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January 2019



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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 It’s been in the same family since it was built and no nineteenth century lunatic said, ‘The old place is rather out of date.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.


Beautiful! I wouldn't mind living there. :)

Sissinghurst is National Trust?

Yes, as Ros says, Sissinghurst is National Trust, with that strange arrangement which allows the owners to live there.
It's magical.
Vaut le détour!
Beautiful! You're inspiring me to see all these local places I had forgotten were there! See I must ask you to make me a list! Wonderful weather for your visitor too!
Sadly, the garden at Cranborne only opens once a week, on Wednesdays. The plant centre is open every day, I think. Too hot for my visitor!
Aaaah! That's just too lovely. Do you think they need a tenant for the chicken house as the chooks aren't currently in residence? ;)
Heh! I fancy the gatehouse, myself; no idea if anyone does live there. The house is never open to visitors and I'm scrupulous about not trying to peer through the windows.
Wow. I wnat to see it and when I meet my millionaire he can buy it for me. Except I doubt they'd sell. It looks too loved.
I doubt if the Marquess of Salisbury would give up even one of his seats! It's astonishing how unassuming it all is. Hatfield is another matter, of course, frightfully grand.