Homes & Gardens
HEAVEN SCENT Much-cherished roses are at the centre of this enchanting garden, blending a wild and romantic atmosphere with more formal elements
Designer Arne Maynard has created an enchanting and fragrant blend of formal and wild in the garden of a rectory in Dorset
The roses were the first thing that Emily Cave noticed about the Old Rectory at Litton Cheney in Dorset when she viewed the house in
2009. ‘The pale pink blooms of the old climbing rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ scrambled over the front of the house,’ she says. ‘It was so relaxed and inviting. Roses have been our tie with this place ever since.’
Dating back to 1780, the rectory is situated on the side of a hill in the Bride Valley, just a couple of miles from Chesil Beach. Formerly owned by the artist, engraver and stone carver Reynolds Stone and his wife Janet, who was a photographer, the garden sweeps down the hillside to woodland with lush ferns, natural springs and shady pools. Among the wildness you’ll now find roses, too. ‘I plant roses wherever I can, including ramblers in the woodland to break up the green canopy,’ says Emily. The rest of the garden has more formal touches, with topiary, a walled garden and a kitchen garden.
Emily, who shares the house with antiques dealer husband Richard and their three children, found the property after seeing an ad in Country Life. After renovating the interiors, the Caves turned their attention to the grounds. ‘I attended a course with the garden designer Arne Maynard at Allt-y-bela in Monmouthshire,’ says Emily. ‘I loved the way he had created a garden there that blended seamlessly into its surroundings. So we invited Arne to visit and he instantly understood what could be achieved.’
A plan was soon in place. ‘We wanted to keep the charm of the natural informality while adding formal topiary around the rectory, a hedge of loose clipped box that mirrors an existing hedge on the other side of the lawn and pleached crab apples that give us so much pleasure throughout the year, especially the blossom in spring,’ says Emily. The woodland garden has a natural swimming pool. ‘Arne helped us restore it, adding an internal dry stone wall to create a planting bed for aquatic plants,’ says Emily.
Prompted by her love of roses, Emily opened her business Rosa Cheney. ‘I grow old-fashioned scented roses, supplying florists including Flora Starkey, plus farm shops and hotels. I also arrange roses in antique jugs and vases as “welcome flowers” for local holiday lets,’ explains Emily.
Beyond the kitchen garden is a gate leading to a meadow. On the upper slopes are the rose cutting beds. ‘It’s designed to have continual interest. I planted rugosa and myrtle hedges, and bed of Alchemilla mollis with lavender,’ says Emily. ‘Inspired by Constance Spry, hurdles have been put in place against the steep banks, held in position by wooden pegs – these become walls of roses and are one of the most lovely sights in the garden.’
The Old Rectory garden is one of contrasts, blending formal elements with areas that have a wilder feel. The much-cherished roses are the thread that runs through it and pulls everything together.
The Old Rectory is open through the National Garden Scheme. Check details at ngs.org.uk
“ON A SUMMER’S DAY IT FEELS MEDITERRANEAN WITH THE SCENT OF ROSES, IRISES AND PHILADELPHUS” OWNER Emily Cave
“THE DAPPLED SUNLIGHT BRINGS A PLAYFUL LIGHTNESS TO THE WOODLAND. YOU WANT TO DIP YOUR TOES IN THE SPRING-FED WATER”
OWNER Emily Cave
ORIENTATION Situated on a long narrow shelf with hill above and woodland below.
SOIL TYPE Chalk downland meets outcrops of green sand and clay in woodland.
SPECIAL FEATURES Formal front garden, natural swimming pool, woodland garden, walled garden, kitchen garden, orchard with ground-cover roses and cut rose business (rosacheney.com and via cavedecorativearts.com in London).
GARDEN DESIGN Arne Maynard Garden Design (arnemaynard.com)