Emma Bridgewater of Bridgewater Potteries writes in the NGS book…
‘one of England’s most extraordinary gardens… stylish and inspiring…’
The Garden is very much an experimental testing ground for ideas for Julian and Isabel. They do the work themselves with dedicated and various part time helpers. It is therefore constantly changing, whether a plantsman or a casual gardener the visitor should find plenty to inspire and enjoy.
Penelope Hobhouse writes…
‘Your garden is truly wonderful…you should open it…..’
- Enclosed Garden
- Walnut Tree and Orchard
- Meadow and Parkland
- Woodland Garden
- Neptune’s Dancing Crown
- Tea Garden and Kitchen Garden
The formal part of the garden lies directly outside the main ‘L’ of the house. A flat ‘bowling’ lawn stretches away toward the distant view south across the River Avon to Somerset. To the left yew topiary leads to a long walk, with sentinel yews and borders both sides, which terminates in a wrought iron 18th century gate we call ‘the golden gate’ – which offers a view beyond to the enormous Walnut Tree.
The borders of this walk have spring flowers, roses and tree peonies and most dazzlingly Delphiniums.
After the June show we are developing a hot follow on with heleniums, helianthus, crocosmia, dahlias, and nasturtiums, all in dramatic flames, caramelized oranges, shocking pink, tyrean purple, and genovese velvet maroon with luck.
On the right hand side of this border under a deep puffy yew tree is a wooden gate through which one passes into the gloom and out into the Box garden – a strictly formal concoction of raised beds using green oak for seats and obelisks and clipped box, pots, water trough gurgling and lilies, agapanthus and heliotrope following a spring bedding of rich tulips.
Between here and the house the gravel is planted with yew balls masses of Iris pallida and Euphorbia wulfenii a sort of abstract gravel garden.
Through the ‘Ruined Archway’ is the formal Pool Garden – a bath of scent in high summer with shrub roses, lilies, peonies, stocks, nicotiana, magnolias,geraniums and scented pelagoniums, rosemary, figs, and medlar trees all kept trim by neat box edging.
This leads down to the end of the ‘bastion’ where there are massed eryngium giganteum “Miss Wilmott’s Ghost” ( she was a great friend of Cannon Ellacombe ) and various cistus growing in gravel around a massive stone table. Here the borders and beds become different in feel, more airy, with hesperis, knautia, salvias, echinaceas, matthiasella, selinum wallichianum and other unbellifers, rosa moyesii, species peonies, campanulas, caryopteris…
Walking back up the lawn towards the house the path is edged by a bed of dianthus, alliums, Rose de Rescht, Tree Peonies and matthiola or sweet scented stocks.
The lower border on the other side of the Lawn, which gets called the ‘Long Walk’ takes one to the Oak Obelisk Gate and is bordered by similar scented lusciousness including wigwams of sweet peas.
The Walnut Tree and the Orchard
This slope is made from the last of the Cotswold limestone and here the Walnut Tree spreads eighty foot across and in spring the shadow of it is be-jewelled with snowdrops, primroses and aconites, followed by snakeshead fritillaries and cowslips, then pheasant eye narcissi and then cow parsley the end of which spells the time to mow. The orchard has wild flowers such as primroses and cowslips, saw-wort, st john’s wort, field vetch, lady’s bedstraw and much more. The Norfolk Horn sheep have been here for nearly ten years and are kept just to mow the orchard because it is so steep. The Apples were mostly planted 15 years ago and are all old varieties on large root stock so that they will grow into big trees.
Meadow and Parkland
At the top of the Orchard is a lambing shed from which there is a tremendous view to the West and Dundry. Walking past this and through the gate out into the ‘downland’ meadow where there are great views from this high point raking down to the river Avon below and to Keynsham, all round to the Hanham Hills behind the house to the north. Here we hope one day to build some kind of oak temple as both an eye-catcher and a place to go.
The Dell is a small valley or vale to the west and below the raised and seemingly fortified formal garden of the house. It is intended to be not so much ‘gardened’ as intensified natural woodland, although it does get a bit exotic in places.
Brought to life by the stream which flows through it, popping up in pools and disappearing here and there in a system of culverts. Every year Julian spreads his snowdrops, digging and delving throughout February and March to split the clumps of Galanthas nivalis that were already here in thousands and plant each separately to form tens of thousands.
As spring brightens the corylopsis, erythroniums, catkins new fern fronds and primroses shine forth. After the equinox patiently planted magnolias are beginning to reward us with their flocks of flowers, smaller flowering varieties like myriad butterflies, and giant flowered varieties sitting on branches like parakeets. We have concentrated on the later flowering ‘Jury’ and ‘Gresham’ hybrids, in order to get magnificent flowers with less danger from the frost. The rare yellow flowering ones such as ‘Yellowbird’ and ‘Elizabeth’ are here along with awesome ‘Atlas‘, ‘Milkyway’, ‘Star Wars’ and many others.
A host of wild flowers such as honesty and solomon’s seal, gunnera bursting forth, viburnums, violets, comfry and campion, accompany lilac, philadelphus, new fern fronds by the thousand, scented azaleas, and slowly as the canopy of leaves forms a roof over this cathedral the tree ferns put on their magnificent new plumage (we hope) and it settles down into the cool green place it is in summer.
STUMPERY AND DANCING CROWN FOUNTAIN
A cast iron figure of Neptune resides at the top of the woodland dell between two multi-stemmed Lime Trees. The water from the stream crashes out at his feet, especially in winter, and falls into a pool below. Around all this is a Stumpery such as the one we made at Highgrove for the Prince of Wales, with sweet chestnut stumps and ferns and holey stone. The whole mood is meant to be very mossy and cool. But to lift the spirits having seen all the delights of the garden, every hour the Golden Crown will magically rise up upon a jet of water – a Renaissance water joke which seemingly never fails to make people smile if not laugh out loud.
LOGGIA and KITCHEN GARDEN
This is the working area of the garden. The Kitchen Garden yard and Green house area are not open to the public but viewable.