Author Archives: jwey

11. Berkshire – Tuesday 30 June

Woolton House Tour 11

Folly Farm, Sulhamstead
The house and garden at Folly Farm were one of the most successful and charming designs of Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. An existing farmhouse, with origins as a 17th century cottage, was incorporated into the house built 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. 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.

There is a maximum of twelve places on this tour.

10. Gloucestershire – Friday 26 June

Stowell Park, Northleach
The Lord and Lady Vestey

Stowell was built in the early 17th century on the site of an earlier house, proof that, even then, the quintessentially English view, across parkland, over the valley of the River Coln and into Chedworth Woods rising up the far bank, enchanted. The Elizabethan house was enlarged in the 1880s, about the time the garden was laid out. Below the house, formal terraces drop away towards the park; the highest paved, the next grass with double herbaceous borders and the lowest with gigantic yew buttresses seemingly supporting the high stone wall. From here a vista takes the eye through stone gatepiers topped with ball finials, past a 17th century dovecote and a woodland garden, into the park. Behind the house lies the spectacular walled garden. This is divided into sections, for vegetables, fruit and cutting borders and a central rose pergola, underplanted with box hedges, crosses the width of the garden to the peach house, one of a series of specialist glasshouses in the walled garden.

Clapton Manor, Clapton-on-the-Hill
Karin and James Bolton

The two-acre garden wraps round the 16th and 17th century house in a series of separate spaces enclosed by hedges of box, yew and hornbeam. By the house, pollarded limes rise from borders of early summer-flowering perennials divided by yew buttresses. A pyramid of clipped Prunus lusitanica is surrounded by beds filled with Helianthus, Dahlias and Salvias for late-summer colour. Behind a barn, the garden continues with panels of long grass, trees and flowering shrubs and beech hedges clipped to give a false perspective.

Wychwood Manor, Ascott-under-Wychwood
Mr and Mrs Alex Wilmot-Sitwell

An avenue of lime trees leads up to the forecourt of Wychwood Manor, which has been planted very soberly with yew, box, Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ and Alchemilla. This discretion only hints at the triumphant creation of Isabel and Julian Bannerman which lies on the far side of the house. Pedimented oak gates lead onto a generous terrace almost swamped with Cistus, lavender, Stachys and Helianthemum. Circular steps lead down to a lawn surrounded on four sides with borders, containing monumental yews, underplanted with roses and perennials.  The main axis from the house continues down more steps, now framed by honeysuckle and lavender, to a formal lily-filled pool surrounded by yellow and blue borders and on through stone pillars towards the orchard and the lake.

9. Devon – Wednesday 24 June

Hamblyn’s Coombe
Bridget McCrum

The position of Bridget McCrum’s seven-acre garden is no less spectacular than Little Dartmouth Farm, which we visit later. Instead of the English Channel, it looks across the Dart estuary, with steep, thickly-wooded banks plunging down to the river. The house, originally an 1837 woodman’s cottage, stands on the south side of the river, with the garden, the passion of Bridget’s late husband, Captain Robert McCrum, rising up behind the house to merge into the trees. Bridget’s sculptures are inspired by the landscape of the Dart estuary and the flights of birds below her house, their positioning throughout the garden was a collaborative decision taken between Bridget and her husband. Paths and steps link a yew and box-hedged enclosure to terraces below the house where the borders are filled with Fuchsias, Rogersias, Salvias, Perovskia and Acers, Cornus and Hydrangeas in profusion. A stream running down the hill, is planted with Gunnera, ferns and bamboos. Further down towards the river open lawn is balanced by thickets of Rhododendrons and plantings of orchard trees.

Little Dartmouth Farm
Edward and Sally Benthall

In 2005 Edward and Sally Benthall bought Little Dartmouth Farm, with its 300 acres, looking over the sea on the South Devon coast.  They began the award-winning restoration and remodelling of both farmhouse and outbuildings and engaged Dan Pearson to design the garden and oversee the landscaping. Biodiversity and sustainability were key priorities; rainwater is harvested, compost heaps abound and, as the design started on the periphery and worked inwards, native hedges and trees were planted, blending the garden into the landscape. In front of the house the garden is kept very simple; borders of clipped Phillyria, Erigeron and Phlomis beside the terrace, further on mown and long grass, trees and a pond, beyond these the encompassing views of the sea. Sally had the inspired idea of removing the roof of one farm building to create a sheltered walled garden behind the house, now filled with Euphorbia mellifera, clipped Griselinias, Magnolias underplanted with, among much else, Panicum, Rosa mutabilis and Dierama. Terraced above this walled garden is a vegetable garden and beyond that orchards. This is a garden that points the way forward for gardening; respecting its environment, responding to the seasons, sustainable and, above all, enchanting.

8. Dorset – Tuesday 23 June

Cranborne Manor Tour 8

Cranborne Manor, Cranborne
The Viscount Cranborne

In the reign of King John, Cranborne was a royal hunting lodge which, in a ruinous state, was given to Robert Cecil by a grateful James I. In the 1610s Cecil rebuilt the house, adding loggias to the north and south fronts, though the handsome library wing is slightly later. He employed John Tradescant and Mountain Jennings to design a formal garden around the house. The Cecils then abandoned Cranborne until the 1860s, when Lord Salisbury took the house back in hand from two tenant farmers and restored the house. Since then successive generations have lavished affection on both house and garden. In the 1960s Lady Salisbury, a great gardener, planted box parterres, a white garden and extensive borders filled with perennials. The garden has been simplified and updated by the current Lady Salisbury and is now in the charge of her daughter, Georgiana Campbell, who will take us on a private tour of the garden, giving us the history of the manor and explaining the changes that she is making to this enchanting and very personal family garden.

St Giles House, Wimborne St Giles
The Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury

The origin of St Giles House was a medieval manor which was acquired by the Ashley family in the mid 15th century. A Tudor building was extensively rebuilt by the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury in the 1650s and modified in the 1740s by Henry Flitcroft. The house suffered in the 20th century, but has been rescued and magnificently restored by the current Lord Shaftesbury who inherited in 2005. What Lord Shaftesbury has achieved in a short space of time is nothing short of remarkable. Most of the 18th century rooms have been fully restored, a contemporary entrance has been added to the north front of the house, a garden, part formal, part wildflower meadows has been created and, in the park, the main avenue replanted, the lake dredged and the wonderful shell grotto restored. Probably the most astonishing room in the house is the Great Dining Room, where we will have lunch. Here a startling approach has been taken to the restoration, which has resulted in a visually thrilling space. Most importantly, the house is once again lived in by Lord Shaftesbury, who will take us around the house.

It is now possible to stay in the recently restored and converted 17th century Riding House at St Giles House. If you would like to book, please do so via the website

7. Wiltshire – Friday 19 June

Ferne House, Ferne, Nr Shaftesbury
The Viscount and Viscountess Rothermere

Lady Rothermere and Rupert Golby originally designed the garden around Quinlan Terry’s classical house at Ferne and, when the house was enlarged in the last few years, Rupert returned to adjust the garden to accommodate the new layout. Double avenues of limes stretch to the hills to the south and garden rooms of clipped hedges decorated with standard wisterias echo the architecture of the building. An immaculate potager, a decorative orchard, a cascade into an informal lake and a minimalist swimming pool with a pool house based on the Praeneste Terrace in the garden at Rousham are among the many delights of this magnificent garden.

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 in 1969. Bubbling up in a pool adjoining the lake, 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 away from two throne-like chairs in series of cascades, bounded by densely planted perennial borders, into pools inspired by Moorish gardens. At this point the two water courses meet. 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 hornbeam hedges and creating a new garden in a courtyard outside her kitchen. Jellicoe’s masterpiece is in very safe hands.

5. Hertfordshire – Tuesday 16 June

Serge Hill Tour 5

Serge Hill

The Barn, Serge Hill, Bedmond
Sue and Tom Stuart-Smith

Not surprisingly, the garden at The Barn continues to develop and expand. The courtyard in front of the house has water tanks from a Chelsea Flower Show garden, the mellow rust of the tanks complementing the colour of the roof tiles, and the surrounding rusty and purple flowers of Tom Stuart-Smith’s trademark perennials: Salvias, Euphorbia, Eryngiums and Sedums. Behind the house, the main part of the garden is divided by an imposing long vista of double borders punctuated by tall hornbeam hedges. Thick plantings of Maclayeas, Achilleas, white Epilobium and grasses are followed by refreshingly empty spaces contained within the hedges, drawing the eye out to the rolling hills beyond. On the other side of the house, a large space, through which grass paths meander, is densely filled with Asters, Rudbeckias, Dianthus, Eryngiums and a mass of other perennials flowering throughout the summer.

Serge Hill, Bedmond
Kate Stuart-Smith

Serge Hill is a charming white Regency building, with a glass-roofed veranda which gives it a distinctly maritime air. This is where two generations of Stuart-Smiths have gardened and where Kate Stuart-Smith is now in charge. Tom and his parents planted the old drive with rhododendrons for early summer and the lawn in front of the house gives a view of gently rolling parkland. Kate, Ed and a constantly changing team of WWOOFers, spend most of their time in the old walled garden, where the walls are festooned with climbers and arches covered in roses and clematis. The beautiful greenhouse bursts with seedlings, cuttings, tomatoes and peppers and looks over the orderly vegetables towards a delicious chaos of perennials beyond. With a  final flourish a long, mainly shrub, border outside the walled garden returns towards the house.

Pie Corner, Bedmond
Jeremy and Bella Stuart-Smith

The garden around this remarkable modern house was created by Bella Stuart-Smith, a garden designer and plantswoman, with much help from the family. The house sits in a shallow valley looking out across a terrace and lawn into the parkland beyond. On one side of the house a series of hedge-enclosed formal spaces with mixed perennial and shrub planting, cleverly merges into the boundary of trees on the bank rising above the house. Clouds of box conceal the swimming pool and the eye is drawn towards topiary-flanked steps that lead up the bank. On the other side of the house this formality is matched, but softened in anticipation of the informal planting of the woodland garden beyond. An arch covered with the long-flowering rose ‘Blush Noisette’ leads into a vegetable garden which balances, across the main lawn, an enclosure for chickens shaded by cherry trees.

4. Bedfordshire – Thursday 11 June

Woburn Abbey, Woburn
The Duke and Duchess of Bedford

The Cistercian abbey at Woburn was granted to the 1st Earl of Bedford in 1547. A fragment of the existing house dates from the 1630s, but the bulk is the work, first of Henry Flitcroft in the 1740s and then of Henry Holland in the 1780s. Humphry Repton provided the 6th Duke with a Red Book in 1805 and it is his proposals for the garden, largely carried out, that the current duchess is gradually restoring. Behind the house is Holland’s Chinese Dairy, beside which Repton planned another Chinese temple in front of the Children’s Garden, which was, in the event, placed in his Arboretum. The open space, now the focal point for the annual Woburn Garden Show was originally Repton’s terraced winter garden, which lead down to the Menagerie, forerunner of today’s Safari Park, of which the Aviary and Pine Cone Pavilion have been restored. Repton’s flower garden in front of his spectacular Camelia House has also been restored.

Woburn Abbey is closed to the public until April 2021, so this very special tour of the gardens will be entirely private.

Bedford House, Woburn
Henrietta, Duchess of Bedford

In 2002 Jessica Duncan advised on the layout of the garden at Bedford House and her brief was to create an open informal space between the house and the wall which separates the garden from the park around Woburn Abbey. Around the house, terraces generously planted with standard Wisteria and a spreading sea of Russian daisy, are given an exotic twist with Fejoia sellowiana. A wide, open lawn is planted with clumps of trees, among the groves of white -trunked Himalayan Birch. A picturesque, thatched summer house conceals a door in the perimeter wall which gives, Alice-like, onto the woodland walk around the extensive lake on the edge of the park. There has been much restoration and replanting over the years, particularly under the care of Peter Crann, the head gardener, who has lifted the canopies of trees and opened vistas across the lake. The ultimate object of this garden was to create an area where everything looked natural, thus creating the feeling of peace.

3. Gloucestershire – Wednesday 10 June

Kingham Hill Tour 3

Kingham Hill

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

Daylesford was built by 1793 for Warren Hastings, Governor General of Bengal, Lord and Lady Bamford acquired 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 maples, 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 balls 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.

2. Northamptonshire – Tuesday 9 June

The Old Rectory, Quinton Tour 2

The Old Rectory, Quinton

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, an open flower meadow with bee orchids and a nearby pond and on 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 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, a woodland garden gives onto the wild flower meadow and orchard.

The Menagerie, Horton
Monsieur Hugues Decobert

The Menagerie at Horton was designed by Thomas Wright 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 gothick. 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.

1. Dorset – Wednesday 20 May

The Old Rectory Pulham Tour 1

The Old Rectory, Pulham

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. 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.

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.