Glorious spring gardens V - Doddington Place, Kent
|The Sunk Garden at Doddington Place, with hedging that reflects the gables of the main house|
April is a wonderfully theatrical month in terms of weather and yesterday was no exception. Blue skies interspersed with thunderous showers and you never know when you're going to get soaked because the patch of blue that looks like its coming your way suddenly changes direction and the heavens open, so not the easiest month to plan garden visits! Combine that with a garden in Kent which also has theatrical elements and you're guaranteed to have an interesting day.
|Old and new reflected in the Spring Garden, where a modern obelisk sundial designed by David Harber presides|
Doddington Place, with its ten acre garden, wonderful views and extraordinary hedging, which has been likened to mountains, clouds and even gorillas, is certainly filled with theatre! Start with the substantial red-brick Victorian mansion (top), with its many chimneys and gables; add great walls of yew hedge planted by former owner, Mrs Douglas Jefferies, at the turn of the 20th century, which was left to grow during the war and is now clipped just once a year; plus a glorious woodland garden, sunken garden, and rock garden and all you need is the cast to fill the stage. That comes as the season progresses and the garden blooms!
|Folly Walk adjacent to the woodland garden|
The house and garden are set in 850 acres of spectacular countryside and part of the charm of this property is the woodland area to the rear of the house and Folly Walk (above). Some 50 years ago the owners discovered there was deep acid loam in this part of the garden (most unusual for Kent since chalk is the norm), so many older trees were cleared and a vigorous underplanting scheme adopted. I plan to return to see the results in the next few weeks because I'm told the azalea and rhododendron displays are spectacular.
|The Sunk Garden with its immaculately clipped hedges reflecting the design of the Victorian gables behind|
The Sunk Garden (above), adjacent to the house, is currently planted with tulips, but will later be filled with colourful perennials. The hedges here (only planted 16 years ago) are trimmed to reflect the gables of the house behind. And beyond this, there's the Edwardian rockery - another of Mrs Jefferies' projects - which has recently been revamped and restored by the current owners, with the help of their head gardener, Matt Jackson, who previously worked at Scotney Castle and was involved in overhauling the Quarry Garden there.
|The Rock Garden has undergone extensive renovation in the last few years and now has a contemporary feel|
More than five hundred tons of stones have been removed from the rock garden so far and a huge amount of work has gone into replanting, to turn this space into a relaxed contemporary space in place of the rather dated rockery here before. This is all part of an ambitious restoration programme here at Doddington Place, which this year opens its doors on Wednesdays as well as Sundays throughout the season (11.00-17.00). Definitely a garden to visit now and return to as work continues! Combine this with a visit to Goodnestone Park if you're looking for a second garden to visit in the area.