Greys Court Garden
Yesterday was a non event kind of day, with grey skies, a little rain, and limited encouragement to venture out. In fact, of course, we did, but not for pleasure, until in the mid afternoon, we decided to pop up to Greys Court, which is only about a mile away. This is a very pleasant refuge during summer, and being so close, it is easily and frequently visited.
Greys Court has C14th origins, and in Tudor times it was fortified (for decorative rather than military purposes — see reflection of tower in pool in photograph below). Eventually, and in somewhat reduced form, it came into the hands of the Brunner family (of the Brunner Mond Company, founded by John Brunner and Ludwig Mond, and predecessor of ICI). In 1969, Sir Felix and Lady Dorothea Brunner gave the property to the National Trust, although Lady Brunner continued living there until her death. The gardens reflect her interests and several notable features — such as the crab apple arbor and the peony border — were the results of her initiative.
The garden is, in fact, a series of gardens set within the walls of the court. Each garden has its own character and variety of planting. There is a rose garden, a potager, a white garden (with lilly pool) a cherry tree garden, an apple orchard, and so on. The potager has been developed along organic lines, and is both decorative as well as functional — small quantities of produce are made available for sale. The kale, for instance, is harvested from time to time and is a colourful as well as tasty substitute for Waitrose produce.
Another notable feature is the wisteria which, being pretty venerable, forms an extensive cover over one of the courtyards, as well as spreading along an arbour along one end of the rose garden. This is one of the great attractions of the garden when it is in bloom. Would that the wisteria growing along the west facing side of our terrace were as splendid!
There are obviously some ‘problem’ spaces which the gardeners have tried to make the best of over the years. One of these is a walled space next to the tea room. It has been set out formally as a parterre with low box hedging. Each of the four sections contains a box tree whose trunk is surmounted by a circular crown. The beds have been planted with allium, which in turn are underplanted with pinks. The allium are past their flowering best now, but allium heads are interesting at any time, and the garden is still visually interesting. So, the gardeners have solved the problem of how to deal with this particular problem space.
Currently, the peony border is in bloom, and, like the wisteria, this justifies a visit. Peony simply won’t do in my garden, so we’re fortunate to be able to visit a garden where they are in profusion, and someone else has the responsibility for their maintenance!
Another delight is the small but perfectly formed apple orchard, which is adjacent to the peony border. The orchard contains some esoteric varieties not found in the fruit selection at the average supermarket. The gardeners have let the grass grow to form a flower dotted meadow and have mowed pathways through the grass, so visitors have the pleasure of walking through an informal space which contrasts with the formal arrangement of the potager and the rose garden.
There is much to be said for augmenting the modest charms of one’s own garden by visits to somewhere like Greys Court. And, from time to time, we take advantage of the modestly priced plants which are offered for sale, and in fact, our border benefits, among other things, from the Sisyrinchium striatum plants which were bought last summer, and are now in flower along the border, providing a visual punctuation among the hardy geraniums — our little piece of Greys Court garden.
For information Greys Court, visit:
- 10 Jun, 2010
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9 Aug, 2009