Take a windy hilltop farmhouse in Kent with no garden, a lot of determination and what do you get? A delightful small cottage garden created out of nothing! When John and Jane Gladstone arrived at Old Buckhurst after the Great Storm of 1987, they had a completely blank canvas - there was no garden at all, and faced with the prospect of high winds on a hill top, they realised the task was somewhat daunting.
But they set to work and now, nearly 25 years later, have one of the most enchanting cottage gardens in southern England. Both John and Jane were prepared to work hard on the garden and it's easy to see how their efforts have been rewarded. They open to visitors from April to September, and this is definitely a garden to visit if you're in the area in the next few weeks because it will fill you with inspiration.
Jane was already a keen gardener when she arrived here and realised that the only way to protect their new plot against the elements was to plant an army of hardy hedges and trees on their boundary, to shield them from high winds. But the deeds of the property prohibited them from planting conifers, pines or yew, so they had to choose carefully. And then they started planting inwards, using shrubs and perennials to create the wonderful series of garden rooms that thrive there today.
It's hard to believe that this garden only extends to two acres, because their are so many different areas and you wander from room to room marvelling at the colours, the variety of plants and the wonderful vistas and textures throughout. This garden is nothing short of genius when you consider that there wasn't a single plant here when they arrived.
The garden is on a series of levels, with paths winding through it and right at its heart is a charming walled area and pond (above) that makes you feel you've found a hidden paradise. Jane says she was much influenced by Margery Fish when it came to choosing plants and combinations, but even though she may have drawn on her cottage garden principles, there is little similarity between Old Buckhurst and East Lambrook Manor today. Jane is a talented plantswoman with her own distinctive style!
|Meandering paths wander through the garden rooms at Old Buckhurst|
|Jane Gladstone is a talented plantswoman, who has filled the garden to overflowing|
|At the heart of the garden there is a walled area with a pond - an inner sanctuary|