Cocktails on the Terrace and Rabbits on the Lawn at Tylney Hall Hotel, Hampshire

When a friend says to you “I have a plus one invitation for a weekend at a Spa Hotel, to review their gardens, would you like to come”? I don’t suppose many of you have to think twice before saying “Yes please”? I didn’t hesitate either.

Where did we go? Tylney Hall Hotel, Nr Hook in Hampshire.

The majority of photos I took this morning before Breakfast, the birds were singing their hearts out and there were rabbits everywhere.

We have been so lucky with the weather – it has been glorious, perfect for wandering around woodlands full of rhododendrons and azaleas and listening to the tranquil streams running through the Water Garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1906.

Tylney Hall is a Grade II listed house, rebuilt in 1898. From 1948 it was school until 1984 and Elite Hotels opened Tylney Hall as a hotel in 1986. The Hotel’s impressive gardens are looked after by a team of 6 gardeners, with Paul Tattersdill as Head Gardener, and are open for the National Garden Scheme 1 April, 27 May and again on 14 October.

We arrived on Saturday to join our party for a splendid lunch, with wine of course:-

Tartare of Salmon and Soured Cream served with Carpaccio of Cucumber

Pineapple and Tylney Mint Sorbet

Rack of New Season Spring Lamb served with Fresh Seasonal Vegetables and Tarragon Broth

Strawberry and Basil Shortbread served with Sweetened Mascarpone

This was followed by a guided tour by Paul who has been looking after the garden for 25 years. We started with the Italian Garden which is approached from the Terrace by impressive stone stairs and balustrades heavily laden with heady Wisteria.

As we walked through the garden we saw a number of hotel rooms which have been renovated from the estate buildings. I love the idea of staying within the grounds of a hotel, especially on Summer evenings (and early mornings) when you can amble around the gardens at your leisure.

There are rooms in the old terraced cottages, with a very pretty pergola running up the middle of the garden in front of them. The roses were just coming out, and I was informed that they are New Dawn, Albertine and two other pinker roses (although I have been very remiss and can’t remember what they are called).

Next to these cottages is the original kitchen garden, these days it has fruit bushes. The greenhouses are still in use and at the moment the gardeners are busy planting up hanging baskets for the Hotel. This part of the garden also has borders of wonderful Irises.

The other rooms, outside the main hotel building, are in the old Orangery. These are two storey suites with a lounge downstairs and views over the water garden. Definitely somewhere I would like to choose for that very special romantic break. (If only!!)

As we walked back to the Hotel, late Saturday afternoon, we passed the outdoor pool busy with residents sunning themselves and cooling off in the water. I went back again this morning about 8:00 a.m. to take some photos minus people. It has such pretty surroundings, approached by steps which, similar to the Italian Gardens, have Wisteria around them.

Our Saturday evening started with cocktails on the Terrace as we watched the rabbits on the lawn. Then, still on the Terrace, we drank Pouilly Fume, and plate after plate of delicious buffet food arrived including duck and pork rillette, spicy chicken kebabs and a selection of continental meats to mention but a few. It was a very civilised end to a most relaxing day.

The great thing about the garden at Tylney Hall is that you don’t have to wait for another NGS open day, or stay there to visit the garden. How does afternoon tea on the Terrace sound to you? The teas at Tylney Hall look something very special – sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and cakes all on a tiered plate and champagne if you feel so inclined. You can then walk it off around the grounds at your leisure.

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    Two little boys did not spoil my visit to Vann Garden

    Deep in the heart of the Surrey Hills near the beautiful village of Chiddingfold, down a narrow country lane, you will find Vann, a 16th timber farmhouse surrounded by a garden that is open on a few weekends in the year through the National Garden Scheme and every Wednesday from April to July.

    The property was bought by W D Caroe in 1907 and over 100 years later the Caroe family are still resident; it is the present day Caroe family who tend to the garden.

    We visited Vann on Sunday, yet another damp and cold day in a long stretch of wet weeks. The signs asked us not to park on the side of the road and please use the car park, this was a designated field next to Vann but due to the wet ground it was closed. We had to drive down the road to find a suitable lay by and walk back. The unmanned entrance was left to the honesty of garden visitors with a yellow NGS money box and a roll of tickets.

    Due to the poor lighting and the drizzle I had trouble getting enough light for the photographs, so I apologise if they appear a bit dark – despite being tweaked a little through editing.

    At the front of the house, the original part of the garden has Yew hedging and herbaceous borders, given over this time of the year to Spring plants and a mass of Forget-me-nots wherever you look.

    In respect to the wet lawn we kept to the path that ran around the edge of the house. I did feel that I was intruding somewhat as we walked passed the dining room, where friends and/or family were being entertained with Sunday Lunch, this was exacerbated as we turned the corner, passing the kitchen when “Stop being nosy” was shouted at us through the window by two small boys, followed by heaps of giggles.

    In front of us was the much photographed pergola which can be found on a majority of websites about Vann Garden. This is made of Bargate Stone with timber across the top and is underplanted with euphorbias, hellebores, ferns, pulmonaria, hemerocallis and Spring bulbs, which I suspect are replaced during the Summer months with other bulbs. The pergola runs from the house down to the pond.

    We then made our way to the Water Garden. Gertrude Jekyll was a neighbour, living nearby in Munstead Wood, and in 1911 she was asked to design a water garden for Vann. Using a series of small pools from the larger pond, this particularly tranquil part of Vann has stepping stones, little bridges and is planted with shade loving plants. The bluebells were coming out and occasionally the whiff of Wild Garlic floated by.

    At this point I was wishing I knew how to use the video on my camera, the birds were singing away and were wonderful to listen to. Please use your imagination when looking at the photos below and listen to the bird song.

    The path took us to the other side of the pond, facing the back of the house and the lawn. I particularly liked the glass baubles, one of the few carefully placed garden ornaments set about the garden.

    At the end of the pond is the Yew Walk, with a rill and small stream that feds into the pond. Either side of the rill are Spring flowers and yet more Forget-me-not froth. I wonder if you can have too many Forget-me-nots, they did seem to be everywhere.

    Standing tall and proud above the sea of blue foam were very dark, almost black tulips, the contrast of the two colours was lovely.

    At the far end of the Yew Walk, were two little trees, which on close inspection turned out to be cleverly pruned Wisteria. It was an interesting way to see this as usually it is trained to climb over pergolas or up houses.

    A gap in the hedge took us through into the Orchard, vegetable garden full of artichokes and very healthy looking raspberry canes under a large net covering.

    I smiled when I saw the side of the greenhouse, with its broken pots and the general garden detritus that we all accumulate. It looked somewhat out of place juxtaposed with a carefully mown lawn and an interesting wavy wall neatly planted at the base with iris and euphorbia. I later learned that the wall is known as a Serpentine or Crinkle Crankle Wall. Initially designed for planting of fruit trees and always built east-west it captures the suns rays.

    The other side of the greenhouse is a lawn with a bench set on glass bottle bottoms and hedging set at each of the four corners of the lawn. It was unusual and I felt was a bit odd but life would be boring if we liked everything we saw.

    I liked the variety at Vann, it is very much a garden that you can come away from with ideas and I will certainly return in the Summer because I suspect it will look very different.

    Vann Garden is open again on Sunday 10 June to Sunday 17 June from 10:00 to 18:00 and, of course, every Wednesday until July 2012. There are no refreshments available and the old-fashioned outside toilet is worth a visit – even if it is just to read the poem on the door!

    Copyright Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond 2012 and AarTee Photography 2012

    Upwaltham Barns, Sussex – A National Garden Scheme garden

    Yesterday, my erstwhile friend MB and I went NGS garden visiting.  It was a miserable, cold and windy Sunday, so we wrapped up warm and headed off to Upwaltham Barns.  Note the fact I didn’t say wet.  We are still waiting for a good drenching rainfall.  However, it would have made walking around gardens not so enjoyable, so this time I was glad it remained dry.

    Set in the heart of the Sussex Downs between Chichester and Petworth, close to the Goodwood Estate, Upwaltham Barns are a series of  17th Century Sussex Flint barns which have been restored and are now used as a wedding venue.  There is a series of gardens planted with a cottage garden theme, together with a good sized vegetable garden.

    As you will see from these photos, the sky was grey and the lighting was not brilliant, so the colours are not as vibrant as they would have been on a sunny day.

    On either side of the entrance there was a deep border packed with all types of country garden perennials including Roses, Nepeta,  and Poppies.

    We were directed through a long narrow barn, which was being used as the tearoom.  Some delicious looking cakes adourned the tables, and after our walk we did return and I had a slice of lemon cake and MB had his usual choice of chocolate cake, together with large cups of tea to warm up.  Anyway, on with the garden. The cottage that faced us, had a glorious Delphinium border and I loved the pots on the steps going up to the front door.  As we left this part of the garden, I had to take a photo of the awesome Peonies.

    We wandered around the little side garden of the cottage, muttering that we were not at all impressed, although quiet pretty.  As we left that garden and saw the large NGS yellow arrow.  Whoops! We realised this was a private garden, although there was no sign to say so.

    The Walled Garden borders were packed with purple Alliums, Aquilegia and Clematis. Everything was in a purple to pink colour theme.  The planting was either over or nearly over and I wondered what was going to take its place in June and July when most gardens are at their peak of colour.  Looking at what was growing, I suspect that the colour scheme will be yellow and orange.

    Turning to look down the garden, there was a ‘room’ with planting edged in Box, and beyond  was a path lined either side with trees and lavender beds to the side of them.

    The gravel path lead us on to the vegetable garden, which was filled with every type of vegetable and fruit.   We did notice that it was desperately in need of weeding in some parts but with so much garden to care for, you can’t expect perfection.   This was a working garden, not a show garden.   With a marvelous view of the South Downs, and despite being in a very open and windswept position, it would make gardening there great anytime.

    Now thoroughly chilled we headed back towards the tearoom for cake and hot drinks.  The last part of the garden, which is a work in progress, had a splendid display of Patty Plum poppies and a very colourful circular bed, looking slightly out of place at the moment,  in the middle of what I assume eventually will be a lawn.

    Maybe it was because it was cold and windy and things were just going over, at the time we were not overly excited about the garden, it had something missing, but we couldn’t quite pin it down, something to do with the feel of it.  Now I have written this post, and viewed the photos, I think I may have changed my opinion.  It really is very nice and full of well known popular plants, the kind any one of us would have in our gardens.  Like most things,  they tend to look better when the sun shines. A lot of work has gone into this garden and it deserves recognition.