You may have been watching the programme ‘ All Gardens Great and Small’ on Channel 4More, in which Miranda Hart and her real mother Dee Hart-Dyke visit some NGS gardens up and down the country. Dee’s garden in Hampshire was open last Monday so for a Bank Holiday treat I went to visit.
The weather was glorious and we arrived in good time for the opening but the garden gate remained firmly closed until 2pm.
Entering from the street through a little side door in the wall we find ourselves in the driveway where pure white Japanese anemones greeted us under what Dee might describe as ‘rampant’ wisteria.
I happened to meet Dee while she was filming in two of the gardens in London (blogs 34 & 35), in fact she even interviewed me. Fun as it was I have to report that my nano second of an appearance on a television series has ended up on the cutting-room floor. However I was thrilled that through the throng of visitors and surrounded by giggling grandchildren she recognised me and I was even more delighted to discover that she is an ardent follower of this blog.
It looked as if it was going to be a busy afternoon with visitors pouring in, so we pressed on through a small enclosed area of lawn where tables and chairs were set out ready to provide tea and cake to the already swarming numbers, and we hurried on through the archway in the wall.
A picture of colour and the feel of an English country garden draws us through the arch and round the side of the house.
Amongst the plentiful perennials and shrubs I spy a little clump of the dainty autumn snowflake acis autumnalis, looking perhaps a little premature on this hot summer’s day.
On the south side in front of the house, the lawn stretches ahead and rises up hill; in the centre are two sets of brick steps. We stay on the grass and follow the border along the west side where we can look across to mixed flower beds on the other side.
The border, backed by a wall that runs along the road, is packed with a variety of shrubs which give interest throughout the year; the slightly unusual heptacodium miconioides, is performing for us today.
At the top of the lawn a narrow path winds around the back of bushes and the small starry eyes of aster divaricatus spread over the brick weave, a good plant for the shade.
Overhead the leaves of the paulownia tomentosa loom large and verdant against the bright sun.
A quiet place to pause in the shade, this bench today will not remain unoccupied for long.
The garden covers about three acres in size and is divided into a variety of areas. A fine specimen of Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’, the wedding cake tree marks the beginning of the central area,
an orchard where paths are mown through the long grass under trees both young and old.
Through the branches of a Judas tree, cercis siliquastrum we can see the swimming pool; today visitors are content to sit and imagine they have dipped in the cool water.
Beyond the pool the gate is open into the recently cut field.
It is quite a vista over neighbouring roof tops towards the church. We explored the village this morning and it is really attractive with some beautiful houses.
This garden certainly is not flat; a stairway descends to the lower level and you can glide down in Hollywood style through the mature shrubs.
Tucked away at the bottom of the garden, is the perfect artist’s studio.
Returning now towards the house we pass a white clematis backed by wooden trellis which leads us to the kitchen garden.
Divided into four with an elegant vase at its centre, it is not only productive with vegetables, fruit and flowers,
but also has a strip of wildflowers along its edge.
I am reminded that the old galvanised steel tub is so much more visually pleasing than the hard plastic water butts we have become accustomed to nowadays.
We slip through the yew hedge, a view we recognise from Dee’s television programme where she is filmed wheeling her barrow through the gap. Back on the tea lawn we find the tea queue has quadrupled in length.
So, passing again by the side of the house we turn left up the steps, through a heady collection of salvia, grasses, roses and rosemary,
and walk through the curiously wonky yew arch,
and follow the brick weave path amongst borders spilling over with late summer colour.
A handsome bush of Clerodendron fargesii is enjoying the sun and some visitors are intrigued to discover its identity.
Colour combinations combine with texture and form to make a pretty garden. We have enjoyed our visit in this very private place, planted for pleasure, and enjoyed by a family, it has evolved through time, and is the very essence of an NGS garden opening for just one afternoon.
Last night we stayed with friends nearby and on leaving this morning it was apparent that although they had heard of the NGS, they had no idea of the scale of funds raised. It was not the time to run through the beneficiaries, so I will take this opportunity to remind you where the money goes:
You may have missed the opening this year but you can watch Miranda and Mum on Monday evening at 9pm on Channel 4More where you will see glimpses of this garden and discover the fun of visiting gardens.