Tudor treat:

From Nor­man ram­parts to ab­stract art, Tudor Lodg­ings de­liv­ers a dis­tinc­tive twist on the ar­che­typal English coun­try gar­den

EDP Norfolk - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: An­nie Green-Army­tage

An­nie Green-Army­tage vis­its a historic gar­den

It’s not ev­ery gar­den that con­tains a an An­cient Mon­u­ment. Then again, it’s not ev­ery gar­den that sits within a Nor­man set­tle­ment in­clud­ing the ru­ins of a cas­tle built by a com­pa­triot of Wil­liam the Con­queror.

At Cas­tle Acre in West Nor­folk, the gar­den of Tudor Lodg­ings is bor­dered on two sides by mas­sive earth­works, thought to have been put in place by Wil­liam

III de Warenne, grand­son of the orig­i­nal founder of Cas­tle Acre, when he re­planned the set­tle­ment in the mid­dle of the 12th cen­tury. This was a trou­bled time, with Matilda and her cousin Stephen fight­ing for suc­ces­sion to the throne, which may have had a bear­ing on the in­creased for­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Or maybe Wil­liam just en­joyed the medieval equiv­a­lent of play­ing with dig­gers. The Sched­uled An­cient Mon­u­ment sta­tus is a mixed blessing, with the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of its place in his­tory tem­pered by prac­ti­cal con­straints. “We con­sider our­selves care­tak­ers for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions but the restric­tions can be oner­ous,” says Ju­lia Stafford-Allen, owner and pas­sion­ate gar­dener at Tudor Lodg­ings.

“We are pro­hib­ited from dig­ging and burn­ing on the sched­uled mon­u­ment and any tree works re­quire con­sent from a long list of au­thor­i­ties.” Mak­ing a virtue out of ne­ces­sity, Ju­lia and hus­band Gus have cre­ated ar­eas which make the most of the earth­works’ virtues; in the south, a wide sweep of lawn presents an ex­pan­sive view across the deep ditch to neigh­bour­ing coun­try­side, and in the west, a shel­tered wildlife meadow nes­tles within the high earth ram­parts, with a vista up to the medieval tur­rets of the parish church.

The cou­ple moved here with their young fam­ily in 1985, hav­ing in­her­ited the house from a dis­tant rel­a­tive. “She was a great gar­dener,” says Ju­lia.

“And I knew ab­so­lutely noth­ing about gar­den­ing! So I took my­self off to hor­ti­cul­tural col­lege and did a three year part-time City and Guilds.” She also called on the orig­i­nal de­signer of the gar­den, An­thony du Gard Pasley, co-founder of the English Gar­den­ing School, for ad­vice.

“He vis­ited very early on, and at that stage there was a yellow plas­tic sand­pit sit­ting in the mid­dle of the lawn,” re­mem­bers Ju­lia laugh­ing. “What he must have thought I don’t know, but he was very help­ful.”

He en­cour­aged the cou­ple to leave the young yew hedge which they were con­sid­er­ing removing and to fo­cus on cul­ti­vat­ing plants which were al­ready thriv­ing in the chalky soil. He also urged her to plant fewer va­ri­eties in greater num­bers, ad­vice which she has taken to heart.

To­day, great swathes of Cro­cos­mia ‘Lu­cifer’ and Lysi­machia cil­i­ata ‘Fire­cracker’

make a glo­ri­ous shout of colour in the hot bor­der in high sum­mer, com­ple­mented by a new block plant­ing of the grass Panicum vir­ga­tum ‘Shenan­doah’, which will carry on the hot dis­play with its its red-tipped fo­liage later in the sea­son.

Com­bin­ing nat­u­ral­is­tic plant­ing with blocks of colour are a part of this gar­den’s sig­na­ture, cre­at­ing co­her­ence across the many dif­fer­ent plant­ing ar­eas. The ‘Mon­drian’ bor­der next to the house is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple: one of Ju­lia’s more re­cent projects, it is her own take on cre­at­ing a boxedged parterre which isn’t a ‘tra­di­tional lol­lipops in the cor­ner, or a parks and gar­dens plant­ing scheme.

The bor­der echoes the work of artist Piet Mon­drian with his black grids and lim­ited palette of three blocked-in pri­mary colours and fea­tures late-flow­er­ing Laven­der x in­ter­me­dia, Gaura lind­heimeri and Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’, with fluffy Stipa tenuis­sima soft­en­ing the over­all ef­fect.

The parterre’s cre­ation was a jour­ney in it­self. “I planned it in November, when there were some build­ing works in the vil­lage,” says Ju­lia. “I needed to level the ground, so the builders were over­joyed when I took a whole load of top­soil off their hands. Then in Fe­bru­ary we are on hol­i­day and my son pro­poses to his fu­ture wife, and she says yes, and then she sud­denly turns to me and says, could we have the wed­ding at Tudor Lodg­ings? And I say, yes, that would be won­der­ful, and I’m think­ing, it’s look­ing like the Bat­tle of the Somme! Do I grass it over or do I hope for the best and carry on plant­ing?”

She car­ried on plant­ing, and need­less to say, both the wed­ding and bor­der were per­fect.

Since their four chil­dren have grown and left home, Ju­lia has em­braced the gar­den­ing bug whole­heart­edly, com­plet­ing an RHS diploma, and a Masters in gar­den his­tory. She wrote her MA dis­ser­ta­tion in their re­cently ac­quired shep­herd’s hut in the wild­flower meadow. “It got me away from dis­trac­tions; it’s so peace­ful there,” she says. As it catches the evening sunshine, it’s also the gin-and-tonic venue of choice.

As well as tire­lessly cul­ti­vat­ing her own two acres, Ju­lia is county or­gan­iser for the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme in Nor­folk. In 2017, on the 90th an­niver­sary of the NGS, she took it upon her­self to visit 90 open gar­dens within a year. She val­ues the ex­pe­ri­ence as a unique op­por­tu­nity to have seen a huge di­ver­sity of gar­dens which she wouldn’t nor­mally have vis­ited, in­clud­ing an al­lot­ment in North London brim­full of fruit and exotic flow­ers, an ex­ten­sive sculp­ture gar­den, and a night-time city gar­den twin­kling with can­dles.

Back at home, Ju­lia has more or less given up grow­ing veg­gies (‘too stress­ful!’) but flow­ers abound at Tudor Lodg­ings in a pro­fu­sion of im­mac­u­lately tended borders and con­tain­ers. “I love be­ing in the gar­den,” she smiles. “I’ve al­ways been an out­door per­son. I would far rather tidy a bor­der than a cup­board.”

Tudor Lodg­ings is open for the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme, Sun­day, Au­gust 11, 11am- 5pm. Tudor Lodg­ings, Cas­tle Acre, King’s Lynn, Nor­folk, PE32 2AN.

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Sun­rise over the lower field with horse and ad­ja­cent coun­try­side, seen from the Nor­man ram­part, which is part of an An­cient Sched­uled Mon­u­ment mak­ing up the edge of the gar­den

LEFT: View of the house, ter­race and ‘Mon­drian bed’ from the end of the gar­den. Plants in­clude Echinops in the fore­ground and Itea ili­ci­fo­lia against the house wall

BELOW: View of the 18th cen­tury dove­cote with the ‘ bun of boxes’ in front of it (Buxus sem­per­virens), and a mo­saic of pav­ing stones lead­ing to it from the house. Grow­ing in the cracks are vi­o­las, alpine di­anthus, and gera­ni­ums. In the back­ground a pot of Hosta ‘Sum and Sub­stance’ and Rosa glauca. In the lawn is a Ju­das tree (Cer­cis Sili­quas­trum) Red lily Lilium ‘Nerone’

ABOVE: View from the house across the ter­race with its ‘Mon­drian’ knot gar­den, and the lawn to the barn and the coun­try­side beyond as the sun rises. In the fore­ground is lily Lilium ‘Nerone’ and fo­liage of Cer­cis canaden­sis ‘For­est Pansy’ and Cary­opteris x clan­do­nen­sis BELOW: View across the pond to the shep­herd’s hut in the wild meadow area of the gar­den. Fo­liage of yellow flag iris and shrubby wil­lows in the fore­ground

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