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