Little Waltham Hall – NGS Open Garden for Charity

Last Thursday, despite the unsettled weather, I decided to travel down to the village of Little Waltham, just outside Chelmsford, in order to visit the garden belonging to Little Waltham Hall. The owners, Rupert & Lady Vanessa Watson opened their beautiful garden as part of the NGS – Open Gardens for Charity scheme.

I had been stirred by the prospect of a walled garden with “informal herbaceous planting”  and yet, as things turned out, I was impressed by so much more …

My journey around the garden began with admiring the herbaceous borders lining the sweeping lawn, in which different varieties of geranium nestled romantically with Lady’s Mantle. It was a simple and satisfying design, especially for lovers of a more romantic planting scheme.

As I moved towards the foot of the garden, I encountered more architectural species – such as Poppy and Acanthus – as well as a vista of the sweeping s-curves of the lawn and border …

I reached the entrance to the Walled Garden just as it started to drizzled and yet was determined not to be disturbed from my Photography. The Alliums, Delphinium, Lupins and Ornithogalum were looking fresh against the ancient bricks of the wall – the latter being adorned with a soft-pink climbing rose.

At this point the rain became too persistent to continue and I took shelter with some other visitors in a gazebo attached to the outside of the walled garden. The rain was unfortunately extremely heavy and long-lasting and I regretted leaving my brolly in the car – if only because it would have helped me reach tea & cakes without getting soaked to the skin !

Eventually, the rainfall slowed and I was able to navigate my way towards the house, with my kneeling mat over my head to keep me and the camera as dry as possible. Once sheltering under a tree, I was able to take some interesting photos of the garden in the rain, including this one.

After what I felt to be a well-earned cup of tea with cake, I returned to photograph the garden in its newly refreshed state. The Walled Garden was looking beautiful …

With the rain and drizzle now finally gone, I made my way to the gorgeous climbing roses growing up the side of Little Waltham Hall itself. They were weighed down with droplets of water, yet still smelled wonderful. A lady, who was obviously much more knowledgeable about roses than I was – immediately identified the beautiful rich orange yellow rose as ‘Teasing Georgia’ – a David Austin rose which holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Impressed with her help – and captivated by the rose blooms themselves – I proceeded to spend my remaining visiting time dedicated to ‘Rose Photography’.

As a child, I had grown up with parents who loved roses. Queen Elizabeth, Peace, Ena Harkness and the exquisite Tzigane filled my parents’ front garden – and yet, the only rose I had ever owned – Albertine – had been removed from my garden over a decade ago after succumbing to disease. Last Autumn, at Anglesea Abbey, I had been captivated by two David Austin Roses – The Lady of Shallot and Lichfield Angel. There was something extra special about the colour and shape of their blooms that drew me into their spell.

Now, as I tried my best to capture the delicately folded petals of ‘Teasing Georgia’ in my shots, I realised that I was ‘hooked’ – and it was the start of a love-affair with David Austin roses – which had been niggling away at me for some time. I regard the following gallery of photographs as wonderful – because of the rose rather than my skill with the camera. A rose bloom presents itself as a tricky subject because of its mass of delicately folded petals on numerous focal planes. It’s certainly going to be fun trying to master the art …


My last image of the day was of a dusky pink rose bloom from the next climbing rose along. It was another beautiful David Austin rose – William Morris.

By this stage, the visiting time had come to an end – and despite the rainy interlude – I had thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon.

As mentioned at the outset, I had discovered so much more than just the Walled Garden: How beautiful plants can look during a rainstorm and immediately afterwards, for example – and how raindrops on the roses at Little Waltham Hall heralded the beginning of a new passion for me …

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