Towards the end of June, I visited the gardens at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, for the first time, with my Mum and LO.
The gentleman manning the entrance was exceptionally friendly and charming, setting us up for a very pleasurable visit. From our first steps along the inviting gravel path, lined with immaculately pleached hornbeams, which led us into the gardens, there was an overriding sense of calm and wellbeing.
The dragon garden was a tranquil and serene place, the eponymous dragons flowing along one side of the path, while masses of peonies and a selection of fine acers in equally beautiful containers punctuated the opposite side.
The path continued to skirt around the boundary, through a sequence of different gardens. To our right there were glimpses of a lake, where a swan majestically glided along.
The planting around the lake included flag irises and hosts of unmarked hostas. I later doubled back around the lake and the central areas of the garden which were predominantly laid to grass; the ride was a wonderfully serene corridor enclosed by tall beautifully shaggy beech hedges – mid to late June is a wonderful time in gardens such as this, where everything is soft and green, hedges yet to be clipped are shaggy with growth and there is a real luxurious lushness to them.
The topiary garden from RHS Chelsea 2014 was transplanted here after the show, and exhibited some lovely forms, though sadly much of the box, particularly the central bird, was now spoiled by box blight.
The Garden of the Five Bridges was rather fun, the path winding its way between and across those Chinese style wooden bridges which criss-crossed over the bed of what appeared to be a dried up stream planted with irises; further planting included more hostas and ferns, with clematis climbing over the swags of the bridges.
Water gently trickled from fountains in the Paradise Garden, perhaps my least favourite part of these gardens, seeming a little out of place – perhaps because the garden is bounded only by a slope of grass on one side, which rather spoils the formality. There was a further water garden approached through a wonderful moongate, which worked far better in my opinion.
After all, who wouldn’t love to have a moongate? Hardy geraniums bounded up the steps through the gate, at the feet of beautifully clipped topiary, towards the water garden terrace at the top.
The walled garden was a triumph; first the potager area, beautifully laid out and filled with edibles and ornamentals alike.
Beside the potager, an ornamental area was divided into a lawned quadrant bounded by exuberant planting, which I couldn’t do any justice to with my camera phone (not to mention the impatient small boy wrapped around me).
The flowers were abundant and beautiful though – even these alliums that were going over still packed a punch – with lots of the rich purples and blues that I really love.
Immaculate topiary here and in the courtyard garden where tea was being served.
I loved the drama of the red and green in this area. Sadly, though, when my Mum went to investigate refreshments, she found the staff particularly unhelpful and we continued on without stopping here. When we reached the gravelled area leading back to the shop and entrance, there were a few more tables, and Mum tried once more to secure refreshments, where she again seemed to battle with unhelpfulness from the staff, but this time at least returned with two pots of tea which we enjoyed at a shady table, while eyeing up prospective purchases from the plants on sale.
The shop was well appointed with thriving plants from the Hairy Pot Plant company, and neither of us managed to escape without a couple of ‘essentials’ – for me the lovely Persicaria affinis Darjeeling Red and Echinacea purpurea Magnus, as my seed raised plants from a few years ago have sadly petered out.
Apart from Mum’s disappointment with service in the tea rooms, which I can’t comment further on as I was waiting outside, it was a lovely visit, with gardens that I should very much like to see again. We didn’t quite make it round the greenhouses, though they looked well worth investigating, so I shall have to return. The gentleman on the entrance who took our payment for the plants was once more a pleasure to chat to before we took our leave.