Rhapsody in blue and mauve
An ancient Cotswolds farm and its associated buildings are at the heart of a new garden, carefully created over the past two decades to sit quietly in the surrounding landscape, finds George Plumptre
Roel Farmhouse, Guiting Power, Gloucestershire
Garden-making with a light touch is usually more challenging than wholesale change. Sweeping everything away and starting from scratch may be traumatic, but you give yourself a blank canvas, whereas adapting a site to retain its best features while getting rid of the worst is an altogether trickier proposition.
at roel Farmhouse, tucked into a slight fold of the Cotswolds’ west escarpment but still exposed to the area’s stark winter weather, the family was quite clear that they wanted to retain the sense of a farm that gave the place its deeply embedded air of establishment, at the same time as removing the ugly additions that are an inevitable side effect of modern farming, such as modern grain dryers. They wanted to make a garden that would elevate the surroundings of the Cotswold stone house without losing its simplicity and the sense of being rooted in the landscape.
and what a landscape! in this part of the world, it can be relentlessly bleak and austere on a cold winter’s day, although undeniably idyllic in the warmer months. it also offers a thrilling glimpse of unspoilt england. The view from the main south garden out to the sweeping bank of farmland is like a ravilious painting, the flowing lines of the undulating land dotted with scattered trees and sheep.
retaining the house’s umbilical link with this at the same time as setting it in a new garden would not be easy, but, less than two decades since the family acquired the property, and with input from the garden designer graham Lloyd-brunt in recent years, it has been achieved with gentle aplomb.
The first step was to plant hundreds of trees to form shelter belts along the farm’s west boundary and give the degree of protection that a developing garden would need. initially, most of the present garden site was part of the farm, there were the remains of cow sheds in the main south garden and pasture swept up to the house and its assorted barns. now, just the old stone farm buildings