15 English Country Gardens That Will Take Your Breath Away
What is it about England’s rolling countryside that’s so utterly dreamy? Perhaps it’s that at over the pond everything seems just a little bit grander, even the gardens — especially when they’re brought to life by British landscape designer Arne Maynard. In his first ever book, The Gardens of Arne Maynard, Arne shares the backstories behind his most beloved projects. Even if you don’t happen to live in a castle, a little daydreaming never hurt anyone. Click through to see his most enchanting creations.
Arne moved to this former medieval farmhouse, Allt-y-bela, in 2005. “It is always more difficult to design your own garden than to make one for a client,” he admits. Given the history of the propert, Arne decided a big formal garden wouldn’t suit, but he couldn’t resist planting some of his favorites: roses, topiary, wildflowers and fruit trees.
Sometimes it’s not just the obvious things (like sun, soil quality or water) that can affect how well plants grow in a garden. Even in an old stone path, French lavender managed to seed itself and do unusually well. “The ancient band of cobbles next to the house provides well-drained growing conditions,” says Arne.
The buildings on this property were once stark white, but Arne gave them an orange limewash, reminiscent of an Elizabethan Jewel. “It relates to the countryside in an extraordinary way, emanating great warmth and energy,” he says. Well-groomed topiary, one of his signatures, can be found throughout the property as well.
During the month of June, double geranium ‘gernic’ (also known as Summer Skies) and pink roses bloom continuously along this path leading towards a meadow.
If you’re looking for a little romance in the English countryside, look no further than Haddon Hall. Standing proudly on a limestone slope in Derbyshire, the medieval ‘great house’ is shielded by pretty pink and cream roses.
“We left most of the roses trained on the walls of the house, removing just those that were the wrong color to leave a palette of pink and cream with the occasional shock of orange or apricot,” explains Arne.
Amongst Haddon Hall’s expansive grounds lies a formal garden with a decorative pattern inspired by the home’s diamond-paned windows. Munstead lavender, rosemary and germander form the knot garden’s border, while sweet violets and popular Elizabethan-era plantings fill the center.
While many of the period plantings have a wild way about them, topiary domes nod to Haddon Hall’s stateliness. Both the house and garden are open for visitors, but Arne wanted to maintain an intimate and special feeling regardless. “We kept the paths narrow so that visitors must weave their way through the plants in single file,” he says.
Tucked against the hall’s back wall Arne planted a ‘Dyeing Border.’ “Haddon Hall was famous for its tapestries so this border contains plants that were once used for dyeing the silk threads used in embroidery. Yellow dyes were created using mullien, tansy, cardoon and weld, while woad made blue and St. John’s wort made red.”
According to an old wives’ tale, Haddon Hall’s Dorothy Vernon steps got their name from an heiress who snuck down the steps to elope with her lover in the 16th century. Complete with their original Elizabethan balustrades, the weathered steps let the surrounding green foliage shine.
Proudly perched on the rolling countryside in Devon lies South Wood Farms, which is believed to date back as early as 1210. A lush green courtyard punctuated with masterpiece lupins greets guests. “I wanted the garden to be like a beautiful piece of embroidery around the house,” says Arne.
Guests pass through a charming oak gate as they make their way into South Hill Farms’ courtyard. Arne wanted the gate to feel original so he modeled its lattice design after the banister spindles inside the home. “The carpenter who built the house had a direct hand in the new gates that lead around the garden today,” he says.
Every sprawling country home deserves its own kitchen garden. Here, frames made of young hazel rods form the garden’s gates. “For me, installing a standard gate or an off-the-shelf bench represents a lost opportunity; instead I’m looking for uniqueness, and for elements that connect a garden to its location,” Arne says.
The Guanock House was built in 1699 in a flat field in Lincolnshire. On one side of the house, Arne decided to leave the vast cornfields rather than planting a garden. “I love the way the building appears to rise out of a sea of winter wheat,” he says.
On the other side of the Guanock House, Arne planted a lush garden full of veggies. “In the spring, the walled kitchen garden is much warmer than everywhere else, meaning I could get on and garden much earlier in the season than the neighbors,” he says.