Category Archives: Day Tours 21

4. Derbyshire

Monday 7 June 2021

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.

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 4

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.

11. Dorset

Monday 21 June 2021

Stanbridge Mill, Gussage All Saints
The Lord and Lady Phillimore

Arabella Lennox-Boyd originally designed the gardens at Stanbridge Mill, but subsequent head gardeners, while beautifully maintaining her layout, have added to the gardens. The gin-clear River Allen and its mill-race meander through the property, with walks along the banks towards the Fishing Hut designed by John Stefanidis. South of the house, huge willows spread over informal borders of roses and perennials. These run down to a grove of birch trees, surrounded by a double circle of tall beech hedges. Behind the house, a series of formal garden compartments are enclosed by a cobb wall in what had been the miller’s garden. A vista towards the swimming pool leads through several garden rooms, one with a cloister of pleached limes. The attention to detail throughout the garden, from paving to planting, is magnificent. In recent years the garden has been taken in hand by the Phillimores and their head gardener, and this lovely garden is flourishing in very safe hands.

Knoll Gardens, Hampreston
Neil Lucas

The four acres of Knoll Garden could hardly provide a greater contrast to Stanbridge Mill. Originally carrot fields, these were transformed into an arboretum in the 1970s. Woody botanic treasures include a Cork Oak, a Ginkgo, Eucalyptus, the Australian Snowdrop Tree, Atherosperma moschatum, the Willow Oak, Quercus phellos, and Crinodendron hookerianum. In late 1994 Neil Lucas took over and began another radical replanting. To the existing trees and shrubs were added great swathes of perennials including Persicarias, Heleniums, Verbenas, Helianthus, Asters and Sanguisorbas, and above all, grasses. Having arrived with about twenty species, mostly Miscanthus and Pennisetum, the range has expanded hugely over the last 26 years, demonstrating the versatility of grasses, both in habit and habitat, ranging from Panicum to shade-loving Hakonechloa. The garden now houses the National Collection of Pennisetum. Although it is a garden regularly open, we will have a private tour with its creator, Neil Lucas.

Knoll Gardens Tour 11

Knoll Gardens Tour 11

Meet at Stanbridge Mill. Lunch at 10 Castle Street, Cranborne

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

12. Dorset

Tuesday 22 June 2021

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.

Cranbourne Manor Tour 12

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.

St Giles House

St Giles House Tour 12

Meet at Cranborne Manor. Lunch at St Giles House

13. Devon

Wednesday 23 June

Hamblyn’s Coombe, Dittisham
Bridget McCrum

Hamblyn's Coombe Tour 13

Hamblyn’s Coombe Tour 13

The position of the Bridget McCrum’s seven-acre garden is no less spectacular than Little Dartmouth Farm although, 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 both by the landscape of the Dart estuary and the flights of birds below her house. The placing of the sculptures 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, Little Dartmouth
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, filled now 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.

Meet at Hamblyn’s Coombe. Lunch at Little Dartmouth Farm

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

14. Devon

Thursday 24 June 2021

Wildside, Buckland Monachorum
Keith Wiley

Wildside Tour 14

For 25 years Keith Wiley was the Head Gardener at The Garden House, Lionel Fortescue’s legendary garden in Devon. He very successfully extended the garden and introduced his own particular style of naturalistic planting. In 2004 he and his wife Ros moved half a mile to the west to start a nursery and a new garden from scratch. The four-acre site was a young cider orchard with a wonderful southerly aspect. Keith got to work on a digger and transformed the flat site into one of the most remarkable contemporary gardens in Britain. From the central semi-formal courtyard garden with a 90 metre Wisteria pergola, the garden drops down into the lower garden, where Keith has carved out banks and hollows with paths meandering through the intensively planted slopes which provide an almost bewildering range of different habitats to accommodate both sun-loving plants on the well-drained tops to shade loving woodland plants on the damper, cooler north facing slopes. It is still a work in progress, as the upper end of the garden, known as the Canyons, with dramatic six-metre-high cliffs, carved by Keith, now includes a tribute garden to his late wife Ros due to be finished this spring, featuring a water garden inspired by South African wild flowers.


Hotel Endsleigh Tour 14

Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot
Endsleigh is perhaps the best-preserved Picturesque garden in England. The house was built for the 6th Duke of Bedford between 1810 and 1815, designed by Jeffry Wyatt, who went on to transform Windsor Castle for George IV. In 1814 Humphry Repton, who had already provided the duke with a Red Book for Woburn in 1805, was called in to advise on the garden and produced another Red Book for Endsleigh. The situation is superb, Wyatt’s cottage ornée looks over the valley of the River Tamar, with wooded hills rising in gently undulations beyond. Repton realised that he need do little with the “Grandeur of the Landscape…. I must only turn frame maker instead of Landscape Gardener.” Nevertheless, a garden was created around the house. A grass terrace links the house with a Shell House, above this is a spectacular Long Border and Repton’s 100 metre Rose Walk. A children’s garden was created outside the nursery wing with a curving rill to sail toy boats. Wyatt built an Ice House and a Dairy for the duchess in a dell below the house and Repton, and subsequent generations of Russells planted magnificent trees. In 2005 Olga Polizzi was seduced by the charm of the setting and bought Endsleigh to run it as an hotel.

Meet at Wildside. Lunch at Hotel Endsleigh

17. Suffolk

Thursday 1 July 2021

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 the old stable block remained standing. 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.

Ousden House Tour12

Ousden House Tour 12

Meet at Great Thurlow Hall. Lunch at The Jockey Club Rooms

19. East Lothian

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Blackdykes, North Berwick
Sir Hew and Lady Dalrymple

The Dalrymples have been gardening at Blackdykes since 1992, when they moved into the unmodernised house then standing in open farmland less than a mile from the North Sea. Nearly 30 years on the transformation is astonishing. The two-acre garden wraps round the house in a delicious blend of informal shelterbelts, now providing woodland walks, which are vital to keep north and east winds at bay and, nearer to the house, more formal compartments separated by walls and clipped hedges, shelter Janey’s generous plantings of perennials and, particularly, roses; Albertine covers one wall and the parterre garden is filled with old roses including Fantin Latour, Charles de Mills, Ispahan and Great Maiden’s Blush. There is so much to this garden, with vistas through archways in walls which beckon from one delight to the next.

Leuchie Walled Garden
Sir Hew and Lady Dalrymple

Janey Dalrymple has also worked on the restoration of the five-acre walled garden at nearby Leuchie House, which was Sir Hew’s family home. The replanting of this enormous space is a work in progress, but the area in front of the very striking mid-century modern house built into the surrounding wall, has an existing 100-metre-long herbaceous border running in front of the south-facing wall and, across an open expanse of lawn, a newly planted formal garden with Nepeta and Iris, Cotinus and Euphorbia, merges into a regenerated shrub border and ancient Irish yews.

Greywalls, Gullane
Sir Edwin Lutyens designed Greywalls for MP and Colonial Secretary Alfred Lyttleton in 1901. Lyttleton was a keen golfer who required a holiday home close to Muirfield Golf Links “within a mashie niblick shot of the 18th green.”. Lutyens described Greywalls as his favourite house. In 1908 the house was extended by Sir William Lorimer for Mr and Mrs William James, so that they could entertain, among others, Edward VII. Because, like Blackdykes, the garden needs protection from the wind, it lies to the south of the house, enclosed by stone walls with typical Lutyens decorative gateways leading seductively from one enclosure to another. A rose garden by the house has a long vista through the gardens to the south, ending with a Lutyens claire voyée framing the view of the Lothian Hills.

Shepherd House, Inveresk
Sir Charles and Lady Fraser

Charles and Ann Fraser have created a garden that, tardis-like, seems much bigger than its one acre. Behind the house a formal herb parterre and a terrace are separated from the garden by a low hedge of pleached Malus ‘Red Sentinel’. A rill runs from an almost baroque fountain under arches smothered with the roses ‘Seagull’ and ‘Bobby James’ towards the lily-filled pool by the house. There is a delicious small wildflower meadow with dry stone spiral, more land-art than seat. A woodland garden has good trees, among them Prunus serrula and a Davidia involucrata. A shell house has been built beside the potager and the practical vegetable garden. In short, this is a garden, which is one of the top ten small gardens in Scotland, as charming as its owners.

Shepherd House Tour 19

Meet at Blackdykes. Meet at Lunch at Greywalls

20. East and West Lothian

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Hopetoun House
The Earl and Countess of Hopetoun

Hopetoun House is the work of two of Scotland’s greatest architects; Sir William Bruce, Surveyor-General of the King’s Works in Scotland, who designed the original house between 1698 and 1710, and William Adam who greatly extended the house from 1720 until his death in 1748. Adam also designed the surrounding parkland in the 1720s. To the south of the house lies a substantial 18th century walled garden. This was, for many years, the kitchen garden for the house, until abandoned in the 20th century, it became a garden centre. From this dire state, the garden has been rescued by Skye Hopetoun who started work in 2008 and has, in a remarkably short space of time, created a wonderful garden in a very naturalistic style. Within the apple-clad walls, the garden is laid out semi-formally with walks of pleached limes and Irish yews leading to hedged enclosures each bursting with low-maintenance perennials exploding in exuberant drifts of pink, purples and blues among grasses which extend the season of the garden well into the autumn.

Broadwoodside, Gifford
Anna and Robert Dalrymple

Broadwoodside Tour 20

Broadwoodside Tour 20

Broadwoodside is a garden of great style, wit and considerable charm, laid out around a farm steading which was derelict when the Dalrymples bought it in 1997. The results of the restoration are two enclosed courtyards. In the lower, grass panels surround a large copper planted with lilies and pelargoniums. The perimeter planting is a froth of Alchemilla, Alliums, Euphorbia and a ‘Thug Bed’ of Eupatorium, Japanese anemones and Macleaya. The upper courtyard is more structured with eight Norway maples each differently under-planted in a chequer-board of grass and cobbled squares, around a central iroko aviary which contains the ninth maple. Around the edges of the courtyard there are drifts of Valerian, Astrantia and Solomon’s Seal. The garden escapes from these enclosures to surround the steading, with a walled vegetable and cutting garden with a canal-shaped pond, a topiary walk and orchard. This is a garden, with planting that is far more interesting than the Dalrymples will admit, with a wonderful structure of hedges and sculpture light-heartedly reminiscent of Little Sparta, the whole quite beautifully and enviably maintained.

Bowerhouse, Dunbar
Mr and Mrs Mark Tyndall

Bowerhouse was built by David Bryce in 1835 (he was also the architect of Portmore), who was the pre-eminent Scottish architect of his day and the inventor of the Scottish Baronial Style. The house is only about one and a half miles from the sea so the mild conditions allow an enviable range of half-hardy plants to be grown. Two enclosed gardens lie directly behind the house, the greenhouse garden has box-hedged beds planted with tulips in the spring, followed by perennials and roses in the summer.

A large Euphorbia x pasteurii ‘Phrampton Phatty’ enjoys the shelter of the south -facing wall of the house as, further on, does a spectacular Magnolia grandiflora, which reaches almost to the eaves. A number of ancient yews have been cleared in recent years to allow light into the Thorn Garden, newly planted, largely, with roses. Formal perennial borders, with roses trained on wooden obelisks, frame the entrance to the new formal pond garden. A pair of Clerodendron trichotomum flank the steps down to the pond beyond which an avenue of Sorbus aria ‘Magnifica’ lead the eye to gates set in the surrounding yew hedges.