What, more cake? - West Green House - Fagus Gardening

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What, more cake? - West Green House

This was the last garden to visit on our trip and is in the village of Hartley Witney Hampshire. This garden surrounds The Manor House built in 1720 and is owned by Marylyn Abbott an Australian who spends her summers here in the UK and winters in Australia.
We arrived after lunch just as it was starting to rain, but as keen gardeners that did not put us off. West Green is divided into a series of walled gardens opening up onto a lake, five bridges, woodland, fountain garden, Chinese garden and chicken garden.
The entrance is through the shop which takes you into the first walled garden known as The Alice garden. This depicts the famous character of Alice in Wonderland, designed as a chequer board of box hedging with plantings of red, white and silver. There are many Topiary shapes with characters such as The Knight and a teapot.
The next walled garden is in two separate squares divided by apple arches with one side devoted to herbaceous planting and a lawn in the middle. The colour scheme is of pink roses various shades, the blues of campanula latifolia and whites such as hydrangea Annabelle. Trees within this garden were Mulberry, Magnolia and Apple. The other square is a potager, divided up by Box hedging, with a mixture of flowers and vegetables, and large fruit cages designed by Oliver Ford. In the spring, visitors will see 10,000 tulips planted in this garden. Sadly, as in many gardens, there was extensive Box Hedge disease.
Not easy to find was the Chicken garden tucked away in a corner off the walled garden. This area has a magnificent chicken house with some very pretty Pekin bantams. Their cage has a lovely yellow canopy and can only be described by a friend of mine as ‘ a design out of Versailles’ Inside the cage are willow pattern murals, and a beautiful china water bath, what luxury! The cage is set in a geometric parterre infilled with water tanks containing water lilies, and the garden walls are covered with white roses, Rambling Rector, R. Seagull and R Long John Silver. Guarding the garden there are topiary chickens.
The Nymphaeum is entered through a Victorian moon gate before going up steps with water rills either side, and leading up to a cascading waterfall and dominant fountain designed by Quinlan Terry. This Italianate garden was redesigned by Marylyn Abbott ten years ago.
On entering the Lake from the walled garden there are white lanterns in the trees in readiness for several operas to be staged in the garden during the summer. This lake was restored in 2000, and has a small island linked by a bridge. In early spring this garden has fritillaries, daffodils, bluebells, carnassia, growing by the lakeside were Southern Marsh Orchids, and under some trees we came across a small group of Lilium Martagon. Standing quietly for a few minutes by the lake we witnessed two Terns diving for fish.
To the side of the Lake is the Paradise garden based on an Islamic design. This is intersected by waterways and fountains, with the main planting being trees of Malus and Silver Birch Jacques Montii.
Around the perimeter of the lake are five interlinked bridges over a stream which meanders through the woodland. The stream and bridges have a planting of pale lemon heamerocalysis ‘Joan Senior’ with iris sibirica ‘Papillion’, plus hostas, hydrangea paniculata, ferns, white foxgloves and lazula grasses. On some of the bridges are Wisteria and Clematis Viticella ‘EtoileViolette’.
On crossing the five bridges you enter into a new garden, only planted this year. This has a farm hedge consisting of a mixture of fruit and nut species such as wild cherry plum and crab apple, hazelnut and blackberry. The intention is to create a flowering meadow between the curved hedge with topiarised beech, yew and hornbeam.
Continuing along the gravel path this takes the visitor through the woodland, passing the Doric Temple and shell encrusted Grotto which is the overflow mechanism for the lake, with planting of foxgloves, ferns and philadelphus virginal.
Leaving the woodland the last garden to see is the Chinese garden with two large sculptures of red dragons. These were either side of a row of Hornbeams surrounded by various species of Acers and interspersed with Peonies.
The greenhouses are a new addition and surrounded by pleached hornbeams.
This is a garden still evolving and worth visiting in spring as well as summer, but as all gardens have suffered with the rain, flowers are late and there was not so much colour as one would have expected at this time of year.
More cake I asked myself? How can Fagus members refuse afternoon tea and scones with jam and cream at West Green House?
Hilary Margolan.
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