IMG_8876We paid a visit to an ‘open garden’ under the National Gardens Scheme at the weekend, Oulton Hall, not far from Old School Garden. And we cycled! (about 10 miles in  total).

Home of the Agnew family, originally Oulton Hall was built in the 16th Century, but the present building is Georgian in style and incorporates a yellow brick stable. The house and stable block are surrounded by a garden (or rather gardens) designed by Chelsea medal winner, Clare Agnew.

With a strong overall structure, the gardens are a combination of spaces which together hang together as a delightful country landscape. However, there are several spaces which give a different feel to the place- Mediterranean and more contemporary designs (including ornamental grasses) are well integrated and used to good effect. The journey through the various small courtyards and niches as well as the grander open lawns, wider woodland and lakeside areas was a joy on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

I particularly liked the series of pergolas enclosing an old church font at the centre, overhung with white and lavender Wisteria, creating a quiet, monastic feel (see main picture, above). I also liked the vines trained into ‘parasols’ which, with surrounding features, create a mediterranean atmosphere. There is also a superb, densely planted walk with a seat by a bubbling water feature, illuminated by the sunshine. Certainly a garden where a lot of thought and skill has gone into creating a mix of experiences which aren’t overpowering, with the emphasis on the intimate and restful. Here’s a photo gallery of our visit.

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And  here’s a selection of some of the flowers in bloom when we visited.

Old School Gardener