Summer Garden Visit:
Highlights of our visit to “Folly Farm"
Berkshire Gardens Trust was privileged to enjoy tours of this highly regarded Grade II* garden on a lovely summer’s day with Tim Stretton, Head Gardener, Rachel Roncon, Assistant Head Gardener and Simon Goodenough, Estate Manager.
The gardens were originally laid out by Sir Edwin Lutyens with Gertrude Jekyll planting in the early 20th century following a commission to extend the original 17th century timber framed farmhouse into what is essentially an Arts and Crafts house. The current owners have overseen work on the wider, informal landscape and a revitalisation of the original Lutyens formal gardens with 21st century planting by Dan Pearson.
The formal gardens are now approached through a rural landscape setting of woodland and wild flower meadows, with a pond and restored watercourse (which channels the natural springs used for watering and storage in the Tank Cloister garden). A wind garden containing various specimen grasses in geometric beds heralds the transition between the styles.
Within the formal gardens the Dan Pearson planting complements Lutyens’ original features and reflect Jekyll’s ‘drifts’ of colour, with a mixture of planting, textures, shapes, and colours. The yew-hedged formal ‘garden rooms’, in particular, create a big impact and were a veritable feast for the eye. The Sunken Pool Garden, inspired by the game of Ludo from Lutyens’ time in India, has a ‘hot’ colour scheme with a central bed of five varieties of Kniphofia from pale oranges through to reds. There is also a ‘top-down’ viewpoint from the four corner benches at the top of Lutyens’ ziggurat Portland stone steps. The richly planted borders of the adjacent Flower Parterre include tapestry-like purples, the reds and pinks of salvias, feathery astilbes, punctuated by small trees such as the snowdrop tree (Halesia carolina) and cornus, while the raised White Garden to one side of the garden is more compact though still full of textures.
The square-acre Walled Garden is a productive garden to envy! Fully organic, its quadrants are laid out to a new design as no Jekyll planting plans were available, punctuated by gazebos. The mixture of flowers reflects Jekyll’s colours, while there are also espaliered and wall-climbing fruit trees, a huge range of vegetables, hop poles emerging from wonderfully productive raised beds, herbs including collages of flowering thymes. Other nice touches were the camomile and english marigolds providing scent and colour near the Drying Room, the contents of which were hung artistically. Beyond the main walled garden is a generous potting shed and packed greenhouses used for propagation and pelargonium displays, as well as a restored Edwardian ‘hothouse’ with lush ferns.
After viewing this amazing garden, we tucked into a sumptuous tea made by the estate’s chef. We would like to thank the entire Folly Farm team for a wonderfully informative and delightful visit to this beautiful garden.
Both photographs: Copyright Folly Farm
The formal rectangular Dutch canal and its flanking lawns are precisely edged and complemented by simple planting. A view of the house is reflected from above one end of the canal, thanks to the restored viewpoint which was key to the original Lutyens design. The overall impression is an almost monastic atmosphere in contrast to the more densely planted garden areas.