Monday, November 11, 2013

Old Down House, Horton - Part I

Since my own garden is going into autumn withdrawal there is not too much to see and therefore to blog about. So I thought it might be a nice idea to feature the second National Gardens Scheme (NGS) Open Garden that we had visited during our vacation in England this year in June.

Old Down House is a lovely cottage garden, owned by Dr and Mrs Colin, with stunning wide and open views into the farmland that surrounds this old farm house. For the circumstances in England it is a relatively small garden, 3/4 -acre, which I like, because it is way closer to the garden size that most of us have to play with. I am always interested what someone makes out of a smaller garden, since I feel that this is much more challenging than if you have acres of land. For me the highlights of this garden were lovingly planted perennial beds layed out in a formal design, but filled to the brim in an informal way with beautiful cottage plants and an incredible potager.

The beds by the front door were framed with a beautiful plant with yellow leaves, which I didn't know the name of. As much as I like the boxwood hedges, it was refreshing to see these beds surrounded by a small hedge of this neat plant. I believe the impressive rose growing to the left side of the front door is a yellow flowering banksia rose, which perfectly picks up the color of the yellow low hedge.

The yellow leaves of the hedge make such a nice contrast to the purple alliums.

There was some quirky garden art to admire before you even got to enter the main garden.

Here is another example.

Then there it was: The main garden with a central circular lawn framed by a symmetrical design of flower beds. The open views into the surrounding landscape let this garden appear so much bigger than it actually was. What a lucky situation for the owners.

After looking at some lovely details...

....and wonderful plant combinations in that area we decided without much enthusiasm to go and see the potager first, because the main flower garden was quite packed with visitors at that time.

On the way to the potager we passed this beautiful, fury, relaxed fellow.

Luckily for us there was no one in this part of the garden! Running the risk to be called a snob I honestly have to say that I think vegetable gardens are often not the prettiest and therefore best hidden in a less prominent part of the garden, but was I wrong in case of this potager!

I know that to be able to harvest berries and other goodies that the birds are really after you need to protect these fruits one way or the other, which often doesn't look very appealing. But this structure, which was completely enclosed with netting appeared to be surprisingly pleasing to the eye.

They didn't have one but two of those structures. I think they look just neat and are probably very functional as well.

A beautiful and romantic corner of the vegetable garden. The clematis conquering the wall looks so pretty.

Here is a look in the opposite direction of the potager. This photo shows the symmertrical design of that garden very well.

The potager was located directly behind the house build on a quite elevated level. To do the hardscape for this one must have been quite an undertaking.

I loved the beautiful Victorian plant stand holding an aurikel plant collection!

On this photo you can see that the terrace between the house and the potager was used as a sitting area. This is for sure a vegetable and fruit garden worth looking at and enjoying!

In part two of this post I will show you the central circular lawn with the main beautiful flower beds in more detail. Please, stay tuned!

See you in the garden!



  1. You've visited so many charming places whilst on holiday here Christina. Your photos are always a delight to see! Looking forward to part two already!

  2. Wow, I really love this garden, it is sweet, romantic, fun, my style.

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to seeing more.


  3. The English NGS gardens are always a delight, when we go to England we always try to visit some. This one is again a delight, I love the romantic style.

  4. Lovely. An inspiration indeed! I love the archway thing in the middle that connects the four vegetable beds. But I want a clematis growing on it. However, in looking closely, it does look like it had something growing on it. Makes me wonder what it was. Love the wisteria and the Lady Banks growing up the house, too. My favorite look - and one I won't venture to try!

  5. So wunderschöne Bilder von deiner Reise!
    Englands Gärten zu besuchen wäre auch mal mein Traum :-)
    Ganz viele liebe Grüße
    sendet dir Urte :-)

  6. Mark and Gaz, when we are in the UK, we always try to see as many gardens as we can and more... ;-)! The NGS gardens are usually a special delight to indulge in. I am so glad that I have been able to visit the UK a few times by now and could admire first hand the high art of gardening that is practiced in you lovely country.

    Lorraine, for me it is really fun to share the photos of our UK garden visits on my blog. If other people enjoy them even better!

    Janneke, oh how nice to know that you are also a NGS lover!

    Holley, I was wondering the same, what they would grow on the climbing structure in the middle of the potager. It certainly would look nice with something green and maybe even flowering on it. I like your idea to use a clematis.

    Elfenrosengarten, nice that you like my photos. Hope your dream to visit England comes true, soon. I am sure you would enjoy it!


  7. I love to see gardens like that. Real gardens that people live in and where fruits and vegetables grow. This one is very well done! The front of the house with the wisteria sort of reminded me of Filoli's front courtyard. Have you visited Filoli in Woodside, CA? One of my favorites! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the gardens at Old Down House!

  8. Ce jardin est vraiment très beau, les propriétaires sont réussi à donner à leur espace une atmosphère agréable, plein de charmes.Les décorations sont originales et parfois insolites, elles s’intègrent parfaitement dans cet univers.La maison est somptueuse, elle doit être magnifique à l'intérieur.
    belle journée jocelyne

  9. I had to smile when I read “ a relatively small garden, 3/4 of an acre, way closer to the garden size that most of us have to play with.” I asked Google how big an acre is and got 4046 m2, my London garden is 62m2, just to compare! Still, I have managed to squeeze in over 1000 plants and bulbs, counting every single one, so size doesn’t always matter…
    Your photos are lovely, a charming garden with defined areas and a big area for growing vegetables and herbs – just what I would have liked to have :-)

  10. Dorothy, when we were still living in the Bay Area I visited Filoli a few times. It is one of the most beautiful public gardens that I have seen in America so far. Every time when I visited it is was meticulously maintained and the camellias there are just mind boggling. Just talking about it I am longing to see it, again!

    Jocelyne, I also think that this is a very charming garden and that the owners were capable to give it their personal tough, which for me makes a private garden truly a delightful garden. I often wished to get a peek into the lovely houses as well, but I guess you have to be grateful that the owners open their incredible gardens to the public and be content with that :-)!

    Helene, when it comes to garden sizes it is all relative, isn't it? When I was writing this post I was thinking about the private gardens in England that we had visited, which very often covered a couple of acres of land. But, of course, they were in the country side and sometimes I couldn't help to think that in general also more wealthy people participate in the NGS Open Gardens events then the average gardener. Of course, if you live in a city like London every foot of land becomes so expensive and precious. As I know from your blog you definitively created a paradise in your little garden, so I couldn't agree more size doesn't matter when it comes to the beauty of a garden :-)!


  11. So beautiful ! I wish we could visit a garden like this in Greece ... I love the white clematis !

  12. You are sooo right about them having a lucky situation with the expansive views behind their property! It really does make the garden look so much bigger! But seriously! This garden is amazing!!!! And that vegetable garden...oh my goodness! It is gorgeous! The formal mixed with the informal is what I hope to accomplish one of these days! I have been inspired through their garden! I hope you have a lovely weekend!!!!

  13. Dani, I also often think that it would be nice to visit gardens similar to the one I featured where I live. Even though I have seen beautiful gardens in California as well, rarely they could compare to the ones in the UK. The Brits simply have the gardening down :-)!

    Nicole, your enthusiastic comment made me happy and brought a smile to my face! Thanks! There is no greater reward for me for blogging than when someone feels inspired through my posts! Wishing you a nice weekend as well!


  14. Hallo, ich hätte ja schon was geschrieben, Christina, aber Blogger macht mir sehr viele Probleme mit dem Kommentieren.
    Der Garten ist wunderschön, das Haus sowieso. Natürlich sind die alten Häuser auch zugig, das darf man nicht vergessen. Aber mal drin wohnen - das wär schon was!


  15. Heerrrrrrrlich!!! Ich kann ja nicht genug englische Gärten ansehen *seufz*. Da krieg ich gleich Fernweh. Du die Dinger heissen Möbelknaufs, welche ich als Abschluss für die Etageren benutzt haben. Es gibt sie auch in verschiedenen Online Shops.
    Hab ein schönes Wochenende.
    En liebe Gruess

  16. What a wonderful garden. The potager is so beautiful and inspiring. The yellow hedging plant in the first photo looks like euonymus, it really does set off the yellow rose doesn't it! xx

  17. Sigrun, sorry to hear that you had a hard time commenting on my blog. Hope you can overcome this problem. I guess, there is nothing that I can do on my side to help :-(. I have never thought about that the old houses in England might be pretty drafty, but you are probably right, but still, living in one would be a secret dream of mine.

    Alex, we definitively have something in common here, I can't see enough English Gardens either :-)! We have visited quite a few more on our last trip to England and I hope to get around to post about them on my blog. Thanks for letting me know about the Moebelknaufs (what a nice German word). I believe I could get them here too, but I don't think I have the guts to try drilling through china to attempt to create an Etagere as you did.

    Serendipity, I am glad that you liked the garden that I was featuring. I have to look up euonymus, maybe it is available here in California as well. It is always nice to have some gardeners from England chime in and help to identify the plants. Thank you very much!


  18. Olá amiga,vim retribuir sua carinhosa visita ao meu cantinho.
    Fiquei feliz por seguir-me!!!
    Obrigada,volte sempre e pegue o meu selinho de agradecimento!

    Beijos Marie.

  19. Marie, thanks for visiting my blog, so nice to have someone over from Portugal! It doesn't happen to often. Also thanks for becoming a follower. Hope to see you soon, again!


  20. What a beautiful garden Christina. I can imagine how great it was to you to visit.
    Have a wonderful day.

  21. Marijke, my husband and I had so much fun visiting and photographic this and the other gardens that we saw. That is especially nice for me, since my husband isn't usually that much into gardening, but even he can't resist the beauty of the English gardens :-).