Author Archives: jwey

15. Dorset – Thursday 6 September

Cranborne Manor - Tour 15

Cranborne Manor

Cranborne Manor - Tour 15

Cranborne Manor

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 now is 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 - Tour 15

St Giles House

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 wild-flower 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.

7. Berkshire and Hampshire – Wednesday 20 June

Earlstone Manor, Burghclere
Mr and Mrs Bruce Ginsberg

This is a truly remarkable garden created by a passionate grower of box. The house, once owned by William of Wykeham in the 14th century, was a recusant manor and is believed by archaeologists to be the oldest house in Hampshire. It was extended in the 17th and 18th centuries and the house matches perfectly the formal and topiaried style of the garden, where box is clipped into patterns and forms parterres, knots and mazes, softened by great billowing mounds of rosemary and lavender. All is framed by tall hornbeam hedges cut into arches and curved into theatrical apses. Two mounts give wonderful bird’s eye views of the garden. In delightful contrast, a Georgian-style chinoiserie garden is a recent addition and echoes the wooden Chinese bridge across the lake.

Kirby House - Tour 7

Kirby House

Kirby House, Inkpen
Mrs Richard Astor

Kirby House is often described as a ‘stately home in miniature’. The original house was built in 1733 and then over doubled in size by Admiral Franklin in 1761 to house four large tapestries that he had captured from a French ship. Its setting on the northern edge of the South Berkshire Downs with views of Combe Gibbet is enchanting and the garden a delight. Areas of the garden were designed by Harold Peto for his brother Basil who lived at Kirby from 1906-1912. A terrace, with a simple box parterre gives onto the main lawn with views to the downs beyond. There is a lake, lily pond garden, reflecting pool, herbaceous, shrub and rose border divided by yew buttresses and a walled garden. The garden is enhanced by contemporary sculpture including two works by William Pye.

Hazelby House, East Woodhay
Mr and Mrs Patrick Hungerford

Hazelby House - Tour 7

Hazelby House

Patrick Hungerford took on the garden owned and designed by Martin Lane Fox and has, over the years, developed it with huge panache. The rose garden has been opened up to be better seen from the house.  Roses, under-planted with Nepeta, Geraniums, and Alchemilla, are anchored with box and standard Ligustrum superbum. A yew arch leads to a long rose-covered pergola which ends with a snail-shaped mound which gives views over the wild-flower meadow and, through a curtain of woodland, to the downs beyond. Shrub borders have been replaced by lawn to open the view to the lakes and the woodland garden, in the latter a seam of acid soil encourages Rhododendrons and Hydrangeas to thrive among clumps of Gunnera and Rheum. A spectacular greenhouse, filled with tender treasures, presides over an immaculate kitchen garden.

5. Wiltshire and Hampshire – Friday 15 June

Maslens Farm - Tour 5

Maslens Farm

Maslens Farm, Alton Barnes
Mr and Mrs Michael Balston

It is interesting to see what garden designers do in their own garden. Michael and Meriel Balston had a large garden which they swapped six years ago for this one closer to the Marlborough Downs. The enchanting 15th century farmhouse with additions is surrounded by a walled garden which, though comparatively small, packs quite a punch. On one side of a pleached lime allée a box parterre, due to be replanted with Teucrium lucidum this winter, shares the space with a shrub-fringed lawn with steps leading to a raised terrace. On the other, there is a large circular pool in planted paving. Behind the house, a sunken garden leads to Meriel’s studio and beyond that a small vegetable garden. This is a garden where strong structural elements are combined with interesting planting as you would expect from a vice-president of the RHS.

Redenham Park - Tour 5

Redenham Park

Redenham Park, Andover
Lady Clark

Redenham Park, built in 1784, has been Olivia Clark’s home since 1976. The world is kept at bay by a deep screen of trees and beyond lies a wide bowl of parkland with the house at its heart. The garden, designed by Olivia Clark, sits discreetly behind the house and is, in high summer, an abundance of roses and perennials. The rose garden is planted with pink and white-flowered roses with a foam of Alchemilla in the paving. An arch, covered with Paul’s Himalayan Musk, leads through to the main late-summer borders. After a calm green interlude of pleached limes and a croquet lawn with a tapestry hedge, a door in a cob wall opens onto a series of gardens with espaliered pears and apples and a mass of scented roses, culminating in the immaculate kitchen garden.

Broadleas House - Tour 5

Broadleas House

Broadleas House, Devices
Mr and Mrs Richard Cardiff

Broadleas House, then a neglected wilderness, was bought by Lady Anne Cowdray in 1946. She gardened here for 63 years until her death in 2009. Fortunately, Mr and Mrs Cardiff, have maintained the best of Anne Cowdray’s magnificent garden while adding their own contemporary contributions. A long terrace, where shrubs and perennials sprawl comfortably across the gravel, leads past an enclosed garden, in which Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’ flourishes with little winter protection. The Bannermans have added a thatched garden house near a Camellia-hedged secret garden. Pleached hornbeam and yews screen a vegetable garden en route to a new bee-friendly garden. The most spectacular feature of the garden is the four-acre combe lying below the house. Here, among ancient oaks, Anne Cowdray planted Magnolias, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Hydrangeas, as well as wonderful Cornus, Acers and Paulownias. This long was, and still is, a wonderful garden.

3. Cheshire – Wednesday 6 June

Henbury Hall - Tour 3

Henbury Hall

Henbury Hall, Macclesfield
Mrs Sebastian de Ferranti

It is difficult to decide whether the house or the garden at Henbury Hall is more remarkable. The house was built in 1984-1986, a collaboration between the owner Sebastian de Ferranti, the architect, Julian Bicknell, and the artist Felix Kelly. It is a reinterpretation of Palladio’s Villa Rotonda for life in 20th century England. The 12 acre garden, whose origins belong to a former Hall, lies secretly in the lake-filled valley below the house. Occasional glimpses of the Palladian dome, arising from the banks of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Embothriums, Cornus, Parottia and Magnolias, which are interspersed with maples and birches, give the garden a dream-like quality.

Henbury Hall - Tour 3

Henbury Hall

A Chinese bridge designed by Felix Kelly at one end of the lake, is echoed by an oriental pavilion at the other, while a gothic ruin sits among mounds of Gunnera. On the far side of the lake long glasshouses, containing a collection of figs frame the entrance to a large kitchen garden. During the morning we will visit both the house and the garden.

Biddulph Old Hall, Biddulp
Nigel Daly Esq and Brian Vowles Esq

The history of Biddulph Old Hall is long, involved and fascinating. It is a house with remarkable connections, to the Pre-Raphaelites, the Cotswold Arts and Crafts Movement and, most splendidly of all, to the gardens of Ninfa. The original building was a Tudor hall house, which was greatly extended by the Biddulph family in the 1580s when they built “a statelike and fair house of stone”. The new house was besieged by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War and suffered extensive damage. The Biddulph family retreated back into the old house, and remained until the house was bought by James Bateman, the creator of the celebrated garden at Biddulph Grange. His son, Robert, the Pre-Raphaelite painter, lived at Biddulph Old Hall. After many decades of neglect, the house was bought by Nigel Daly and Brian Vowles, who have stabilised the ruins, planting a garden inside the walls appropriately reminiscent of Ninfa (Ada Caetani who initiated the planting of Ninfa was Robert Bateman’s cousin) and, magically, have restored the old hall. While doing all of this, Nigel has also written a book about Robert Bateman. We will be shown around both the old and new halls by Nigel and Brian, who will explain the history of both.

2. Devon – Thursday 17 May

Mothecombe House, Holeton
Mr and Mrs Anthony Mildmay

Enchanting Mothecombe House, where we will visit both the house and garden, though built in 1710, looks like a perfect post-Restoration house. It sits in a deliciously sheltered valley surrounded by intimate walled gardens; a formal flower garden with borders crammed with Echiums and a terrace designed by Lutyens (who also added the dining room onto the south side of the house) and a kitchen garden designed to attract bees. Below the house, an orchard gives way to woodland gardens, filled with Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Pieris, Parottia and Cercidiphyllum which follow the course of a stream, through Gunnera-fringed pools, down to the sea.

Lukesland, Ivybridge
Mrs Brian Howell and Mrs John Howell

The Victorian gothic house at Lukesland was built in 1862 as a hunting lodge. It now sits in the midst of a 24 acre woodland garden that has been tended by the Howell family since 1930. A stream, sometimes a torrent, rises on Dartmoor and flows through the garden in a series of ornamental pools and cascades. On either side lie the gardens, Victorian in origin though substantially replanted by the Howells over the last 80 years. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas are magnificent in the spring, likewise a spectacular Davidia involucrata on the bank below the house. Perhaps the most remarkable plant, in a garden filled with horticultural delights, is the vast, tree-sized, Magnolia campbellii which was planted near the stream in 1936. It will, sadly have flowered long before our visit.


Bickham House - Tour 2

Bickham House

Bickham House, Kenn, Nr Exeter
Mrs John Tremlett

The 17th century house at Bickham was given a deep, colonnaded veranda on two sides of the house as part of a Regency makeover. It stands, in a sheltered tree-clad combe, above its park with a timeless lake which, surprisingly, was dug out only recently by John and Julia Tremlett. There was no garden when Julia inherited apart from some good trees, shrubs and bulbs, now a seven-acre garden wraps comfortably around the back of the house. A terrace gives onto a long lawn with borders to one side, behind these the woodland garden of Camellias, Magnolias, Rhododendrons and a very tall Liriodendron is spectacular in the spring. A formal courtyard, with a central pool, lies behind the house and, beyond, the walled garden is still a hugely productive mixture of vegetable, fruit and flowers. A central path edged with Nepeta, leads the eye down the length of the garden to an avenue of Trachycarpus fortunei and a Millennium summer house.

1. Devon and Cornwall- Wednesday 16 May

Trematon Castle - Tour 1

Trematon Castle

Trematon Castle
Mr and Mrs Julian Bannerman

In 2012 Julian and Isabel Bannerman sold Hanham Court, their house near Bristol, and took on the lease at Trematon. They acquired a real castle, complete with battlemented keep, and a late Georgian house with spectacular views across the River Tamar to the navy at Devonport. In only six years they have created a sumptuous garden. To the side of the house, the keep stands on its wildflower-studded mound; cowslips and primroses in April, ferns, wild thyme and marjoram in summer. A great sweeping bank decorated with signature Bannerman obelisks is awash with Iris, peonies, roses, Salvias and Campanulas. Rambler roses are trained against the walls, the gatehouse border is another mass of roses and peonies. Euphorbias are everywhere in the spring and Echiums in the summer. It is a work in progress, but what progress has been made.

Thorn House - Tour 1

Thorn House

Thorn House
Mr and Mrs John Gibson

The views from Thorn House, built on a terrace above the Yealm Estuary, must be among the most spectacular in the country. Dartmoor rises dramatically to the north and, to the south, one can almost see the sea. The house dates from 1806, but the garden was created by William Arkwright who arrived in 1920 and laid out the formal lawn, rose garden and Long Walk which are magnificently decorated with vast marble urns originally from Trentham in Staffordshire. Eva and John Gibson have been gardening at Thorn since 1981 and they have restored the formal gardens and spectacularly replanted the woodland garden which is the great glory of Thorn. Here wonderful rarities rub shoulders with champion trees; Umbellularia californica grows close to the largest Eucalyptus dalrympleana in the country. The ground, carpeted in spring with cyclamen growing under Azaleas, Magnolias and Rhododendrons from Nepal and the Australian Blue Mountains, slopes down to the glittering waters of the estuary below.

Ince Castle - Tour 1

Ince Castle

Ince Castle
The Viscount and Viscountess Boyd of Merton

Ince Castle is approached by a long avenue and is an unusual and attractive, crenellated building, with low square towers at each corner, dating from the mid 17th century. It stands on a wind-swept peninsula of the River Lynher, part of the complex estuary that makes up Plymouth Sound. In 1960 Patricia Boyd started to design the garden, laying out the formal garden to the south of the castle, with a wisteria lawn leading down to a lily pond and built the enchanting shell house and dovecot in 1964. The woodland garden, planted with magnolias, camellias and other shrubs around the 19th century bowling green was created at the same time. The current owners, Simon and Alice Boyd, have lowered the lawn on the east side, added the wooded mound and the evergreen oak allée. Sadly Ince Castle is now on the market so this could be the very last opportunity to see it.