The garden gate was open at The Island on the last weekend in August. Situated on the River Test near Romsey in Hampshire, it was the second of two consecutive days of opening and the sunny weather attracted plenty of visitors.
It really is an island and in order to gain access we crossed a footbridge over a good sized tributary,
where plenty of trout swam in the sunlit water flowing beneath.
Through the branches of a large cedar cedrus atlantica Glauca, the neatly-mown lawn sweeps down to the River Test,
where the gin-clear water flows by. Just for a moment try to imagine that soothing sound.
A small stream diverts into the garden where a visitor sets up an easel for an afternoon of painting.
The garden is sheltered by a wall that runs along the back of the property parallel with the tributary. The lavender is over but the air is filled with the scent.
The wall is home to many a climber and this sweet pea is looking as fresh as it might in the month of June.
Old espaliered pears laden with fruit grow in the border along the path,
and a long rose tunnel runs in a southerly direction from wall to river.
Herbaceous borders are set in the lawn,
angled and shaped they are rich with autumn colour.
Angel’s trumpets, brugmansia dangle over rudbeckia and asters
There are annuals too, and nasturtiums cover the ground.
In the centre of a circular bed amongst the black grass ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, I spy three ceramic poppies from the Tower of London’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas. That makes eleven poppies I have found on my travels so now where are the remaining 888,235?
The lawns are extensive and this is the professional mechanical team, cleaned and oiled, which provides that smooth sward.
At the end of the garden the river takes a sweeping bend, this marks the westerly boundary where over to the right is a Trout Farm.
Here too in this peaceful spot is the perfect place for a privy. Neatly bricked and tiled, it is not open today.
This part of the garden with its well established shrubs and trees is about three acres, and before returning to the main lawn in front of the house we turn to the right,
and step over the bridge which spans The Test.
Across the river is an arboretum planted by Harold Hillier in the 1930s; many of the original species remain and have grown to a substantial size. Varieties of ornamental trees include prunus, pyrus and malus planted to provide colour in the spring and liquidambar, acer and fagus for autumn tints. An assortment of shrubs bring interest throughout the summer months.
The warning is not heeded today for it is the entrance to an avenue,
a more recent planting of dawn redwood metasequoia glyptostroboides that lines up with the house on the opposite side of the water and culminates in the noblest of trees the Wellingtonia, sequoidendron giganteum. The drifts of daffodils must be quite a sight in the Spring.
There are also three ponds over here, one is in need of restoration, whilst water lilies happily grow in another,
and in addition a swamp cypress taxodium distichum graces a small island.
The sound of rushing water can be heard from the weir.
We move along to the gentler water in front of the house where visitors all afternoon have enjoyed this serene and most calming of spaces.
Returning over the wisteria clad bridge you can imagine the reward you might have with rod in hand and the flick of a fly.
We have wandered too long and missed the teas so we admire the gypsy caravan sheltering in the shade of the cedar on the lawn by the house.
The shadows are lenghtening in the evening sun but the colours remain bright and welcoming.
In its sixth year of opening for the NGS this garden contains some lovely features and set in beautiful timeless setting, it is the fishermen’s dream garden. Open for the NGS twice a year, this very private and secluded garden definitely requires a return visit in the Spring.