Tour 13. Northumberland – Wednesday 10 July

Mildrum House

Mindrum House and Kirky Cottage, Mindrum
Mr and Mrs Tom Fairfax, Mrs Ginny Fairfax

The garden at Mindrum is a family affair. The 1830s house, which stands on a bluff above the Bowmont Water, was bought in 1927 by a hydro-electric engineer, whose wife acquired a rock garden from the Chelsea Flower Show which was subsequently buried and planted with Scots Pines in the 1940s. In 1955 Peregrine Fairfax acquired the house and began, with his wife Ginny, to replant the garden and reclaim the rock garden. Today Mindrum, in the hands of Tom and Miki Fairfax, is a romantic mixture of old roses and perennials surrounding open lawns by the house descending through specimen trees and shrubs to the river walks below. Ginny has created a new and very different garden around her new house nearby. The planting, remarkably established, is more cottagey, with lots of gravel planting and on a scale that is far less daunting than the garden she has left at the big house.

Hetton House, Wooler
Mr and Mrs John Lovett

Jane Lovett moved into John’s family home and set about creating a garden. The house was remodelled in the 18th century with a later kitchen wing, which opens onto a square terrace. This has pots filled with Plectranthus and surrounding borders filled with roses, Salvias, Perovskia, Dahlias and other perennials and annuals designed to look good all summer. Outside the 18th century house is a white border, with Romneya, Iceberg roses, white Delphiums, Ammi and Cosmos. A vista runs through a yew-hedged square garden, the entrance guarded by a pair of Malus transitoria. There is a new Spring Garden here, including Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ and Pulmonaria centred on a Cornus. The greenhouse and tennis court are separated by a border of globe artichokes, under-planted with tulips. Jane is a renowned professional cook and so I am delighted that she has agreed to give us lunch.

Lilburn Tower
Mr and Mrs Duncan Davidson

Lilburn Tower
Lilburn Tower was built in 1828 to succeed a 15th century pele tower. The house stands on high ground with views over the rolling hills of north Northumberland. The garden was laid out in a series of terraces descending to the kitchen gardens below. The Dutch garden is partly roses and peonies in box beds and partly carpets of thyme and sage surrounding a stone well head, a recent redesign by Head Gardener, David Sinclair. Below an orchard lies a long border, planted to peak in July and August. The spectacular glass house is filled with flowers for the house, with a central section of tender exotics including Abutilons, Brugmansia and Tibouchina. Peaches are grown in one semi–circular bay, balanced by another housing David’s award-winning Muscat vine. To the west of the house is the woodland garden, where Sarah Davidson has created an informal pond garden, accessed by a Wisteria covered bridge.