Author Archives: jwey

6. Gloucestershire – Thursday 18 June

Rockcliffe Tour 6


Bywell, Sapperton, Nr Cirencester
Mr and Mrs Alex Kininmonth

Bywell is in that remote portion of the Cotswolds where the ground falls into steep and hidden valleys. It is hard to find, but very well worth the effort. Nearly everything has been built, planted and maintained by Alex Kininmonth himself. The scale of his achievement, on this steeply sloping site, only dawns gradually as the garden slowly reveals itself. The forecourt of the house is backed by a vertiginous south-facing bank lushly planted with Cistus, Helianthemum, Perovskia (and more) and crowned with a line of Italian cypress. Around the house, water, first encountered and crossed, at the foot of the bank, becomes an important and unifying feature of the garden, first as a canal, then circular infinity pool, a cascade and finally a naturally planted pool. Everywhere the planting is sumptuous and the garden ornaments are witty and downright impressive.

Daglingworth House, Daglingworth, Cirencester
Mr and Mrs David Howard

David and Etta Howard have a two-acre classical garden with humorous contemporary twists. There are reflective pools, a new pergola and sunken garden, some wonderful sculptures, and imaginative areas – (some tricks!) – all backed up with good planting; roses, grasses, herbaceous borders, set against beautiful Cotswold walls, including a large walled garden, and enhanced by its village setting close to the church and lovely views. This garden has been created with passion, and the owners have achieved a rather unusual and remarkable garden in the 25 years that they have been at Daglingworth House.

Rockliffe, Upper Slaughter, Nr Stow-on-the-Wold
Mr and Mrs Simon Keswick

The garden at Rockliffe is a perfect blend of informally-planted trees and shrubs and generously filled borders, balanced by a good strong structure of hedges, topiary and pleached limes. It recalls the best of 20th century gardening, but has a contemporary edge to the layout, not surprising as Emma Keswick has designed gardens for others.  The crisp simplicity of a long canal is offset by the softer planting of Cornus controversia ‘Variegata’ overhanging a sunken pool near the house. Beyond lies a series of enclosed gardens, reached by a walk with a wonderful long border. On the other side of the house, a shallow valley contains one of the best maintained kitchen gardens in the county. Above and beyond this, acting as an eye-catcher from the house, is a stone dovecote approached through an avenue of topiary doves.

Tours Abroad 2020

Palermo and Western Sicily
Sunday 10 – Thursday 14 May 2020

Sicily, in the centre of the Mediterranean, has been much coveted and fought over for all of its history. The Greeks, from the 8th century BC, colonised the south and east of the island and established city states of great wealth and splendour, the Phoenicians settled in the north and west and founded, amongst others, Palermo and Mozia. For the Romans, Sicily was the bread basket of the empire. The Moors were succeeded by the Normans, who called Sicily “The Kingdom of the Sun” and established a glittering court at Palermo, from where they governed a multicultural kingdom with extraordinary tolerance and harmony. Years of Angevin and Spanish rule followed with centuries of vice-regal neglect, interrupted by more direct rule as one half of the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Palermo is a vibrant melting pot, where all these influences are blended.

This five-day tour is based in Palermo, with time to explore the palaces, churches, markets and galleries in the city. In addition, we have an expedition to the west to take in the Greek temple at Segesta and a final day to the east at Cefalu.

Bologna, Mantua, Modena and Parma
Monday 25 – Friday 29 May 2020

The Apennines descend abruptly into the vast flat valley of the River Po and the river itself is the boundary between Emilia-Romagna, the northernmost Papal State, and to the west Lombardy, and to the east, the Veneto. Inevitably it has a confusing history. In the 16th century, a series of semi-independent dukedoms, mostly papal in origin, emerge. Parma was ruled by the Farnese, then Bourbons and latterly by Napoleon’s second Empress, Marie-Louise. Modena was the fief of the Este family, while across the River Po in Lombardy, Mantua was ruled by the highly cultured Gonzaga family. Bologna itself, which had become papal property in 1506, witnessed the coronation of Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor in 1530 and, apart from an artistic high point with Guido Reni and the Carracci family, slumbered in obscurity until aroused by the spirit of revolution in the 1830s. Notwithstanding this political jumble, what emerged were a series of beautiful cities, filled with treasures and famous for their food. Parma provides its eponymous ham and cheese; Modena is the home of balsamic vinegar and Bologna jealously guards its recipe for tortelloni.

This five-day tour is based in Bologna, giving time to explore the city, from here we will venture out to Parma, Mantua and Modena to see their most interesting sites; churches, galleries, theatres and palaces.

Houses and Gardens around Dublin and Central Ireland
Monday 7 – Friday 11 September 2020
Monday 14 – Friday 18 September 2020

Irish gardens come in all shapes and sizes and rarely is there a duff one. Enthusiastic gardening, usually taking advantage of the mainly acidic soil and the abundant rainfall, has been happening in Ireland for centuries, from the formal 17th century canal garden at Killruddery, through the great woodland gardens inspired by William Robinson in the 19th century, to the gardens of designers and plantsmen and women being created and tended today, invariably filled with interesting planting and gardened with huge confidence, knowledge and great generosity.

In this five-day tour, based in the centre of Dublin, we will cover the whole spectrum of Irish gardening in and around Dublin, south into County Wicklow and west as far as Offaly. We will visit historic gardens, including some spectacular gardens inspired by William Robinson, perhaps the most influential of all Irish gardeners, a garden designed by Lutyens and contemporary gardens created by the best of today’s gardeners including Helen Dillon and the siblings, June and Jimi Blake. We are also visiting a number of houses, in two of them we are having lunch and the others we are visiting for their spectacular interiors and collection of paintings.

Palaces, Galleries and Churches of Rome
Monday 26 -Thursday 29 October 2020

So much has been written about Rome already that it is difficult to express anything of the magic of this city with any originality. From its foundation in 753BC, it has piled layer upon layer of building and culture. From Republican Rome, through the imperial era and on into the centuries of Papal rule, the city evolved constantly. Classical temples rose and fell, medieval architecture was succeeded by the glories of the Renaissance, represented triumphantly by the rebuilding of St Peter’s by Bramante and Michelangelo, and the decoration of the Vatican by Raphael. The Counter-Reformation was expressed by the Baroque architecture of Bernini and Borromini and, in painting, supremely by Caravaggio.

In this four-day tour we visit a wide range of buildings within walking distance of our centrally located hotel. We will see buildings rarely open, or seldom visited, to provide another view of Rome than the one the casual tourist sees.

19. Oxfordshire – Thursday 24 September

Rofford Manor Tour 19

Rofford Manor Tour 19


The Grange, Chalgrove
Mr and Mrs Peter Farren

Vicky and Peter Farren bought the Grange for its ten-acre garden, which had been so neglected that, apart from the structure of trees and the lake, they had to rise to the challenge and start from scratch. An arboretum surrounds a rectangular pond, once used for swimming. Behind the house, curved borders are sheltered by yew hedges beyond which lies an orchard of venerable apples and a vegetable garden with raised beds. The garden runs down to a stream and on to the willow-fringed lake, crossed by elegant wooden, wisteria-clad bridges onto a densely planted island. On the far bank, borders filled with Miscanthus and late summer-flowering perennials lead past paddocks, fenced with cleft chestnut, to the wild flower meadow and new woodland walk.

Rofford Manor, Little Milton
Mr and Mrs Jeremy Mogford

Jeremy and Hilary Mogford started at Rofford with a blank canvas and began to lay out the garden to their own design, only later calling on Michael Balston to advise on the detailed planting. Far from resting on their laurels, this beautifully maintained garden is constantly evolving.  The entrance court sets the pace, with pleached limes growing from elegantly clipped box drums. Throughout the garden the planting is carefully considered; profusion in the borders, simplicity and restraint in planting and colour in the smaller garden rooms around the house. The long vista, across the croquet lawn, which leads the eye into the countryside beyond the ha-ha, is balanced by the immaculate walled kitchen garden. On the far side of three ha-has lie two lakes, a nut walk and a woodland walk.

Wormsley, Stokenchurch
Mr Mark Getty

The two-acre walled garden at Wormsley was built in 1740 in the most sheltered spot in this cold windswept valley high in the Chilterns. The estate fell into a state of disrepair until it was bought by Sir Paul Getty in 1985. Penelope Hobhouse was commissioned to rebuild and redesign the walled garden. Following her brief, the garden was divided into four quadrants separated by brick and knapped flint paths and buttressed yew hedges. Two quadrants are for entertaining, a green theatre in one and a croquet lawn in another.  The third is the kitchen garden proper, growing fruit and vegetables and backed by an array of glasshouses. Charlotte Tremlin, the Head Gardener, aims to keep this quadrant looking as much like a potager as possible. The fourth quarter is a flower garden with a mix of shrubs and perennials, which not only have to be in perfect form for the opera season in mid-summer, but to continue to perform through into the autumn.

18. Buckinghamshire – Thursday 3 September


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 and 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 Keen was asked to design a new garden, 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 peaking at the end of the summer. 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.

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 collection and where he could entertain his friends. The top of the hill was levelled and the formal gardens and the drives were designed by Elie Lainé, who was responsible for the slightly later restoration of the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte. The garden now, immaculately maintained, is still, inside the curtain of trees, many planted as mature specimens by Baron Ferdinand, intensely formal. Baron Ferdinand planted 41,000 bedding plants, with four changes a year, and Waddesdon is one of the rare places where this practice continues, perhaps on a slightly reduced scale.

17. Monmouthshire – Wednesday 2 September

Croesllanfro Farm, Rogerstone, Newport
Mr and Mrs Barry Davies
The garden surrounds Liz and Barry Davies’ old Welsh farmhouse in a comfortable informal embrace. From a terrace behind the house, furnished with planters filled with enormous Hostas, the garden opens out in a series of lawned spaces, bounded by hedges and densely planted herbaceous borders. The garden peaks in late summer in an explosion of colour. By the house pots of Dahlias and Agapanthus set the tone and this is picked up by the sweeping plantings of Persicaria, pink Japanese Anemones, Rudebeckias, Eutrochium and grasses. To one side of the house the ground rises towards a large restored barn and here Liz has designed a formal, minimalist courtyard, with one late-season flourish outside her potting shed, a border of Sedums, Cannas, Ricinus and Cleome.

Llanover House, Abergavenny
Mr and Mrs Ross Murray
Elizabeth Murray’s family have lived at Llanover since 1792. The bones of the garden, particularly the ponds, rill, the Round Garden and the landscaping of the park, were carried out then. Later generations have added to the gardens, particularly in the planting of trees and shrubs, most notably Elizabeth’s father, Robin Herbert CBE, who was President of the RHS. Apart from the rich collection of spring-flowering Magnolias and Rhododendrons, the two arboreta in the garden have fine specimens of Taxodium, Davidia, Cornus, Acers, Nyssa and Liquidambar for autumn colour as well as a number of Champion Trees. The garden is blessed with abundant water which flows from the hills above to fill the ponds, pour over cascades, meander through the bog garden and eventually join the nearby River Usk.

Highfield Farm, Penperlleni, Pontypool
Dr and Mrs Roger Lloyd
Roger and Jenny Lloyd had a remarkable garden in Cheshire, from which they moved before Border Lines could arrange a visit. Some four years ago they moved to Jenny’s old home in Monmouthshire and have created a new three-acre garden from scratch. In extraordinarily little time the garden has grown and matured and is filled with plants, mainly perennial, many rare, some widely available, but all of them first-rate. The garden is able to offer a wide range of conditions, from enclosed near-woodland, in deep to mottled shade, at the west end of the garden, through open borders in full sun, where hardy plants shelter much tenderer specimens, to the newest and highest part of the garden, which is almost gravel gardening, with wonderful long views towards the Black Mountains. The Lloyds’ enthusiasm for their garden and obsession with plants is highly infectious. This time they will not get away without that visit.

16. Kent – Friday 10 July

Long Barn Tour 16

Long Barn Tour 16


White House Farm, Ivy Hatch, Ightham
Maurice Foster VMH

Maurice and Rosemary Foster bought White House Farm and five acres in 1972, 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 ¼ mile of paths through the garden, and the velvet-leaved Hydrangea aspera. Forms with dark-coloured foliage in particular interest him and 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, 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.

15. Derbyshire – Wednesday 8 July

Melbourne Hall, Melbourne
Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr

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. The original house 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 figures in lead 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.

The Church of St Michael and St Mary, Melbourne
Pevsner describes the early 12th century church at Melbourne 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.

The Dower House, Melbourne
Mr and Mrs William Kerr

It is a few minutes’ walk, taking in the church en route, to Griselda and William Kerr’s garden. William inherited the 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 leads down banks of 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.

Bluebell Nursery and Arboretum, Ashby de la Zouch
Bluebell Nursery, should you wish to visit it under your own steam, is a twelve-minute drive from Melbourne. The arboretum contains an extensive collection of trees and shrubs, informatively and helpfully labelled. The nursery has a very tempting array of interesting and desirable plants.

14. Derbyshire – Tuesday 7 July

Renishaw Hall, Renishaw
Mr and Mrs Richard Hayward

The Sitwells built Renishaw in the 1620s, originally an H-shaped Jacobean house, latter Sitwells enlarged it. Sitwell Sitwell built the stables, gothicised the house, and added the drawing room and ball room, the latter containing, amongst other treasures, Salvator Rosa’s stupendous painting of Belisarius, acquired by Osbert Sitwell from Raynham Hall in Norfolk 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.” We will be given a tour of the house before exploring the garden.

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, as the garden steps down from the house in terraces, 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, underplanted by peonies, in the kitchen garden.

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 1st 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 this 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.

13. Buckinghamshire – Thursday 2 July

Waddesdon Manor Tour 13

Waddesdon Manor Tour 13


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 Keen 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.

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 top of the hill was levelled and the formal gardens and the drives 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, many planted as mature specimens by Baron Ferdinand, intensely formal. Baron Ferdinand planted 41,000 bedding plants, with four changes a year, and Waddesdon is one of the rare places where this practice continues, perhaps on a slightly reduced scale.

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 borders and winding paths, interestingly planted everywhere, lead into a woodland garden on either side of a small stream, crossed by a 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.

12. Suffolk – Wednesday 1 July

Ousden House Tour12

Ousden House Tour12


Great Thurlow Hall
Mr and Mrs George Vestey

Great Thurlow Hall is, in Pevsner’s words “a handsome mid-Georgian building”, which stands impressively above the River Stour and its 13 acres of garden. The main vista runs west from the house, overlooking a formal rose garden, planted with a central arrangement of creamy-white Claire Austin roses, past perennial borders and lawn sloping down to a bridge over the river (here gently swollen to almost lake-proportions), culminating in an avenue of Pyrus ‘Chanticleer,’ underplanted with Hydrangeas, with a temple portico in the distance. A blue-themed border, curving under an ancient yew, leads on to a red border, which echoes the colour of the brick wall of the kitchen garden. Through a wrought-iron gate is an enticing view of ancient apple trees following the line of the river. South of the house, curving yew hedges surround lawn and formal lily pond, a wider lawn beyond runs down to Atlantic cedars and the parkland beyond.

The Jockey Club Rooms, Newmarket
The Jockey Club

The Jockey Club was founded in 1750 for members with a keen interest in racing, who met in taverns in Pall Mall and St James’s. In 1752 they leased, and then bought, a plot of land in Newmarket and built a coffee house. The Jockey Club established rules to ensure fair racing on Newmarket Heath, which were gradually adopted by race courses across the country and abroad. Over time, the Jockey Club became the official governing body for horse racing in Britain. The coffee house was gradually enlarged and became the Jockey Club Rooms. In 1882 a large gabled wing was added to the rear, while the front, which was sympathetically rebuilt by Sir Alfred Richardson in 1933, incorporated the original coffee house. The Rooms now contain an unparalleled collection of equine paintings. We will be given a tour of the Rooms followed by lunch.

Ousden House, Ousden
Mr and Mrs Alastair Robinson

Alastair and Lavinia Robinson might be forgiven for settling down to enjoy their wonderful garden at Ousden but, after 25 years of planning and planting, it is still evolving. Arabella Lennox-Boyd gave some initial advice on the garden when the Robinsons were starting, with a clean slate, around the site of the demolished Ousden Hall, where only a clock tower and stable block remained, standing in a sloping field. The stable block, now their house, looks out over yew-hedged herbaceous borders towards a rose garden with double borders beyond. A double crinkle-crankle yew hedge surrounds the clock tower and winds towards gates into the park. Further from the house, the garden becomes more informal; a bog garden fills a former moat, and the woodland garden is maturing fast. Beyond this, and in delightful contrast to the rest of the garden, a beech wood runs down to a tranquil expanse of water.