In an English country garden
How Ben Pentreath and Charlie McCormick restored their old parsonage garden in Dorset into a beautiful – and bountiful – English classic. By Sarah Raven
On our arrival there are scones for breakfast – made by New Zealander Charlie. And for lunch, just-picked salad with broad bean tips, poached salmon and herby home-made mayonnaise, served in a roomful of Lilium regale in vases. Why is it that the non-English do classic English so much better than we do?
The architectural and interior designer Ben Pentreath, 44, moved into the Old Parsonage eight years ago. It’s a lime-rendered 1820 house in a village in West Dorset, two miles from the coast and to the east of Bridport. Over three or four years, Pentreath restored the house and garden, but with the ballooning success of his business, he was overwhelmed by the split London/ Dorset life and the garden suffered.
Two years ago, he met his nowhusband, Charlie McCormick, who rapidly took over. Ben says, “When I was very first introduced to Charlie, I suspected that something might work between us – I’d never known anyone else before whose idea of a happy Sunday was a day of garden visiting and junk shopping.”
Charlie was brought up on a farm in New Zealand. His grandfather was a passionate veg gardener and his granny keen on cut flowers and arranging. He spent time in their garden all through his childhood and in his teens started showing flowers and veg at local horticultural shows in Canterbury, New Zealand.
McCormick – now 26 – has carried on growing and gardening ever since, moving to England six years ago. He works as a florist, mainly doing large flower installations for events.
As with all the best florists, one of the characteristics of McCormick’s
Blooming: Ben Pentreath and Charlie McCormick in their Dorset garden