The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Gardening - THIS WEEK: WOLLER­TON OLD HALL

Six months ago, at mid­sum­mer, the rose gar­den at Woller­ton Old Hall in Shrop­shire was brim­ming with colour, its bor­ders bil­low­ing with pink and white roses and the path be­tween them al­most buried in sprawl­ing mauve nepeta. Now, at the win­ter sol­stice, the turn­ing point of the year, it is quiet and still – al­most frozen in time. A study in sym­me­try, clipped box cones in ter­ra­cotta pots frame the view down the path to the clas­sic oc­tag­o­nal sum­mer­house at the far end, where taller box spi­rals stand sen­try to ei­ther side. Af­ter a hard overnight frost the roses in the bor­ders, await­ing their an­nual win­ter prune, are del­i­cately out­lined in frost – the odd late bloom stiff and sparkling as if dipped in su­gar. And the nepeta, fol­low­ing its an­nual cut­ting back in Au­gust, is back un­der con­trol – for now. It is cu­ri­ous to con­sider that, as the Earth turns on its axis and the day­light hours slowly be­gin to lengthen, slowly, in­vis­i­bly and in­ex­orably the gar­den will em­bark once more on the long up­ward path to its sum­mer­time peak.

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