The other day a good friend of mine invited me to visit the estate garden in the Surrey Hills where she works as the Head Gardener. The garden itself used to be open to the public through the National Gardens Scheme, but sadly it is now private enjoyed only by its owner and those that are fortunate enough to work there.
A winding driveway leads to a delightful Georgian house to the front of which is a very impressive armillary sphere surrounded by a beautiful clipped box maze-like miniature hedge, which echoes the shapes of the construction of the sphere. More formal box hedging flanks the front door.
The house itself is very attractive nestling in a small valley, its grounds extend upwards behind it before giving way to fields in which are kept the estate sheep. The imposing and very beautiful house dates back to 1710 with the major part of the house being built around 1820. It is partly white stucco rendered and partly bare red brick clothed partly in climbing plants including a lovely white rose and wisteria.
side of house with white roses and wisteria
There are lovely ‘secret’ paths winding their way through borders bursting with colour and huge, healthy looking plants. The front of the old stables is particularly impressive.
secret paths lead to smaller intimate garden areas
To one side of the house adjacent to the driveway is a lovely meadow area filled with long grasses, buttercups, daisies and lupins.
Two bee hives sit quietly in this meadow, gradually being taken over by the wild flower meadow as sadly the bee residents have moved out without leaving a forwarding address.
abandoned bee hives
Walking on up the hill to the back of the house and beyond into the fields the view across the Surrey Hills towards the South Downs is tremendous and on a clear day Chanctonbury Ring is clearly visible some 20 miles away. Returning back down the hillside towards the lovely kitchen garden which is dominated by a fabulous greenhouse with brick-built cold frames, there is another border filled to bursting point, while in the kitchen garden area along one wall are shelves which house an impressive display of Auricula’s, which sadly had finished at the time of my visit.
Dotted round the garden are some quirky and interesting sculptures including a giant wooden apple core, a fantastic weathered bust of the God of Wine Bacchus who sits (fittingly) beneath a vine overlooking the swimming pool,
bust of Bacchus
and my favourite piece a wrought iron hanging swing chair with a hand-woven wicker basket seat.
wooden apple core, tree swing basket seat and cloud pruned tree from Italy
This garden is truly delightful and while it is a shame it is no longer open to the public, I can fully understand why, if I owned it, I would want to keep it secret as well!