Yesterday I took you around Chawton House Library, former home of Jane Austen’s brother, and today for How Does Your Garden Grow (#HDYGG) I am sharing some pics from the garden. One of the most fascinating gardens I have ever visited.
Andrew, the garden manager, arrived less than a year ago but has already made his mark on the place, whilst still ensuring that the garden stays authentic. When Annie and I visited recently we weren’t expecting any kind of tour but Andrew came over and apologised for not being able to take us around due to other commitments but his wife, Debbie, happened to be there and offered instead. Her knowledge, despite her claiming to the contrary, was incredible and really brought the garden to life in a way that made it easy to imagine the Austen’s had only recently left it.
This, for instance, in the corner of a meadow just looks like a barn. Debbie explained though that it was a 17th century barn moved from its original site in Alton, in a meticulous operation, 8 years ago. The barn had stood on an area of land that Sainsburys wanted to extend their store on to and having seen a preservation placed on the barn had to come up with a plan to save it if they wanted their bigger petrol station. So experts were called in, the barn dismantled, and moved to its new location. Where it looks like it has always been!
Another great story involved the edge of the gardens that border the larger estate. A line of trees “allegedly” leading from the House to a nearby pub so that it was possible to ride a horse there and back and not break any laws on the roads.
17th Century genius
The rest of the gardens were beautiful and it was lovely to hear Debbie speak so passionately about the changes Andrew had already made, as well as the plans for the future. It will be interesting to come back and see them developing.
I can’t resist photographing beehives when I see them. They always remind me of you Hopalong!
One of the most fascinating stories I have ever heard was about a lady called Elizabeth Blackwell who I am going to research and blog about some more because she sounds like an incredible woman.
Her book “A curious herbal” sits in the house library and documents various flowers and plants and their medicinal use. One of the first things Andrew has done is create a garden relating to that book. Four arcs, each relating to a different area of the body, planted with shrubs and flowers that physicians believed to be able to help ailments. I was in awe.
And as I say, Elizabeth’s story is one I will tell you in the next few weeks (I have already bought the books!)
One of the other parts that Andrew has already worked on is The Fernery. Documents suggested there was one present but it took a lot of digging to find it as it was so overgrown and hidden amongst trees. Once Andrew had found it he set about replanting ferns to create an incredibly cool space under the trees, with a bench (cut from a tree in the woods).
There is no hard evidence to say that Capability Brown came to the house but there are lots of areas that were inspired by him. Such as this at the top of the steps leading away from the house.
One of my favourite gardens I ever visited, do let me know if you are going, I might have to come back and join you!