A short walk across the lawn leads the visitor from the calm green world of grass and beech to the hidden vibrancy of the walled garden. Orderly rows of vegetables, trained fruit and the soft colours of the herbaceous borders combine to create a traditional kitchen garden that is both productive and ornamental.
Enter through the wooden gate celebrating the hundredth birthday of Joan Browne-Swinburne. Immediately on your left is the east border, which provides colour throughout the growing season from the early clouds of pink cowparsley, to blue campanulas and white phlox. Impressive spikes of dark purple hollyhocks and the blood red of Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ provide striking accents above the silver foliage of stachys and artemisa. Colour is sustained by a succession of bulbs from tulips through alliums to lilies. On your right is the peony border, with its indulgent pinks and whites, but also the primrose yellow of Paeonia mlokosewitchii, commonly known as ‘Molly the Witch’. Their short but spectacular season is complimented by the spring blossoming of iris, more tulips and the trained apple trees.
Gravel paths lead you on past wigwams or ‘fences’ of sweet pea in the three annual borders, which maintain colour until the first frosts, but also help to divide the large beds of vegetables. These contain the traditional regiments of onions, leeks and potatoes and perennial beds of asparagus and globe artichokes. The aim is also to have successional planting with a variety of colour and texture such as the frilly green of lettuce Lollo Biondo, the speckles of lettuce Freckles and the dark purple of lettuce Red Salad Bowl. However, there are also some surprises such as golden beetroot, purple carrots and even blue potatoes!
The soft fruit is more traditional with rows of raspberries, strawberries, various currants and gooseberries. A firm favourite with some of the younger members of the family are the alpine strawberries. As are the peaches, figs and apricots in the glasshouse, which also protects the tender crops of tomatoes, cucumbers and fiery chilli peppers.
Leave the walled garden through one of the wooden gates on the south side of the small orchard and wander through the trees and shrubs out onto the south front, where smooth lawns and sunken ponds lead east past the house and terraces of lavender and Iceberg roses to the Conservatory. This is filled with colourful pelargoniums and tender climbers such as the intricate blooms of the Passiflora caerulea and the heady scents of the jasmine. Linger in the calm atmosphere before heading back west for a short woodland walk along the Ha Ha to the 18 th century folly of a ruined chapel with its madly Rambling Rector rose.