I was very fortunate to be able to stay with Richard and Cary Goode at Rhodds Farm in Herefordshire. They have lived there since 2004 when they renovated the house and converted the farm buildings. Cary studied garden design some years earlier at the English Gardening School and has been responsible for creating this beautiful garden.
A shepherd hut with its own little garden is situated half-way down the long drive, with door wide open it is a welcoming sight.
The trees and shrubs growing along the drive provide interest throughout the year and right now it is the different varieties of Cornus kousa that catch your eye.
We arrive at the east side of the house where house guests park; the cars are cleverly screened by a hedge. Visitors to the garden drive on passing the pretty border on the right which bends into the woodland. There is a colourful display of pinks, blues and whites blending into the shrubs and trees rising behind.
The door of the telephone box appears to be pushed open by a large fern.
Waking in the early morning I decided to walk around the garden before my fellow guests arose for breakfast. Entering through the pergola and wooden shelter in the same way as a visitor would on an NGS open day I notice the honesty box ready for the entry fee. Rural Herefordshire is a trusting place and Cary also leaves out home-made cake for visitors to help themselves.
Just here the garden is particularly narrow but with no noticeable boundaries the view across the fields to the distant mountains more than makes up for it.
I began my tour by going down the steps ahead and turning right in the directio away from the house,
and headed for the newly planted arboretum where a wide mown path leads down to the duck pond from this huge slice of tree-trunk.
The birdsong is quite magnificent but there is no sign of any waterfowl this morning.
A willowy figure is enjoying the serenity.
Coming to the end of the property I turn to climb the path up into the woods, and come across this lady, her almond shaped face carved in stone is bewitching and I wonder if her origins were ecclesiastical.
My walk through the 13 acre wood brings me back to just above the house. Gently descending I come across a clearing, an arrangement of small headstones in a semi circle of yew. It is the pet cemetery and old favourites such as Tara, Ella and Amba are all here.
Dear Tulip, a wire-haired dachshund is resting under the cherry tree.
Descending what is known as ‘The Stairway to Heaven’ through scented shrubs I return to the entrance gate where I began my tour, but this time I turn left towards the house, first walking through the wildflower meadow.
The gravel path leads through the vegetable garden, the only area to be fenced from rabbits and where some plants are offered for sale.
Straight on down through the gate,
the route is criss-crossed by richly planted horizontal paths. Which ever way you look plants either spill over,
or climb up over arches.
The pond, originally a bog before it was dug out and lined with puddle clay, lies on the south side in front of the converted Barn. It is here that you can stay and take a secluded break (http://www.rhoddsfarm.co.uk/barn.html).
All the rainwater drains into the pond, a wildlife haven where roses bend down to the water, and the bright primulas are amongst the many flowers growing along the edge.
Across to the other side of the pond there is an the array of flower beds packed with an assortment of enviable plants. Cary has ideas to simplify this area and I wonder if I should return when she does so. Beyond you can just glimpse the pyramid shape of the stone folly built by Anthony Mills in 2008.
I try to capture the stone sculpture and while the bough of the rose elegantly frames the view I manage however to block the stone sculpture with the bud in the centre!
As I move around the pond, the house and tower come into view.
On the box-edged lawn in front of the house stands the sculpture ‘Sea Circle’ by Charlotte Meyer just visible in the stipa gigantea that surrounds it.
A path runs along the side the lawn; it is flanked by herbaceous borders punctuated with balls of phillyrea angustifolia sitting upon soft green cushions of hakonechloa macra.
It is the combination of planting, purple, red and green which is such a delight.
The dovecote was built in 2007 with the diamond brickwork echoing the same patterns as the barn.
From inside you can look out one way, south to the formal diamond shaped pool and distant tree,
or the other way, north towards the stone dog. It is an enclosed area where Alchemilla mollis surrounds beds of Iris sibirica ‘Silver Edge’.
It is a striking blue and you really can see the silver edge.
Ornamental pear pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ grows down the sides, effectively interplanted with miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and anenome hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’. You cannot see from here but a path crosses the end,
taking guests from their parked cars up to the front door,
under the watchful eye of the massive Italian Great Dane.
Rhodds farm is very generous with its opening days and was open on 5th and 6th May, and 2nd and 3rd June. It will be open again on Friday 7 July, Saturday 8 July, Friday 4 August, and Saturday 5 August (11am – 5pm). Admission £5.00, children free, and I highly recommend a visit. Tea and cake will be available for guests to help themselves in return for a donation.