Eastleach House, Eastleach Martin
Mrs David Richards
Stephanie Richards has a wonderful garden. From the terrace on the south side of the house the eye is drawn across a lawn, enclosed by borders and hedges, through lovely wrought-iron gates towards a statue of a stag in the middle of the arboretum silhouetted against the sky and the distant prospect of the Lambourn Downs. To the side of the house, the ground drops away into the valley giving partial views, among the trees, of the twin villages of Eastleach Martin and Eastleach Turville. In the foreground a rill runs amidst colour-themed perennials to a pool contained within a semi-circle of clipped whitebeams. Perhaps the triumph of Eastleach House is the irregularly-shaped walled garden, which has been divided up into beautifully planted spaces with topiary yew hedges, providing tempting views beyond a rose and clematis-covered pergola and a summer house where lesser gardeners than Stephanie would want to linger all day.
Oxleaze Farm, Filkins
Mr and Mrs Charles Mann
Oxleaze Farm is one of those enviable places where gardening seems effortless – at least Chipps Mann manages to give that impression. The burgeoning borders have just the right balance of early and late-flowering shrubs, summer perennials, and box for structure. A series of informal garden rooms leading from the central lawn combine formality and informality and, with a vegetable and cut flower potager, decorative fruit cage, bees in the wildflower meadow, pond and bog garden, results in what Chipps calls a ‘manageable microcosm’. Oxleaze is a wonderfully mellow place with stone walls and stone-roofed farm buildings, one of which, the newly-restored Barn, will be our destination for lunch.
Ablington Manor, Ablington
Mr and Mrs Robert Cooper
The garden at Ablington Manor is exactly what an English garden in June should be. The Elizabethan house stands with its back to the village, guarded by high stone walls and ancient yews. On the garden side, a wide stone terrace planted with Helianthemums gives views across the gin-clear River Coln to an impressive stone pavilion, backed by the hanging woods which enclose the valley. Great puddings of golden yew lead down to the lawn, on one side of which a wide perennial border riots against the wall which conceals an enclosed and sunken rose garden. A bridge across the river and a pergola awash with Paul’s Himalayan Musk lead to the pavilion, from where there is a lovely view back across the river towards the house. The woodland garden on the far side of the drive is a spectacular recent development.