A Suffolk Cottage Garden

Last week I was privileged to be able to visit The National Collection of Sir Michael Foster’s Irises – planted and cared for by his Gt Gt Granddaughter Lucy Skellorn in her inspiring Suffolk garden.

As well as photographing the Foster Irises ( please see my previous blogpost), I was drawn to the romantic beauty of Lucy’s cottage-garden planting.

 I envy people who can create a mass of intertwining plants that form such a beautiful, cohesive flow of texture and colour like this.  I know it has to do with having enough of each plant type to form a drift – not using too many different species and introducing plants for foliage interest ( grasses, Stachys and Cardoons in Lucy’s case) amongst the patches of colour in order to accentuate the effect of both foliage & flower. The creation of different heights and textures is vital, along with – in the best examples- a coherent colour palette. This one was perfect for my taste – purples, soft blues, dusky pinks and whites, nothing jarring or out of place.  It all looked relaxed and natural, although I’m sure was the result of tasteful and careful initial planning – and then the patience to wait for your plan to develop over a few years.

The final ingredient, perhaps, is that added touch of magic that only Nature can bring to a scheme when it sorts out exactly how it wants things to appear. What plants will struggle and fade away – or thrive, spread and mingle together.  

Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’

Here, in Lucy’s garden, the recipe above, together with the golden light filtering into the garden through the surrounding trees and hedgerows adding its magic, made this a summer’s evening to remember. It was the perfect time to be there enjoying the sights, perfumes and birdsong – and hopefully capturing a spirit of this in my images

A cottage garden is always best with its adjoining cottage – and climbing roses covered the walls of this one, giving a perfect backdrop to the flower beds.

There was Gertrude Jekyll, wonderfully crammed with its ruffles and full of old-fashioned fragrance, next to the paler pink St Swithun.  I was pleased to discover 2 new varieties for me – Buff Beauty and Meg. The latter, with its semi-double flowers, was Lucy’s favourite and I could see why. I don’t think single or semi-double roses are represented enough in the average garden – and people are really missing out without these beautiful flowers. Perhaps it would be a choice for me if I decided to clear away my ever expanding Bay bushes from either side of my porch to grow roses around my door ? So romantic …

There were other roses in the garden, arranged to add height to the planting scheme.

Rosa ‘Mme. Isaac Pereire’

The roses were not the only inspiration from Lucy’s garden. I’m definitely going to be trying the Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ with my new white Foster Irises.

– and also grow some purple and white Hesperis

– and my favourite flower of the whole garden – this dusky poppy. I’m going to see if I can get some seeds from Lucy, although I believe most don’t come true. I shall need to ask her which variety it is.

Here are some more views of Lucy’s beautiful plants …

If I’d been invited to visit Lucy’s garden without her Foster Irises being there, I would still have been spellbound. The natural, romantic feel of this intimate garden offered me such an enjoyable experience and the late evening sunlight cast a magical spell over everything, as each plant took its own special place within the garden’s wonderful tapestry …

Boxford Open Gardens 2018

Flowering Urn

 

 

Sunday 3rd June was my 3rd annual visit to Boxford Open Gardens.

A firm favourite with me (despite always being a scorching hot day with tricky light conditions) and so I was expecting great things from my journey around the gardens, even if I could only manage a small proportion in the 5 hours available. I actually managed to visit 19 of the 27 gardens and loved every minute …

I have a passion for my Flower Photography and hope that you will love my images.

I’ve collated my images in order to post my favourites – and most of the gardens have been included. There are new favourites every year – yet 17 Swan Street, Weavers House & Crown House are always eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed. I do hope you enjoy my peek behind the back gates of the beautiful houses in this charming Suffolk village …

4, The Causeway

This was a lovely, natural garden with lots of wild flower areas and a beautiful Weigela.  A good start to my day !

 

2, Cox Hill

I was the first visitor of the day to this charming garden, which had a definite Plantswoman’s touch. It was lovely to chat to the owner, Ginny Budd, about her choice of flowers – especially the Cedric Morris irises. There was also a very attractive double geranium that I had never seen before. One of my favourite gardens of the day …

 

15, Holbrook Barn Road

The roses were magnificent back in early June, before the long dry spell kicked in – and this garden was a spectacular showcase for many beautiful examples. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here, although it was tempered with sadness that the owner had recently lost his wife – who had been the driving force behind the garden’s creation. He had done a marvellous job keeping it in perfect condition and promised faithfully that he would learn the names of all the roses ready for my visit next year ! This was one of the loveliest smaller gardens that I have ever visited and I especially loved the views through the rose-clad archway !

 

21, Brook Hall Road

I was lucky enough to coincide my visit here with some beautiful singing by the Madrigalia Choir and enjoy some shade in this restful garden.

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15, Brook Hall Road

The houses along this road all back onto a brook ( hence the name) and the owners of this particular garden had taken full advantage of this feature, creating a wonderful series of paths & decking around the brook. It had involved a great deal of hard work and expense, yet the result was totally worth it. They had even unearthed some special friends who lived down near the water !!

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13, Brook Hall Road

Another peaceful garden with plenty of welcome shade and nature trees. I particularly loved the alpine sink with the pretty pink Lewisia.

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Chequers

I headed back down into the village towards the church to one of my favourite gardens from last year. I had spent ages in this garden then and was pleased to see that it held the same charm, even though the weather conditions of 2018 meant that there was a completely different display on show. This year I was also able to meet the owner, Sarah, who had been very pleased with my photos from last year’s visit.

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3, Church Street

This was my favourite photo from this small courtyard-style garden, recently taken on by new owners. A beautiful rose – and I can never resist bunting !

 

Rambling Rose & Bunting
Rambling Rose & Bunting

 

Mary’s House

I always stop off for a quick visit to this lovely property. The tiny garden is always brimming with colour …

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Hendrick House

This garden is always very popular with lots of interest, as well as a lovely view of St Mary’s Church tower. The plants on display were quite different to last year because of how different our weather has been – and the roses were especially pretty.

 

17, Swan Street

I was pleased to arrive here, as it is always one of my top gardens…

I especially love Guy’s Hosta display and the beautiful climbing rose – Constance Spry. Needless to say, these 2 were in stunning form, as always !

 

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Weavers House

Another firm favourite with me – with the added bonus of being able to chat to a wonderful Plantswoman, Maggie Thorpe. Her small courtyard garden always looks special and is filled with more unusual varieties. This year,  I was particularly taken with the Monkshood – this image being one of my best loved of the day …

Monkshood
Monkshood

 

Crown House

Time was passing quicker than I thought, so I decided to make my way by car up towards Groton & Edwardstone – as I had never managed to visit many gardens from that area. I started with an old favourite at Crown House – the home of another talented Plantswoman – Chloris of ‘The Blooming Garden’ Blog.
It was as beautiful as last year – with the Rose “Phyllis Bide” looking really splendid on the trellis & arches of the Secret Garden. The latter has really come into its own this year and looks established and luxurious with the heady perfume of Honeysuckle – Lonicera “Scentsation” and a very pretty double Philadelphus “Snowbelle”. I’ve included images of my other favourites of the day, including a wonderful white single rose with flushes of pink.
All in all; a truly inspiring garden …

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From Groton to Edwardstone and -:

8 The Winthrops

I had been recommended not to miss this garden if I liked roses –  and there were definitely some wonderful blooms here, as well as some delightful cottage-garden species.

 

Edwardstone Cottage

This garden had stunning Cistus purpureus with petals like crushed silk …

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Walnut Tree Cottage

By the time I found this delightful property it had just gone 4.30 and the garden was officially closed. The owners were extremely friendly,  however,  letting me have a look around and providing me with welcome refreshment ! It was a lovely garden with the highlights being a wonderful brick outbuilding adorned with climbing rose and a stunning deep-raspberry-red lupin – which gave me another favourite image of the day.

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Dormers

I had planned to visit Dormers as my finale because it was open until 5pm. It was a marvellous way to finish the day, as it was a stunning garden in a most favourable setting.
Being surrounded on 3 sides by open fields gave a perfect backdrop to the planting schemes, which had been cleverly designed to maximise vistas from all angles. Beds were planted up to be viewed both looking back into the garden from the field perimeter as well as to be admired with the fields and woods beyond.

There were numerous pathways around the garden which led me to new vistas  &  garden ‘rooms’. It would be difficult for me to choose my favourite feature of the garden – as there were so many-:

The gorgeously romantic pink clematis;

The pond area with views to open countryside;

The amazing selection of roses in the front garden …

Perhaps I would have to say that the vistas created by the rose & clematis-covered archway in the side garden were the loveliest aspect ?

 

Certainly my image below of this vista is my top photograph of the day …

 

Overall – and it is a very tough decision – this was my favourite garden of the day. You will have to visit Dormers next year and decide for yourselves ..!

Boxford Open Gardens – Sunday 4th June 2017

The prospect of another gloriously sunny weekend added to my eager anticipation of visiting Boxford Open Gardens in Suffolk – celebrating its 20th year.

In 2016, on a scorchingly hot day, I had to juggle my time between Boxford’s delights and the beautiful garden at Leaven Hall in Leavenheath – which had its doors open under the National Garden Scheme.
I was therefore looking forward to covering more ground at Boxford this year and definitely managing to visit some of the outlying gardens in Edwardstone & Groton.

Full of determination and excitement, I purchased my programme and made a start opposite St Mary’s Church – at Chequers, a former coaching inn …

Chequers.

My quest of photographing 24 Gardens in 6 hours seemed remotely feasible until I stepped over the threshold into this awe-inspiring garden, which managed to captivate me for well over an hour !

I started in the Walled Garden and was amazed to find that the land behind the house was far ranging. There were many beautiful flowers, arranged in an informal style – the borders flowing harmoniously from one colour to the next.

When I turned around to face the house, I was pleasantly surprised by the most picturesque view of St Mary’s church tower rising up behind the characterful Chequers itself.


I loved the gentle nature of Walled Garden. Nothing grand or showy – just charming … I found the palette of colours – provided by Geraniums, Veronica, Alliums and Euphorbia – to be very pleasing.

There were many individual flowers that caught my eye -:

A path from the Walled Garden led through a vegetable patch to a gate in a crinkle-crankle wall …

Once through, the garden opened up into an area of more greenery – trees, shrubs and a slope down towards a wooden bridge.
This bridge led me across the River Box (which flowed delightfully through the wider expanses of the garden) and took me onto a huge meadow area with trees, a pond and natural planting.

I was enthralled by Chequers, despite now being seriously behind schedule – yet couldn’t think of a better place to lose all track of time …

 

Mary’s House.

This was my first stop along Swan Street – a tiny, but quaint cottage garden. It belonged to a home bequeathed to the church by its owner and was a sun-trap full of colour.

 

Hendrick House.

The sun was at its hottest whilst I was visiting this beautiful garden, presenting me with some tricky conditions for my photography. It was a fun challenge to work with that in order to produce images which truly represented the beauty of the place.

The garden occupies a large area backing onto the River Box and the garden at Chequers. It has similarly beautiful views of the church.

The following are my favourite photographs, with a special mention going to the impressive delphiniums, whose bold blues & purples were still able to wow me even in the extremely bright sunshine -:

I mustn’t forget my favourite garden sculpture, which I remembered fondly from last year …

 

Number 17 – Swan Street.

This was my favourite garden from last year and it was easy to see why I had been seduced by its beauty. Smaller than the previous garden (which it abutted), this still had the wonderful feel & atmosphere to it that I had loved so much before. The look of the garden was quite different to last year, due to the flowers all blooming earlier. There were, however, most capable & beautiful replacements to step into the limelight. It was tricky to pick out individual areas as favourites because it was the overall planting design and combinations of colours that meant the whole garden worked for me as a delightful place to sit, relax and stare ( and take photographs, of course).

Mention must go, however, to the gorgeous climbing rose, Constance Spry (above & below),  which I had spotted eagerly from the previous garden.

The Iris siberica were coming to an end – yet were still as beautiful as last year.

I especially loved the owner’s new planting arrangement of Poppy, Geranium, Cerinthe and Valerian.

I was also lucky enough to catch a cheeky photo of Hacker the dog …

 

Weavers House.

Next stop was the garden belonging to Maggie Thorpe, from the Suffolk Plant Heritage Society. Always a pleasure to meet and so knowledgeable; Maggie has a gorgeous suntrap of a garden with an abundance of beautiful plants worked perfectly into a small courtyard area,  full of interest and attractive combinations and colours.

My favourites this year (as it looked quite different to last) were the dainty rose, Ballerina, and the exotic Carpenteria Californica – with flowers like Japanese anenomes.

 

Number 55, Swan Street.

This was a new garden of a recently-built property, a little further along Swan Street. Related to the family at Hendrick House, the owner had set out some very attractive landscaping & beds – ready for what will be a beautiful garden of the future. The owner explained that lots of plants had come from her family’s garden, so it is clear that it will be a garden with an excellent choice of species. Starring already were the striking delphiniums and lupins in the rear borders – as well as a lovely rose in the front garden.

 

I look forward to seeing how the garden has matured by 2018 !

 

Crown House, Groton.

My last garden of the day involved a trip out to Groton on the shuttle minibus. Maggie had encouraged me to visit – saying that Crown House was a garden not to be missed – and one to linger in for the remainder of the day. I was also swayed to venture up the hill by a message I had recently received, regarding last year’s Boxford article on my Wildcarrot blog.  A fellow blogger, under the pen name ‘Chloris’, had visited my post and sent her hopes that I would come to visit her garden this year. I had no idea which of the outlying gardens ‘Chloris’ had created, but was keen to see if I could find out. I was delighted to find that I chosen the correct one – and was able to meet ‘Chloris’ in person !

So many delightful plants, unusual varieties and a lovely serene, peaceful feeling about the garden, soon let me know that I had chosen well. There were lots of interesting elements – such as the beach garden – which inspired me and renewed my interest in getting my beach hut & beach area finally underway. It was especially interesting to see the horned poppy – which I will definitely be planting at Marlborough House.

There was also an interesting alpine gravel garden – with an eye-catching Rhodhypoxis baurii …

Here are a few of my other favourites -:

My overriding pleasure from this garden, however, came from the roses. Firstly the 2 tree-climbers: although one, Grace, is not a climber – it has just taken to its location superbly well and adapted to tree-living …

The single/semi-double roses were a joy and it made such a refreshing change to see them featured so prominently.

There were also plenty of beautiful doubles in a myriad shades of pink. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lovely collection of roses in such a natural, cottage-garden setting – truly wonderful.

I’m so glad I finished my thoroughly enjoyable day here, as there was so much to see & photograph.

I would love to discover the name of every rose I’ve featured and I’m hoping that ‘Chloris’ will let me know in due course, so that I can update my galleries.

 

This is the longest post I’ve completed so far on my blog, which is a testament to the extremely high standard of gardens at this year’s event. It is much too tricky to pick a favourite …

 

Thanks to all the friendly, welcoming owners who were happy for me to spend a long time in each of their gardens, enabling me to get some amazing images. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing your wonderful creations displayed in my post.

See you all – and hopefully a few more in 2018 …

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Helmingham Hall Gardens – August 2016

Helmingham Hall is only a stone’s throw away from Otley Hall in Suffolk, yet somehow I had never thought of visiting to take flower images – until this summer.  I ‘discovered’ the beautiful walled garden whilst at the hall for the Suffolk Dog Day in July – was bowled over by its romantic beauty – and made a plan to return as soon as possible …

My first Photoshoot was at the beginning of August and I was filled with a restless excitement to capture as much as possible. I was visiting with a couple of fellow photographers – who were put off by the breezy conditions – so I struck off on my own to concentrate fully on the task in hand.  The weather was brooding and gave a fantastic atmosphere to the views of the hall and its grounds -:

The hall itself cannot be under-estimated. It has all my favourite elements – red brick, masses of handsome chimneys, elegant proportions and a moat with romantic drawbridges. So pleasingly photogenic …

 

I took a few shots of the formal knot garden before making my way to the walled garden -:

 

 

The walled garden itself has a parterre between the hall and its entrance, which allows for beautiful vistas in every direction. There are urns and intricate wrought iron gates, with Pegasus finials on the gate pillars.

 

My overriding impression is that the design of the garden – despite all these formal elements (and not-withstanding the formality of the grid layout within the walls themselves) – has achieved a relaxed and informal feel, romantic and flowing and extremely welcoming.

 

 

The planting has a great deal to do with this achievement. There are no harsh lines or edges – gateways are softened by Japanese anemones, hibiscus clothes the end of the wrought iron bean tunnel, pure white cosmos form wispy swaying circles around the grand urns – and wide herbaceous borders crammed full of complementary colours, heights and textures stretch out in all directions to achieve maximum impact from the grid of pathways …

 

 

Once I had fully soaked up the atmosphere of the garden, I set about studying individual plants and found plenty of favourites …

 

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There were fruit & vegetable areas within the walled garden, which blended in beautifully …

 

 

… and a cleverly designed dahlia ‘cutting garden’ which represented the individual plants set out throughout the herbaceous borders. These were thankfully all neatly labelled and so acted like a key on a map for me. The neat line of plants also made it easy to photograph individual blooms -:

 

 

It was all too soon time for the garden to close – my friends having departed some time before me – and yet I had only managed to concentrate on about a third of the area within the walls. I felt that it would take several days to do this garden justice, however, I had thoroughly enjoyed myself was left with the pleasurable thought of knowing that I needed to return again very soon.

 

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 …

Nayland Open Gardens – June 2016

Nayland is Boxted’s neighbour, down in the Stour Valley and just across the border into Suffolk.  It is an extremely picturesque village, with listed buildings and quaint cottages whose gardens line the river and mill stream.

The weather threatened rain for my visit, although it was hot and humid. My backpack of camera gear and brolly seemed heavier than normal – however the latter was a great deterrent – as the afternoon thankfully stayed dry. The sky was cloudy but the light was soft rather than dull, which was perfect for taking my photos.

I decided at the outset not to try to visit every garden – as I knew that this would hamper my creativity and concentration – so I took my time enjoying just 6 of the 16 gardens open to visitors. There was one particular garden that I had really enjoyed on a previous visit – so my only plan was to make sure that my walk around the village would take me to it.

I would like to feature 4 gardens from my afternoon – each special yet with very individual styles. These particular gardens gave me inspiration and planting ideas for my own garden, as well as providing an array of beautiful plants and vistas to photograph.

Garden 14 – Loretto, Church Lane

This garden was a revelation to me. It had been created only 3 years ago by its present owners, who have tastefully matched its design to reflect the ‘feel’ of the village and the era of the victorian red-brick house to which it belongs. It has a superior location near to the parish church and is blessed with a wonderful feeling of space surrounding it. There is no other building to overlook it – and this has an extremely calming effect. The owners have created a croquet lawn, a red-brick path which appears to have been laid for many years and a choice of planting that upholds the great tradition of the herbaceous border.

I was amused, when once again ( as had happened in Long Melford) I was asked by the owner to identify the Thalictrum, which was drawing the attention of the many visitors for its soft-pink blooms adding height to accentuate the borders.

 

To reach the next set of gardens, I walked alongside the mill stream, which ran along the front of the picturesque cottages of Fen Street. I had forgotten just how breathtakingly beautiful this area of the village was – as it is “off the beaten track” – and I had not ventured this way for some time. The houses that line the street are joined to the roadway by quaint bridges across the stream and their gardens are unashamedly ‘cottage’ in character.

 

 

Garden 12 – Lopping House, 28 Fen Street

This garden belonged to a modern property, which was part of an attractive line-up of cottages bordering the village mill stream. I was pleasantly surprised by the choice of plants, which certainly did not represent mainstream conventions. The garden may have been small compared to the others I had visited, however the borders were ‘big on’ appeal to plant-lovers. I was swayed immediately by the presence of a Cephalaria gigantea in full bloom – whereas mine is hardly visible above ground. There was also a gorgeous purple semi-cactus Dahlia in bloom – which seemed very early – and a striking Sambucus nigra with its plate-like rose white blooms and finely dissected leaves.

 

Garden 10 – Longwood Barn, 38 Fen Street

This garden was my 2016 favourite, because it seemed to have a ‘Secret Garden’ feel to it. The walled garden bordered the mill stream and the owner had opened the gate to allow visitors a wonderful vista towards the timbered-house and its beautiful garden. The air was filled with the scent of roses and the atmosphere in the garden was one of serenity and beauty in perfect harmony …