The ad­van­tage here is the feel­ing of be­ing in an en­tirely pri­vate world

Country Life Every Week - - In The Garden -

Gar­den­ing had been equally sim­ple. When Dr Pot­ter ar­rived, it con­sisted largely of ‘just a pleas­ant cot­tage gar­den in the front courtyard’. He had clear gen­eral ideas about the sort of gar­den he wanted— ‘one that re­flected the at­mos­phere of the house, wouldn’t be too neat, would tol­er­ate self-seed­ers and would bleed out at its edges into the sur­round­ing land­scape’—so he went, in the first in­stance, to Mr May­nard for more de­tailed ad­vice. ‘Arne helped us take the first steps, then we started to learn to run by our­selves.’

Nowa­days, the east-fac­ing front courtyard, with its fine stone walls, is en­tered through a hand­some wooden gate, de­signed by Mr May­nard and made by a lo­cal crafts­man. Then, yew blocks in­ter­spersed with laven­der de­fine the main flagged path to the off-cen­tre front door (or, if that and the back door are open, the al­ter­nat­ing shade and light of the view through to the rear courtyard).

A sec­ondary, more cen­tral, grav­elled path, fo­cused on a clipped bay, helps bal­ance the whole area and a Cooper’s Burmese rose riots on the house wall and one of Mr May­nard’s sig­na­ture huge ‘layer cake’ top­i­ary pieces adds its weighty pres­ence to one side.

The left side of the courtyard is de­fined by a row of es­paliered fruit trees, the roses Cé­cile Brun­ner and Abun­dance cover the wall on the right and the sur­round­ing beds, de­signed to last all sea­son, are planted in Dr Pot­ter’s pre­ferred soft colours: pinks, lilacs and pur­ples. In them, the roses Wil­liam Lobb and Félic­ité Par­men­tier are grown over hazel domes (a typ­i­cal May­nard touch). They are joined by a glo­ri­ously pretty sup­port­ing cast of al­li­ums, fox­gloves, aqui­le­gias, lupins, phlox, agas­tache, monar­das and, later in the sea­son, he­lianthus and Michael­mas daisies.

It is easy to miss the cross-vista im­me­di­ately out­side, de­fined by a char­ac­ter­ful row of es­paliered old perry pears. They had reached the end of their work­ing lives and were about to be de­stroyed when they were ac­quired by Mr May­nard and brought to South Wood. Then, just to the north, a ser­pen­tine path rises up a wild­flower bank full of frit­il­lar­ies, prim­roses, cowslips, oxlips, na­tive daf­fodils and ox-eye daisies. Plants grow a lit­tle too vig­or­ously here and then tend to col­lapse, so Mr Smith­son is con­tem­plat­ing

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