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Showing posts from August, 2013

Goodnestone Park - a modern parterre and a 'borrowed landscape' in Kent

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Goodnestone Park - a fine brick-built Palladian style mansion, built at the turn of the 18th century - sits amid 14 acres of gardens in a quiet corner of Kent.  It's located at the far end of a village bearing the same name as the house (pronounced 'Gunstone') where the local pub - The Fitzwalter Arms - bears the name of the family who've lived here for the last three hundred years. It's hard to tell whether the house is still occupied, although the garden is certainly well loved. The parterre at the front of the property, sits on the lower of two terraces and has a broad flight of steps leading up to the elegant house, originally built by Brook Bridges between 1700 and 1704. The parterre is a recent addition - designed by Charlotte Molesworth - and commissioned to commemorate the millennium. Part of its charm is the simplicity of the design, with its network of gravel paths between the box hedges and simple planting in the enclosures. To the rear of the house are gr…

Titsey Place, Surrey - wondrous walled gardens nestled in heart of North Downs

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Titsey Place nestles in a corner of Surrey, close to some of the most visited gardens in Southern England including Hever Castleand Sissinghurst. It has one of the finest walled gardens in the South-East, a manor house steeped in history and, despite its proximity to the M25 a bucolic setting that is conducive to spending several hours lazing on the grass admiring the views across the Darent valley, or walking in the extensive grounds.  The jewel in the crown here is the walled garden, dating back to Victorian times and open just three afternoons a week from May to September. May sees impressive displays of alliums, followed later by a succession of annuals and perennials which guarantee colour throughout the season, together with fruit and vegetables that will make your mouth water. It was fully restored in 1996 and is now operated using original Victorian methods.
In the greenhouses there are heavily laden tomato plants and a variety of tender fruit, including peaches and nectarines, …

Wordless Wednesday - A walk at Scotney Castle in Kent

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Scotney Castle is open daily at this time of year - well worth a visit,  particularly in the afternoon sunlight.

Coton Manor - a garden for all seasons in the heart of England

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In my first garden foray to Northamptonshire this week, I was able to visit two very different, but highly-prized properties within a stone's throw of each other - Coton Manor and Cottesbrook Hall. But I confess it was more by luck than good judgement that I managed to see both on the same day, because the latter has extremely restricted opening hours and after a serious wrestle with the M1 that was gridlocked for much of the journey, I had chosen the only day of the week that both are open at this time of year - a Thursday. Coton Manor and the land surrounding it, has been nurtured by the same family for nearly a century. The result is a mature garden, with many specimen trees, where successive generations have capitalised on the setting - with fine views over the surrounding countryside - and the architecture of the 17th century stone manor house to provide an interesting backdrop to what is obviously a private garden. And although some 30,000 visitors come here every year, the g…

Helmingham Hall Gardens - a moated paradise in Suffolk

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A late spring, followed by a heat wave in July have done little to dent the charm of the gardens at Helmingham Hall in Suffolk - certainly one of the most impressive moated properties I've visited yet on my travels. The unusual architecture of the 16th century house, still occupied by descendants of John Tollemache - the man who built it - combined with the determined efforts of Lady Xa Tollemache - who has lived here since 1975 - to redesign the 10-acre gardens adjacent to the Hall, ensure that visitors will be delighted by what they find. The handsome house is built of brick and sits at the heart of 400 acres of parkland, where the ancient oak trees were often painted by John Constable, who lived here on the estate. Xa Tollemache knew little about gardening when she arrived at the hall, but is now well established as a garden designer. She won a gold medal at Chelsea in 1997 and since then has completed commissions at stately homes here in the UK, including Wilton House near Sali…

A sneak preview of what's in store this week - Galloping Gardener recommends hot summer gardens

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My galloping has been somewhat curtailed recently due to family commitments, but I'm planning to get back on the road this week and head north towards some of the gardens north of Oxford - weather permitting! Now is the time to enjoy gardens in their blousy summer splendour, as the dahlias begin to bloom, and it's a good reminder that there are still plenty of wonderful gardens to visit at this time of year, even in high summer. I shall also be reviewing some of the lovely properties I visited during the recent heatwave, including Helmingham Hall in Norfolk (close to both Bressingham Gardens and Wyken Hall, which I've recently added to my garden pages), Broughton Castle and various smaller properties that I've had the chance to see. I had a really enjoyable day at Parham House (above), with its magnificent four-acre walled garden, earlier this week, which I'll be reviewing in the next few days. And then, of course, there are all the amazing California gardens waiting…

Garden rooms, old-fashioned roses and fine wine at Wyken Hall in Suffolk

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The charming and unusual four-acre garden surrounding an equally unique half-timbered and gabled manor house - Wyken Hall near Bury St Edmunds - is only a fraction of the flourishing enterprise operated on an ancient estate recorded in the Domesday Book by husband and wife team Sir Kenneth and Lady Carlisle. They also run a successful vineyard, working farm, thriving shop and popular eaterie next to their home in this lovely part of Suffolk. The garden is offset by the striking copper reddish colour of the 16th century house at its heart and the owners have capitalised on the unique hue of their home to enliven the series of garden rooms that surround it. Sir Kenneth equates the unusual colour  to 'Suffolk Pink' which was used in Elizabethan times and has used a traditional limewash method rather than modern masonry paint to decorate the exterior of the hall. The house is not open to the public, but you can wander at leisure in the garden. As you approach the formal gardens surr…