PLOT ON THE LAND­SCAPE

For glo­be­trot­ting green thumbs, a ho­tel should have an en­suite gar­den with spades of style, writes Chris­tine McCabe

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays Afloat -

BARNS­LEY HOUSE Eng­land

HOME to self-taught but vir­tu­oso hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Rose­mary Verey for al­most 50 years, this el­e­gant 17th-cen­tury house near Cirences­ter in Glouces­ter­shire nes­tles in what many con­sider to be the per­fect English gar­den.

Charm­ing rather than grand, the 1.6ha plot, with many his­toric ref­er­ences, com­bines for­mal lawns and knot gar­dens with mag­i­cal walks and a pro­duc­tive potager. The house has been sen­si­tively re­stored to of­fer stylish digs com­plete with a restau­rant and day spa set in its own mod­ernistic gar­den de­signed by Stephen Wood­hams.

The luxe gue­strooms are kit­ted out with all mod cons and in­te­ri­ors have been given a con­tem­po­rary twist by own­ers Ru­pert Pen­dered and Tim Haigh. Listed by English Her­itage, the gar­dens re­main true to the Verey spirit, echoed at nearby High­grove where Prince Charles cites the de­signer as an im­por­tant in­flu­ence. www.barns­ley­house.com.

CLIVE­DEN Eng­land

DUR­ING the 1920s, so­ci­ety gar­den de­signer No­rah Lind­say helped the As­tors with their borders at Clive­den and a sense of glam­our still pre­vails at this fa­mous prop­erty (later to be­come em­broiled in the Pro­fumo af­fair). To­day a team of less glam­orous but more prag­matic gar­den­ers and woodsmen take care of the Na­tional Trust-owned es­tate sprawl­ing across a heav­ily forested ridge above the Thames in Berk­shire.

Gone are the elab­o­rate herba­ceous plant­ings in­sti­gated by Lind­say. In­stead sim­pler plea­sures pre­vail (al­beit on a grand scale) in­clud­ing a ro­man­tic wa­ter gar­den and vast parterre of sage, cat­mint and san­tolina planted be­low a balustrade shipped from Rome’s Villa Borgh­ese. The fa­mous mar­ble Foun­tain of Love and an­cient Ro­man sar­cophagi scat­tered about as ca­su­ally as gar­den furniture speak to the as­ton­ish­ing fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment this gar­den rep­re­sents.

Clive­den’s in­te­ri­ors and gue­strooms are no less lav­ish and echo the house party ex­cesses of uber so­ci­ety host­ess Nancy As­tor. When for­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter and Clive­den reg­u­lar Harold Macmil­lan was told the house was to be­come a ho­tel, he quipped ‘‘ it al­ways has been’’. www.clive­denhouse.co.uk.

FOUR SEA­SONS Bali

THE gar­dens at this bench­mark re­sort are some of the loveli­est in South­east Asia. The work of Aus­tralian-born land­scape gar­dener Michael White (bet­ter known by his adopted name of Made Wi­jaya), they evoke the sense of a lost Ba­li­nese palace and feel as if they have been here for­ever.

Perched above Jim­baran Bay near Denpasar air­port, the re­sort ap­pears to grow from the ver­dant hill­side with lush, trop­i­cal gar­dens en­velop­ing ev­ery build­ing.

An is­land of frangi­pani trees floats in a se­cluded swim­ming pool; moss-rav­aged pots and stat­ues adorn ap­par­ently an­cient walls and balustrades. Nar­row paths wind be­tween the thatched-roof guest vil­las, each en­tered through an old wooden door in a stone wall.

A private gar­den abuts the large open-sided liv­ing pav­il­ions which, in turn, open on to stone plunge pools with sea views. This favourite Four Sea­sons re­sort has few peers; ser­vice is im­pec­ca­ble and the gar­dens the very essence of trop­i­cal liv­ing. www.foursea­sons.com/jim­baran­bay.

LUNUGANGA Sri Lanka

THE Sri Lankan ar­chi­tect Ge­of­frey Bawa spent more than four decades re­fin­ing his Ital­ian-in­spired gar­dens at Lunuganga near Ben­tota, 90 min­utes south of Colombo. A mon­tage of green on green, this el­e­gant 10ha gar­den, once a rub­ber and cin­na­mon plan­ta­tion, lies on a wooded hill over­look­ing the jun­gle-cuffed Lake Ded­duwa.

Bawa used his im­pec­ca­ble eye to cre­ate a serene re­treat that ref­er­ences English land­scape as well as Ital­ianate tra­di­tions.

Trees were re­moved and the ridge of a hill low­ered to im­prove the view; fussy flower borders were es­chewed for stands of tow­er­ing bam­boo, man­groves and a lo­tus pond.

Lunuganga of­fers four en­suite gue­strooms (in­clud­ing one named for the Aus­tralian artist Don­ald Friend) in Bawa’s el­e­gant plan­ta­tion­style house as well as a two-bed­room stu­dio set high on the hill.

Daily chang­ing menus fea­ture Sri Lankan as well as Mediter­ranean-in­flu­enced seafood dishes, and meals may be taken al­fresco in one of count­less mag­i­cal gar­den nooks; the house is open year around. A web­site is un­der con­struc­tion: www.lunuganga.net or email leopold@eureka.lk.

MIL­TON PARK COUN­TRY HOUSE HO­TEL South­ern high­lands, NSW

RE­GARDED as one of the finest gar­dens in the hor­ti­cul­tur­ally blessed south­ern high­lands, Mil­ton Park was es­tab­lished al­most a cen­tury ago by the Hordern fam­ily.

Very much an English gar­den, with the old­est parts of the prop­erty her­itage listed, Mil­ton fea­tures im­pres­sive elms, oaks, a glo­ri­ous weep­ing beech and Aus­tralia’s old­est and largest var­ie­gated tulip tree. This ar­bo­real splen­dour is com­ple­mented by an ar­ray of gar­den de­lights: a wis­te­ria walk, bluebell wood, parterre and sundry rose gar­dens.

Lo­cated just east of Bowral, the arts and crafts house was con­verted into a ho­tel al­most two decades ago (for a short time aligned with the Aman­re­sort group) and to­day fea­tures 47 el­e­gant rooms, six suites and a day spa.

Green thumbs should book a guided gar­den tour in ad­vance (or pick up a DIY tour guide from re­cep­tion). www.mil­ton-park.com.au.

THORN­BURY CAS­TLE Eng­land

I AM hav­ing trou­ble imag­in­ing the svelte Eric Bana as Henry VIII but was pre­sented with no such prob­lem at Thorn­bury, a pic­tureper­fect Tu­dor cas­tle in south­ern Glouces­ter­shire where the portly king and his Anne Bo­leyn once romped about the walled gar­den, claimed to be the old­est Tu­dor-style patch in Eng­land.

With just 25 gue­strooms (or bed cham­bers, I should say) re­plete with ta­pes­tries, roar­ing log fires and, in some in­stances, ar­row slits, and se­questered be­hind crum­bling stone walls smoth­ered in climb­ing roses, Thorn­bury fea­tures fab­u­lously grand pub­lic rooms with high ceil­ings and hand­some oriel win­dows.

The Glouces­ter bed­cham­ber has a view of the Privy and Goodly gar­dens, the lat­ter also dat­ing from Tu­dor times and open­ing on to an or­chard and rose bushes hum­ming with fat bum­ble bees. The ho­tel’s mod Brit cui­sine fea­tures herbs and veg­eta­bles grown in the cas­tle gar­den. There’s even a vine­yard pro­duc­ing es­tate wine.

The gar­dens are small (about 6ha) by royal stan­dards, but Thorn­bury is rightly con­sid­ered one of the most ro­man­tic castle­ho­tels in Europe.

Here paths and cor­ri­dors echo with the foot­steps of kings and queens and the Machi­avel­lian mut­ter­ings of courtiers. www.thorn­burycas­tle.co.uk.

Gar­dens great and small: Clock­wise from main pic­ture, Mil­ton Park in the NSW south­ern high­lands; ex­otic Four Sea­sons Bali; Thorn­bury Cas­tle; en­trance to the swim­ming pool at Clive­den; and Clive­den’s stately fa­cade

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