Friday, 19 November 2010

An Apology and Memories of a June Visit to The Garden House.

The Long Walk, The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Devon.

My dear friends, thank you so much for all your kind messages I have been quite touched by all your well wishes and support. I really must apologise for the distinct lack of posts over the last few months. Sadly unlike the flowers I love so much I have not "bloomed" this summer with pregnancy but succumbed to every ailment going. However I am very happy to say that I am now nearly seven months pregnant and very much looking forward to the arrival of my son in February. Unfortunately the morning sickness never went away and I am still a miserable vomiting wretch! My little munchkin on the other hand is growing strong and regular hospital visits keep me reassured that all is at least well with him, even if I feel rotten. I have felt so zapped of energy that I have struggled to keep up with my usual joys and so my blogging and photography have come to a standstill at the moment. I do not intend to keep it this way, although for the next few months I fear I will not have the zeal for it with my ever increasing bump causing havoc for me!

Stipa gigantea

I have rustled together some images from my visit to The Garden House in Devon way back in early June of this year when I merrily plodded around several Devon gardens blissfully unaware that my life was about to change forever!

 The Long Walk
The Garden House, a Georgian mansion built in the 1830's was the replacement for a medieval vicarage used by the vicars of the nearby village of Buckland Monachorum. In the 1940's Lionel and Katherine Fortescue bought the house and founded the garden that exists today. Lionel, a master at Eton was keen plantsman and grew a wide range of plants in the garden including many Rhododendron hybrids.

The Cottage Garden

My main interest in the garden here was not with the Fortiscues early work but with that of Keith Wiley. Keith Wiley was appointed as head gardener by Lionel in 1978. With their blessing he undertook an expansion of the garden onto six acres of adjacent land. Over a period of ten years Keith sculpted the landscape and planted it with his own unusual style known as "New Naturalism." The results were truly spectacular. Wiley has a magical way of creating earthworks densely planted with trees, shrubs and perennials which looks as if they have always existed there, even if they are in fact highly unusual combinations.

The Cottage Garden

I understand that in 2003 Keith Wiley and his wife Ros who had poured their life's work into The Garden House over a 25 year period were made to leave by the The Fortescue Garden Trust who had taken over the ownership of the garden after the death of the Fortiscues in the 1980's. Whilst there is now a new and very talented head gardener at The Garden House it is undoubtedly Keith's extensions of the garden that hold all the magic. I found his work truly inspirational and whilst I am not a trained gardener myself I will be so bold as to say that I think this man is a genius. The way he has crafted the landscape into a seemingly wild floral heaven has to be seen to be believed.

The Cottage Garden

Keith and his wife Ros have managed to buy a small plot of land just a mile away from The Garden House. He has begun work there on a new garden, The Wildside. I did of course visit The Wildside and will share my visit with you in a later post. I shall not ramble on much more about The Garden House but let you see the photos for yourself. As I have previously confessed the images are biased towards the areas created by Keith such as The Long Walk, The South African Garden, The Quarry Garden The Cottage Garden and The Wild Flower Meadow as these for me are the most exciting.

The Cottage Garden

The Cottage Garden

The Cottage Garden with view of St Andrews church, Buckland Monachorum.

The Cottage Garden

  The Cottage Garden

The Cottage Garden

The Magic Circle

The Cottage Garden

The South African Garden

The South African Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Wild Flower Meadow

The Wild Flower Meadow

The Ovals Garden.

The Ovals Garden was an interesting area for me. It stood out in stark contrast from the wilder parts of the garden. It was designed in 1992 by Keith Wiley as a way of improving links between the different terraces in the older part of the garden. I found it quite visually intriguing and the little summer house/ hut at the top called to me to go and sit in it and look out over the garden below. What I did not like about it was the planting which consisted entirely of Ophiopogon. I puzzled for some time as to why such a dull and uninspiring plant dominated the area. It was not until I got home and read my little guide book that I found the answer. This was in fact not the original planting but a recent introduction. The garden had originally been planted with shade loving plants including a 'river' of blue Corydalis. I must confess that I would have much rather seen the river of blue Corydalis!

I really must thank Anna and VP who both urged me to find out more about Keith Wiley when I asked earlier this year which gardens I should visit. Visiting his gardens was a wonderful treat and I am delighted to have discovered such an innovative and intriguing gardener.

Remains of the tower belonging to the old medieval vicarage.

The Bottom Terrace of the old garden.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

This summer I have mostly been growing...

 Gloriosa rothschildiana

This summer I have been growing a few new things. My favourite has to be the Gloriosa rothschildiana. It is a rather unusual climbing member of the lily family, native to South Africa. Earlier in the year I was delighted to spot a tuber for sale in the local garden centre, I quickly snapped it up and took it home. I planted the tuber about three inches deep in a pot and gave it pride of place on the windowsil. We have watched with great delight as each glossy green leaf shot up with intricate curled tendils at every tip, then as clusters of buds appeared and exquisite flowers started to unfurl to form bright and exotic flowers of red and yellow.

The other new thing I have been growing this summer is...... a baby!!! Yes it was with great joy earlier this summer that I discovered that I am expecting my first child. Sadly I have been plagued with horrendous morning (noon and night) sickness and severe fatigue which has meant that I have had no energy for blogging. So many apologies to my regular followers for the lack of blog posts over the last month or so. I hope very much to be feeling better soon (fingers crossed) but I'm afraid posts may be a little sporadic for the next few months.

  A new shoot!

RO xxx

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Stone House

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting a rather delightful Cotswold garden with The Galloping Gardener. The Stone House is a 2 1/2 acre privately owned garden on heavy acid clay. It is located in the small and very picturesque village of Wyck Rissington, Nr. Bourton on the Water, Cheltenham.

 View of main lawn with herbaceous borders.

The garden is open all year round by appointment. It was a real treat to have the garden to ourselves when we visited. We were able to explore at leisure without being disturbed by other visitors which made for an incredibly peaceful rather indulgent afternoon.


The lawn area was surrounded by several herbaceous borders packed with an array of interesting plants and shrubs. It soon became clear as I began to explore the garden that a great deal of care had gone into not only the design and care of the garden but also in the choice of plants. This was the garden of an enthusiastic plantsperson.

 View of main lawn with herbaceous borders.

 Rudbekia occidentalis "Green Wizard"

Stone arch leading to the pool area.


The garden was made up of a number of rooms, each with delightful details of stonework, paths, sculptures and urns. Alchemilla mollis frothed out all over the garden spilling from borders and stonework steps. Beautiful shrubs such as buddleja alternifolia kept the bees and butterflies busy and recognising all the delicious perennials such as Silene fimbriata kept me occupied.

Dog sculpture


Swimming pool

The pool was immensely appealing, carefully concealed behind walls and trellis work covered in roses and clematis. On that hot afternoon the cool blue waters seemed to be calling to me. What a wonderful spot to relax in!

Cobbled path leading to paddocks.

I adored this pathway leading to a gate to the paddocks. It had beautiful decorative cobblestones with detail of rabbits hopping along the path. On either side of the path box cubes provided an interesting focal point with roses, hostas and alliums planted in between them. 

Detail of a rabbit from the cobbled path.

 Blue and white campanulas.

Summer house.

Chickens in the paddock.

Meadow walk.

Every which way you turn in this garden there are little details and features that catch your eye. The garden was alive with wildlife too. Birds bashing snails against the stonework, dragonflies darting about, and baby frogs lounging in the sun around the pond side all made me smile when I spotted them.

 Seat near paddock.

Peony with Alchemilla mollis.


Gillenia trifoliata


Urn with bergenia.


Shade garden next to stream.

At the back of the house was a small stream and shady gravelled walk. A sculpture of Medusa spouts water into a small pool and array of architectural plants create a very calm, shady retreat from the hot afternoons sun.

Lonicera brownii "Dropmore Scarlet".

Path leading to house with box pyramids.

 Pink wisteria.

The Stone House is an exceptionally pretty garden crammed full of unusual plants and detailed features. It is without doubt worth a visit if you enjoy plants and country gardens. It is a garden that is much loved which really comes across as you make your journey around it. I for one am very pleased to have found it. It made for a very enjoyable afternoon in contrast to some of the larger very busy tourist packed Cotswold gardens.

 Cytisus battandieri