callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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The Best Garden

Yesterday, I took my visitor to see my favourite garden, at Cranborne Manor.

1. I’ve always had a thing about the seventeenth century.
2. It’s been in the same family since it was built and no nineteenth century lunatic said, ‘The old place is rather out of date. Let’s pull it down, build a mansion and flatten and landscape the grounds.’ Phew!
3. This means it’s small by country house standards and retains its original features and the feel of domestic architecture. Here’s the entrance porch:

Nothing grand, everything charming. The blue pots on the shelves are filled with 'White Unique’ pelargoniums.

The grounds were originally laid out by John Tradescant and there are many of his plant introductions in the garden, like, naturally, Tradescantia:

As a visitor, you never see the extent of the gardens because of the many divisions made by old walls and yew hedges. Greenery everywhere

and one whole area planted entirely in green and white. When you have this much space, you can afford to plant masses of plants of one colour or species. Here’s Church Walk, currently stunningly blue with delphiniums and humble lobelia. There’s a mass of bedded out tobacco plants for later; in spring it would have been a feast of tulips and wallflowers.

Another walk is devoted to iris, now over and lilies, splendidly out.

There are roses everywhere: roses climbing and tumbling over walls, roses in trees, roses on swags and a wonderful selection to buy. This is the best place I know to buy old roses. Round the back of the house you can see log piles

And chicken houses (this one’s for land_girl)

The chickens may not live here; they were sheltering under shrubs near a more modern-looking run. There’s an enormous and wonderful kitchen garden and wildflower meadows. Agricultural land all around and through the gates you catch glimpses of Charolais cattle and free range Tamworth pigs; also a large bronze head by Elizabeth Frink.

In short, I wouldn’t give you tuppence for any National Trust garden, including Sissinghurst, compared with this secret, uncrowded, privately owned and loved, totally English glimpse of paradise.

Tags: cranborne manor, dorset, gardens, john tradescant
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