I’ve had West Green House on my list of places to visit for a little while now and finally got to tick it off at the weekend. Situated on the edge of the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire, the stunning 18th century manor house has had its gardens transformed by Australian designer Marylyn Abbott, who leases the property from the National Trust.
On paper, taking kids to gardens sounds interminably dull (for them that is), but our two always really enjoy these outings as there are usually adventures to be had. They led the way as we explored the series of gardens, each with its own distinct character.
After passing through the Dragon Garden with its pagodas and acers, we soon found ourselves surrounded by the quiet beauty of The Garden of the Five Bridges; its meandering pathway and ornate wooden bridges flanked by silvery foliage and irises, which promise a river of blue once they’re in flower. From there to the Lakefield, a meadow of daffodils and cowslips, set against a backdrop of blossom and the ornamental lake.
For the kids, the age-old formula of children + fountains = happiness proved to be a winner yet again as the two of them spent ages leaping from one pond to the next in the Paradise Garden, taking self-timer photos of themselves as they went. The Courtyard Garden with its elaborate topiary and chequerboard centrepiece was reminiscent of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and was the perfect spot to have lunch.
For me though, the restored Walled Garden was the highlight. Striking fruit cages provide focal points in the potager and are surrounded by a decorative combination of vegetables, flowers and brightly coloured obelisks. Against the crumbling brick wall were asparagus and potato beds, edged in woven hazel for a rustic feel.
An arch of apple trees divides the potager from the colourful perennial borders that edge the lawns; a medley of blues and purples, punctuated by clipped trees and hedges that create an air of formality. Gateways hinted at what might lie beyond the walls, and there were benches to be discovered, almost hidden from view; little details that gave a wonderful sense of intrigue.