Tour 4. Berkshire – Wednesday 19 June

Hatch House Farm, West Woodhay
Pierre Lagrange Esq

It is remarkable how many very good gardens have been created in the patch of ground between Newbury and Hungerford, sheltered by the North Wessex Downs and watered by the River Kennet. Hatch House Farm, designed in the last few years by Tom Stuart-Smith, is not the least of these. The garden around the brick 18th century farmhouse was almost non-existent and the brief was to create a garden that looked good in winter and related to the surrounding landscape. The main focus is the old farmyard and here a rectangular garden was created to link the house and outbuildings. New walls, box hedges and cobbled paths give structure to the dense planting of perennials and grasses. On the south side of the house a stone terrace surrounded by, amongst much else, Rosa chinensis ‘Mutablis’, Perovskia, rosemary and Phlomis, gives on to an orchard of crab apples.

Mount Prosperous, Hungerford
Mr and Mrs Roderick Kent

Mount Prosperous, once the home of Jethro Tull, the agriculturalist who invented the seed drill in 1701, has been, for the last 20 years, the home of Rod and Bindy Kent, who have in that time entirely redesigned the garden. The setting, amidst the downs, is superb and the views are enhanced by eye-catchers, an obelisk and a pagoda. The glory of the garden is Bindy’s walled rose garden where box-hedged beds are filled with David Austin roses, which also cover the walls and festoon arches. There is a stylish Italianate swimming pool garden aligned on two Lebanon Cedars, with a pool house inspired by Stourhead. Closer to the house, a pond has been carefully enlarged to reflect very beautiful Japanese maples.

The Old Rectory, Farnborough
Mr and Mrs Michael Todhunter

Caroline Todhunter has been gardening at the Old Rectory for over 50 years. This is one of the prettiest houses in England and was once the home of John Betjeman. The setting on the top of the Berkshire Downs is spectacular and challenging. The mid-18th century house looks south over a wide tree-fringed lawn. To one side of this lawn, yew hedges back generous double borders, leading to a Chinese-style bench designed by Caroline. Paths lead invitingly through the trees to a bouledrome, created out of a redundant tennis court, and an enclosed swimming pool, home to tender shrubs grown against the walls and pots of lilies in profusion. An arboretum, started some 30 years ago, is now impressively mature and includes some wonderful trees. Behind the house, a path from an enclosed garden leads through Abutilons, roses and Philadelphus under-planted with Geraniums.