 with five acres, high up on what he describes as “the Kent Alps”. He has, over the years, added so extensively to his collection of plants that the garden and arboretum now cover 15 acres. Maurice describes himself as a tree man, but, as a long-standing member of the RHS Woody Plant Committee and a recipient of horticulture’s highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour, he is much more than that. It is an almost impossible decision when to visit; in Spring his extensive collection of Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camelias are in flower, followed by billowing masses of climbing and rambling roses in high summer, the autumn colour is spectacular, but his great passion is the growing and breeding of Hydrangeas, particularly blue-flowered Hydrangea serrata, which line about quarter of a mile of paths through the garden, and the velvet-leaved Hydrangea aspera. Forms with dark-coloured foliage in particular interest him and the very desirable Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’ with chocolate and burgundy-coloured leaves is one of Maurice’s plants, now commercially available. This is a very remarkable garden that would be overwhelming were it not for the generous enthusiasm and kindness of the gardener.

Long Barn Tour 16

Long Barn Tour 16

Long Barn, Sevenoaks Weald, Sevenoaks
Mr and Mrs Lars Lemonius

Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson created the garden at Long Barn, with a little help from Edwin Lutyens, from 1915 to 1930. The Nicolsons then moved to Sissinghurst and rented the house to, among others, Charles and Anne Lindbergh. Thereafter the garden acquired other owners and modest changes were made to the layout and planting.  Lars and Rebecca Lemonius have triumphantly shown that it is possible to live happily in an historic garden. The planting feels crisp and contemporary and yet utterly sympathetic to this Kent farmhouse. The garden bows to its former owners and yet has moved on. The Lemoniuses maintain and nurture it to an extent that would arouse admiration even from Vita.

Meet at White House Farm. Lunch at The Chaser Inn, Shipbourne

18. Buckinghamshire

To be confirmed

Eythrope, Waddesdon
The Lord Rothschild

While the widowed Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild was building Waddesdon, his sister, Miss Alice decided, in 1875, to build a house on the estate for her own use, where she could escape the grandeur of Waddesdon. By 1890 a park and garden of 60 acres had been laid out. This all but vanished after her death in 1922. In 1991 Mary Kean was asked to design a new garden and Sue Dickinson was appointed Head Gardener to oversee and manage the garden. Today the four-acre walled garden at Eythrope is not only a productive garden, supplying vegetables, fruit and flowers for the Rothschild family and Waddesdon’s restaurants, but also, in true 19th century style, an ornamental garden with herbaceous borders, rose borders and an Auricula theatre. A working walled garden on this scale is now almost unheard of and Eythrope has long been a byword for the excellence of its gardening, its remarkable array of glasshouses and a haven for traditional techniques.

Eythrope Tour 18

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury
The Rothschild Foundation and the National Trust

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild acquired the Waddesdon Estate in 1874 and commissioned the French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur to build a house in the French Renaissance style to house his collections and where he could entertain his friends. The hill was leveled and formal gardens, the drives and tree planting were designed by Elie Lainé, who was responsible for the slightly later restoration of the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte. The garden, immaculately maintained, is still, inside the curtain of trees, planted as mature specimens by Baron Ferdinand, intensely formal. Baron Ferdinand planted 41,000 bedding plants, with four changes a year and it is one of the rare places where this practice continues, perhaps on a slightly reduced scale.

Waddesdon Manor Tour 18

Waddesdon Manor Tour 18

Kingsbridge Farm, Steeple Claydon
Mr and Mrs Thomas Aldous

The house at Kingsbridge Farm sits low and mellow, old red brick under a warm tile roof and the largely informal garden, created by Serena Aldous, mirrors the house. The lawn is enclosed by softly curving and interestingly planted borders. Winding paths lead into a woodland garden on either side of a small stream, criss-crossed by a variety of bridges including a plank, which is not for acrophobics. But the structure of the garden is very sound, the hedges are beautifully clipped with sloping tops. The formal elements, particularly the central vista leading the eye across the main lawn, past egg-shaped yews, a semi-circle of pleached hornbeam and out across the ha-ha into the countryside beyond are done to perfection.

Meet at Waddesdon Manor. Lunch at Waddesdon Manor.

22. The Borders

Friday 9 July 2021

Carolside, Earlston
Mr and Mrs Anthony Foyle

The elegant 18th century house at Carolside stands in its park on the banks of the meandering Leader Water. Wooded hills rise on either side, giving a sheltered feeling not usually associated with The Borders. Behind the house, Rose Foyle has created a hugely romantic garden both outside and within the oval-shaped walled garden. Through a gate in the surrounding wall, a central path leads between borders overflowing with Delphiniums, lupins, Veronicastrum, Salvias and Nepeta to south-facing glass houses, home to a spectacular fig. But the glories of the garden are the roses, which, as behoves the National Collection of pre-1900 Gallica Roses, are breath-taking when in flower. Outside the walled garden, a walk leads to the Secret Garden and on to the Winter Garden, a Potager and Herb garden before returning to the lawns by the house. The garden was shortlisted for the HHA award 2020.

Whitburgh House, Pathhead
Mr and Mrs Alastair Salvesen

The dignified Neo-classical Whitburgh House stands at the top of a south-facing slope with long views over its magnificent dovecot to the Lammermuir Hills beyond. But behind the house lies its chief glory, the walled garden, originally created by Elizabeth Salvesen and her gardener Vincent Dudley in 1998, but redesigned in 2005 following extensive touring of gardens in the UK and abroad under the guidance of Noel Kingsbury. The result is an inspirational garden, that rises to a crescendo in the second half of the summer, with the structure of pleached beech hedges, yew pyramids rising out of a carpet of Sesleria autumnalis and Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ hedges, complemented by perennial planting which has to be robust and low-maintenance and anything but dull. The planting is intriguing even before entering the garden, with galvanised troughs of Darmera peltata at the entrance. Inside the plant combinations are very striking; swathes of brilliant green parsley underplant Crocosmia, Miscanthus curves sinuously in a beech enclosure, Argyranthemum ‘Jamaica Primrose’ is planted in bins framing the greenhouse door, red-flowered Schizostylis edges paths and Stipa tenuissima winds through red-leaved kale.

Corbet Tower, Morebattle
Mr and Mrs Simon Fraser

Sheltered by the surrounding Cheviot Hills, almost a stone’s throw from the English border, Corbet Tower is a garden of great charm and variety. Over the past sixteen years Simon and Bridget Fraser have continued to develop the garden they inherited, adhering to the happy mixture of wild, formal and productive themes. A substantial herbaceous border introduces the abundant walled vegetable and cutting garden, whose beds are filled with 12 different varieties of Rhubarb, Sweet peas, Delphiniums and Dahlias, with paths lined with Nepeta, Lavender and espaliered apples. From here the ground descends to a formal rose garden filled with old shrub roses including Ispahan, Tuscany Superb and Madame Hardy, before falling away into a woodland dell with the original medieval Corbet Tower and adjacent pond. The Victorian Scottish baronial house stands proudly on a terrace overlooking the garden, the surrounding parkland and the gently rolling hills.

1. Dorset

Wednesday 26 May 2021

The Old Rectory, Pulham
Mr and Mrs Nick Elliott

The Old Rectory is a delicious castellated gothick house standing across the fields from its church and settled very comfortably into the north Dorset countryside. The terrace, on the east side of the house, is liberally planted in many shades of purple and white with white tulips, Alchemilla, Doricnium and Verbena bonariensis. A lawn, flanked very stylishly by two avenues of yew pyramids and formal box beds with Portuguese laurel umbrellas, under-planted with Santolina, runs down to a ha-ha and the expansive view of Bulbarrow Hill and the Dorset Downs. Yew hedges enclose the garden to the south of the house and embrace circular herbaceous borders which are planted for a long flowering season, but peak in July. Further from the house the garden becomes less formal, with a bog garden filled with May-flowering Primulas and Iris and two woodland gardens where native trees are planted with exotics and flowering shrubs.

The Old Rectory Pulham Tour 1

The Old Rectory, Pulham Tour 1

Minterne, Minterne Magna
The Lord and Lady Digby

The present house at Minterne, described by Pevsner as a “beautifully sophisticated design”, was the rather eccentric creation of the Arts and Crafts architect, Leonard Stokes and was built between 1904-6 to replace an existing house, built by the Churchill family, which was riddled with dry rot. Admiral Robert Digby acquired the house in the middle of the 18th century and began to landscape the valley around it with (free) advice from Capability Brown, who was working for Digby’s brother at Sherborne Castle. He planted trees in profusion and formed the lakes and cascades from the existing stream. However, a spur of greensand lying to the south of the house, enabled later Digbys to plant the magnificent 27-acre woodland garden, which with its specimen trees, Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas should be at its peak in mid-May.  We will have lunch in the house and a tour of the interior with Henry Digby.

Meet at The Old Rectory Pulham. Lunch at Minterne

3. Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Thursday 3 June 2021

Little Malvern Court
Mrs Alexandra Berington

Little Malvern Court Tour 3

Little Malvern Court Tour 3

This lovely ten-acre garden around the 14th century Benedictine prior’s house stands above the Severn Valley with views across to the distant Cotswold Hills. It is divided into two parts; the formal garden immediately around the house was designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd and Michael Balston. Here yew hedges surround borders awash with roses and perennials. A white corridor with Philadelphus and a central rose-covered arch leads to a lawn bounded by pleached limes. In front of the house, another lawn, flanked by espaliered pears, leads down to the second part of the garden, the magnificent informal gardens created around the chain of five monastic ponds. These are now planted with wonderful trees which include cedars, grown from seed brought back from the Holy Land, Magnolias, Koelreuteria and some spectacular Pterocaryas overhanging the water of one of the lower ponds.

Bridges Stone Mill
Sir Michael and Lady Perry

Water is a pervading theme throughout this two-and-a-half-acre garden beside Leigh Brook, which the Perrys have been gardening since 1980. The Mill stands at the end of its alder-lined leat, while the brook embraces the whole garden under a sheltering steep wooded bank, now a nature reserve. A lawn leads past colourful mixed borders and fine trees planted by the Perrys, towards the vegetable garden, now largely planted with roses. Further into the garden a magnificent weeping willow marks a sharp turn of the brook. A cascade, contrasting with the serenity of the ancient mill leat, is crossed by a stone bridge and flows past clumps of Hosta, Gunnera and Astilbe into a large water-lily pond fringed with generous marginal planting. The Japanese Garden beside the house, and at the end of the mill leat is a new feature in the garden, created by Japanese designer Takashi Sawano, long resident in Britain, it subtly incorporates Japanese structures and pruning into this most English of landscapes.

Perrycroft, Colwall
Mr and Mrs Mark Archer

Perrycroft is an Arts and Crafts house high on the western flank of the Malvern Hills, built for John Wilson MP by Charles Voysey in 1893. Wilson acquired 80 acres and Voysey almost certainly determined the position of the house with its perfect view south towards Herefordshire Beacon. Voysey designed the house to blend seamlessly with the garden, with benches positioned against the house to take advantage of the views over Herefordshire into Wales. The garden, to the west of the house, drops away to the formal walled garden and summer house. Some twenty years ago Gillian and Mark Archer bought Perrycroft, which was then in a very poor state, and have extensively restored both house and garden. Yew trees have been returned to their original shape as hedges and the formal gardens have been replanted with yew topiary, box hedges and perennials. Beyond the formal gardens, the woodland garden, inspired by William Robinson, the 19th century owner of Gravetye Manor in Sussex, is planted with spring bulbs and wild flowers among Philadelphus, Deutzias and other flowering shrubs.

Perrycroft Tour 3

Perrycroft Tour 3

Meet at Little Malvern Court. Lunch at Bridges Stone Mill

4. Derbyshire

Monday 7 June 2021

The Dower House, Melbourne
Mr and Mrs William Kerr

William Kerr inherited The Dower House in 1982. The family came to Derbyshire in 1988, but shortly thereafter moved to Hong Kong leaving behind a totally abandoned garden. From the early years of 2000 Griselda returned for short periods spending two years at The English Gardening School, then Broomfield College and Brooksby.   Since then she has not only created a fabulous garden, which is a plantsman’s dream, but also written the most useful and practical gardening book to have been published for years (The Apprehensive Gardener). The early 19th century house stands at the top of a slope looking across Melbourne Pool. On the highest ground is a woodland garden on the remains of a tennis court, below which a network of paths lead down banks planted with specimen trees and interesting shrubs to a glade and bog garden on the edge of the Pool.   The return to the house takes in a large lawn surrounded by a rose tunnel, late summer borders and a bank of flowering shrubs at their best in midsummer.

The Church of St Michael and St Mary, Melbourne
Melbourne Hall was once a residence of the Bishops of Carlisle, who may have considered it more convenient and safer to venture no further north. This explains the magnificence of the neighbouring Norman church which Pevsner describes as one of the most ambitious parish churches in England. While it is sad that the twin towers on the west façade are unfinished, the spectacular Norman interior is indeed worthy of a bishop.

Melbourne Hall, Melbourne
Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr

The original hall at Melbourne was extended by two wings, that to the east, facing on to the garden was added in the early 18th century. The gardens were designed in 1699 and laid out in 1704 by the royal gardeners Henry Wise and George London for Queen Anne’s vice-chamberlain Thomas Coke. He required them to “suit with Versailles”. The scale is somewhat smaller, but the proportions of the terraces bounded, by yew hedges, running down to Robert Bakewell’s superlative ironwork arbour, give it a sense of grandeur. The garden contains many good lead figures by John van Nost and, at the top of The Grove, a formal woodland and water garden, is the spectacular Four Seasons vase, given to Thomas Coke by Queen Anne. This is a rare chance to see this magnificent survival, beautifully maintained on our own, as Lord Ralph has kindly agreed to open the garden for us.

Bluebell Nursery and Arboretum, Ashby de la Zouch
Bluebell Nursery is an exceptional family-run nursery with a very tempting array of interesting and desirable plants, which include trees and shrubs, as well as perennials, climbers and ferns. It also has a nine-acre arboretum, containing an extensive collection of trees and shrubs, informatively and helpfully labelled. This was started in 1992 and so it is interesting to see how fast trees and shrubs will grow and a walk through the arboretum to see the potential size and habit of a plant before buying is useful as well as a pleasure.

Meet at Church Square Melbourne.  Lunch at the Dower House.


5. Derbyshire

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Renishaw Hall, Renishaw
Mr and Mrs Richard Hayward

The Sitwells built Renishaw in the 1620s, originally an H-shaped Jacobean house, later Sitwells enlarged it. Sitwell Sitwell built the stables, gothicised the house and added the drawing room and ball room, the latter containing, amongst other treasurers, Salvatore Rosa’s stupendous painting of Belisarius acquired by Osbert Sitwell from Raynham Hall in the 1920s. Sir George Sitwell, dividing his time between Derbyshire and Italy, commissioned a billiard room from Lutyens and himself designed the magnificent garden to the south of the house. This is Italianate gardening at its very best. Yew hedges divide the garden into intimate sheltered spaces, restrainedly adorned with statues and vases and planted with remarkably tender shrubs and perennials. Beyond the final water jet and across the ha-ha, the Sitwells boast that one can see Hardwick Hall “with the eye of faith.”

Renishaw Hall Tour 5

Culland Hall, Ashbourne
Mr and Mrs Simon Thompson

The four-acre garden at Culland Hall is almost entirely the creation of Lucy Thompson, who has created it around the comfortable late 1930s house, built by her father-in-law on the site of an earlier house. The view across a shallow valley with lake and woodlands is perfect and the garden steps down from the house in terraces so nothing is obscured. Borders are filled with long-flowering perennials and balanced by the strong structure of box and yew hedging and lovely old garden buildings, contemporary with the earlier house. Vistas urge one from one delightful space to another: a box-hedged rose garden, double borders with great billowing masses of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, a woodland and fern garden and a long rose pergola in the kitchen garden underplanted by peonies.

Culland Hall Tour 4

Culland Hall Tour 5

Rectory House, Kedleston
Helene, Viscountess Scarsdale

The handsome, red-brick rectory at Kedleston, standing on the edge of the park, may have been designed by Samuel Wyatt, clerk of works at that time to Robert Adam, who was rebuilding the big house at Kedleston for Nathaniel Curzon, the first Lord Scarsdale. It is possible that Adam himself designed the elegant south façade with its gently-recessed arch. Some of the planting dates from this period, but the present, delightfully informal, woodland garden is the work of the present incumbent, Helene Scarsdale. An open lawn has a Cumbrian slate sphere as a focal point and  leads on into the woodland garden, planted with Rhododendrons and Azaleas for the spring, followed by roses and other flowering shrubs. The edges of a large pond, in the centre are softened with Primulas, Gunnera and Darmera.

Meet Renishaw Hall. Lunch at The Dower House

6. Northamptonshire

Wednesday 9 June 2021

The Old Rectory, Quinton
Mr and Mrs Alan Kennedy

The three-acre garden at the Old Rectory was designed by Anoushka Feiler and completed in 2015. Starting with a blank canvas, the garden is divided into separate sections, in front of the house, the drive is now decorated by sculptural shapes of cloud-pruned Parrotia persica, hornbeam and domes of yew softened by swathes of Hakonechloa. Behind the house, the old lawn has been excavated to create a sunken terrace, with shade provided by roof-form trained plane trees. An avenue of pleached hornbeam, separating the terrace from a planting of Osmanthus fragrans and Rosa ‘Winchester Cathedral, leads to an eye-catching glass garden room. Stone-edged rills run between blocks of late summer-flowering perennials and grasses. Elsewhere an old pond has been transformed into a natural swimming pond and a woodland garden gives onto the wild flower meadow and orchard.

The Old Rectory, Quinton Tour 6

The Old Rectory, Quinton Tour 6

Old Park Barn, Stoke Goldington
Mr and Mrs James Chua

Twenty-one years ago, James and Emily Chua acquired an empty three-acre field and set about creating an elegant and very personal garden.  Immediately behind the house a rectangular lawn is backed dramatically by a stone amphitheatre. Above this, gently formal, abundantly-planted, perennial borders, designed to provide year-long interest, are arranged with an avenue of hornbeam forming a central axis. This leads past an enclosed vegetable garden to an open flower meadow with bee orchids and a nearby pond and then into the informal woodland garden. Here the scale becomes more expansive and relaxed, walks, cleverly-edged with recycled branches between sinuous planting of deciduous trees, underplanted with woodland perennials and bulbs, lead to a hawthorn circle.

The Menagerie, Horton
Monsieur Hugues Decobert

The Menagerie at Horton was designed by Thomas Wright in the 1750s for Lord Halifax as an eye-catcher and zoo for the now demolished Horton Hall. It is a one-storey building with corner pavilions and a raised central block in the style of William Kent and is a very grand country house in miniature.  In 1972, the architectural historian Gervase Jackson-Stops bought the house, restored it and created the contemporary formal four-and-a-half-acre garden. From an open lawn directly behind the house, a central avenue of limes strikes out across the garden. On either side, a pair of radiating hornbeam-hedged vistas lead to circular pools and then onto two pavilions, one classical and one gothic. An immaculate walled garden, designed by Jinny Blom lies discretely to one side of the house. Gervase Jackson-Stops died in 1995, but The Menagerie, an intriguing 20th century interpretation of 18th century design, is in very good hands and beautifully maintained.   Over recent years the gardens have undergone restoration and a Stumpery and Exotic Garden have been added.

The Menagerie Tour 6

The Menagerie Tour 6

Meet at The Old Rectory, Quinton. Lunch at The Cowpers Oak, Weston-Underwood

7. Gloucestershire

To be confirmed

Daylesford House, Moreton-in-Marsh
The Lord and Lady Bamford

Daylesford was built by 1793 for Warren Hastings, the Governor General of Bengal. Lord and Lady Bamford acquired the estate in 1988 and have magnificently restored the garden. Behind the Orangery, which houses a collection of citrus trees, is the Secret Garden, built to mark the Millennium and designed by Rupert Golby. The Scented Walk, planted with Magnolias, Daphnes, lilac and lily-of-the-valley, leads to the two-acre walled garden which was restored with help from Lady Mary Keen. This spectacular space contains a vegetable garden and fruit garden, as well as two greenhouses, one for peaches, the other for seasonal vegetable production. Yew hedges divide the Rose Garden, the Quince Lawn, the cut flower and pot gardens. This is a rare opportunity to see a wonderful 18th century garden, beautifully restored, updated and functioning as it would have done for Warren Hastings.

Kingham Hill House
Mr R. Ian Molson

The garden at Kingham Hill House, which looks south over the gentle contours of the Evenlode valley, was designed by Rosemary Verey in the early 1990s and added to latterly by Rupert Golby. This is a garden of avenues and vistas; fastigiate oaks form an allée through the garden from the main drive, pleached limes lead the eye across the croquet lawn. The water garden fills the original walled garden where a cascade, framed by a double avenue of Acers, falls away towards an informal reed-fringed lake with a view of the church at Churchill on the horizon. An enclosed lavender garden surrounding an oval terrace with a sundial at its heart and scattered stone and box balls, is approached by tunnels of Wisteria floribunda ‘Snow Showers’. The four lavender–edged beds are planted with standard Wisteria, Prunus lusitanica, peonies, Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ and Agapanthus. The kitchen garden, completed in December 2005, provides all vegetables, cut flowers and fruit for use in the house

Rupert Golby will be taking us around both gardens.

Kingham Hill Tour 7

Kingham Tour 7

Meet at Daylesford Organic Farm Shop. Lunch at Daylesford Organic Farm Shop