Cranborne Manor Garden; hidden in Dorset on the Cranborne Estate.
Mary kept up spirits on the journey by telling us it was one of her favourite gardens and it is easy to see why.
The house is currently the Dorset home of Viscount Cranborne, the eldest son of the 7th Marquis of Salisbury. The garden is designed as a series of rooms leading you around the house.
The garden is entered by walking through the Garden Centre; so tempting to linger there to admire the range of old-fashioned roses for sale. On through the walled garden, with a fun box topiary settee. Next a walk through a wildflower meadow dominated by a life size White Park bull ( Nicola Toms 2003). The Manor House was originally built as one of King John's hunting lodges and the entrance to the South Front garden is guarded by two stone elephants. Inside the borders are crammed with climbing roses, clematis and perennials. In a central grass circle is an impressive (though not restful) water feature of a flower by Angela Connor. Water trickles onto the spread out leaves that then open the central " petals".
Through the aptly named Lump Garden - a selection of clipped yew and box lumps! This leads to the Croquet Lawn and into the Sundial Garden, admiring the impressive yew hedges with buttresses. The Sundial Garden has a raised central mound holding the sundial and 8 edged beds. All the time you have to admire the work that goes to keeping the clipped edges and hedges tidy.
Through the Yew Allee and into the Winterbourne Garden. I liked the niches in the back hedge especially the vase, mirror and plaque combination. Was this something I could copy at home? The White Garden was beautiful; scented and restful with Clematis ‘Jackmanii Alba’, ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ and ‘Huldine’ and Rosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’. Rows of espalier apples underplanted with white Dianthus in neat mounds that had been painstakingly dead-headed, lined the central path.
The Church Walk brought gasps of delight from everyone; a romantic planting in blues, pink and white backed by espalier apples. My husband's comment "It’s better than that other garden". He was referring to the Savill Garden in Surrey which is also difficult to find!