Last month, on a deliciously crisp and sunny October morning I went to visit the gardens at Great Chalfield Manor. I knew nothing about them except that they were supposed to be in an "Arts and Crafts" style. The Manor was in quite a remote part of the Wiltshire countryside. My journey took me along narrow tree lined lanes until I was beginning to wonder whether I had taken the wrong road and then suddenly the lane opened out and there was Great Chalfield; an extraordinarily breath taking 15th century manor house with sunshine dancing off its bull rush edged moat.Entrance with Parthenocissus.
After I had admired the quite unexpected beauty of Great Chalfield Manor and its very striking Gothic windows from the front I made my way through an arched gateway dripping with rich red Parthenocissus vines. The Manor sits in a small estate comprising of an active parish church, gardens, woods and farmland. The estate was left to the National Trust in 1943 by Robert Fuller but is still home to his grandson Robert Floyd, his wife Patsy and their family.
The current gardens at Great Chalfield are based on designs drawn up in 1907 by Alfred Parsons. Patsy Fuller is a keen gardener and she has played a significant part in helping to rejuvenate the gardens in recent years. In fact she was out working in the garden with her two dogs keeping her company when I visited.
Topiary yew 'house'.
The Paved Courtyard was one of my favourite spots. Although it was the end of the summer, and the roses were beginning to tire a little, it felt like a special spot. The four beds in the court are planted with the pink flowering polyantha rose "Nathalie Nypels". Self seeded Campanula pyramidalis, wild strawberries and Mexican daisies poke through every available gap in the walls and flagstones and an old rocking chair sits on one side looking out into the courtyard. I fancifully imagined myself sat there on a warm summers evening with the sweet aroma of the roses and a glass of wine.
The Paved Court.
View of one of the yew 'houses' and the church.
One of the borders was spilling over with white Gaura. Amongst it was a pinky orange Potentilla cheekily smiling though the sea of icy white. I really enjoyed the contrast, it was particularly striking even though the border was in shade during my visit.Gaura and Potentilla.
Japanse anenome, Verbena bonariensis and Tithonia rotundifolia.
Another area of the garden that really appealed to me was full of rich oranges and purples. Tithonia rotundifolia with Verbena bonariensis weaving through it, dark leaved smoke bushes, Amaranthus and Dahlias all exuded sumptuous colours.
Painted Lady butterfly of Verbena bonariensis.
Whilst the gardens were not particularly large, there was a lot to see, even in October. Great Chalfield is a garden I will most certainly be returning to if the opportunity arises. It was full of English charm, dew covered roses, quirky topiary and happy insects. I spotted countless ladybirds, butterflies and bees. And all of this was presented with the back drop of some of the most delightful architecture I have seen in years.