|The Italian terrace at Tylney Hall, Hampshire, designed by two Scottish architects at the turn of the 20th century|
Tylney Hall in Hampshire has a wonderful Gertrude Jekyll water garden which is currently being brought back to life by hotel group, Elite, which operates the Grade II listed house as one of its flagship properties. Original seat of the Tylney family, the property has variously served as a private house, a World War I hospital, a school and now as a luxury hotel. It enjoys a wonderful hilltop position near Hook in Hampshire, and opens for the National Garden Scheme three times a year. If you're reading this, you've already missed two of this year's openings, but anybody can visit this garden if they have lunch, tea or cocktails at the hotel.
|Wonderful springtime vistas from the terrace at Tylney Hall overlooking the Italian garden and lake|
The house is set in 66 acres of Grade II listed parkland, which includes a large woodland area and many specimen trees, plus a fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas currently in bloom, which the current owners are committed to replenishing, replanting and extending. The work is to be done in two stages over the next five years, with the planting of new inner and outer azalea circles in the parkland adjacent to the house. Work is already progressing well, with many new species already in place and flowering for the first time this year. Elsewhere in the grounds there are spectacular mature rhododendrons, providing a blaze of colour in springtime.
|Part of the charm of the garden at Tylney Hall is the wonderful vistas and mature trees|
There was a house here as early as 1700, but the red-brick edifice that stands there today was designed in 1900 by Scottish architect Seldon Wornum for Sir Lionel Phillips, a South African diamond merchant. Phillips also employed Robert Wier Schultz to further develop the property and gardens. Schultz added the impressive walled kitchen garden that survives today, complete with the orangery and outbuildings that now provide the charming garden rooms for the hotel. But his greatest feat was to enlist Gertrude Jekyll's help in planning the water garden.
|The renovated walled garden, which now provides luxury accommodation for hotel guests|
Schultz was savvy enough to recognise Jekyll's talents and growing reputation as a garden designer and enlisted her help to draw up plans and planting lists for the borders that once graced this garden and the water garden. But the great lady of English gardening never actually visited the property and it was Schultz who oversaw the planting. Yet the glory of this garden was short lived, because World War I saw it used as a hospital and at the end of World War II it became a school. The Italian garden was turned into a hard tennis court and the water garden became overgrown.
|The pergola in the walled garden at Tylney|
The ponds became clogged and statuary was damaged during the harsh post-war years when Tylney served as a school. Years of austerity and a change of usage meant that irreparable damage was done to the gardens and it was only when the property was bought in 1985 that new life was breathed into what had become a forgotten Grade II listed house and garden. The current owners are committed to restoring the garden to its former glory and under the stewardship of Estate Manager and Head Gardener, Paul Tattersdill, new life is being breathed into this wonderful garden. His next major project is to restore the borders to their former glory.
|The Gertrude Jekyll water garden at Tylney is spectacular in May and June|
Paul Tattersdill joined the team here in 1986 when the hotel opened. He works with a team of five other gardeners and although work is ongoing, he has restored the gardens to their former glory. The kitchen garden is immaculate, the Italian garden is dramatic, the water garden is enchanting and the parkland looks healthy again, with its great sweeping lawns, clean lakes and healthy woodland areas. This really is a wonderful garden and well worth making the effort to see. Combine it with nearby West Green House if you want to spend a whole day looking at gardens ... you won't be disappointed!
|Tylney Hall, which has variously served as private house, hospital, school and hotel during its lifetime|