In a new series of blogs for Stalbridge Info Julian de Bosdari of Ashridge Nurseries talks about The Old Rectory at Netherbury - one of Dorset's hidden gems...
One of my Favourite Gardens - The Old Rectory, Netherbury, Dorset
The list is long, Stourhead in autumn is stunning, the kitchen garden at Babylonstoren which may soon be emulated at Hadspen could occupy a visitor for hours with its ingenuity while Kiftsgate, just across the way from Hidcote (not bad itself) has some touches of pure genius.
However, it was a stroke of pure good fortune that brought me to a garden that has since become my favourite. I was driving on a roundabout - but scenic - route to Honiton when the Hare and Hounds at Slape Hill beckoned somewhere around lunch time. So, with some excellent fish and chips and the NGS yellow book before me, my eye lit on the gardens at the Old Rectory in Netherbury. A long mile from where I sat, right in the heart of Hardy's Dorset, and open on a sunny day. Honiton could wait…
The Old Rectory is old, a lovely 16th century building and it has a garden worth a detour when en route to almost anywhere. It is not huge, just 5 acres, but it matches anything I have seen elsewhere. It was planned and made by the most talented of amateur gardeners so everything has been done with love and care and patience. No instant features here. Every plant has been selected with skill and a canny eye. That delicious rose - Felicite Perpetue, a particular Iris (I would guess it is Jane Phillips), the tree peony (P. Rockii), and masses of bulbs – Anemones, mixed Snakeshead Fritillaries, Camassias and crowds more.
When a garden such as this is looked after by the same owners for as long as the Old Rectory has been, it shows. The orchard is a stand of full grown fruit trees surrounded by an established wild flower meadow, There are a number of very large wisteria, the yew hedge with its crenellations is a masterpiece while topiary box and clipped laurel are cleverly used as punctuation marks throughout the gardens.
There is a terrific sense of humour here as well. Words really cannot begin to describe – although I will try – a cunning beech house disguised almost like a minstrel’s gallery looking out over a cathedral of hornbeam hedging … no, really. You have to see it. There are yew shards like pointed witches' teeth while the lovely, and rare, red Tulipa sprengeri flower in masses around and beneath a giant specimen Maidenhair tree near which a mature wedding cake tree rises - like Excalibur - from the bog garden
There are also places to think and rest – essential in any garden – a vast copper beech shading a table and chairs and a weeny Gothic hermit's hovel. And then there is the vegetable garden, almost Mediterranean in style with a fruit cage tented in a way worthy of the Arabian Nights. There are big statements in this garden but they are counterbalanced by the little things. For example, if you are inquisitive – and it is impossible not to be curious in this garden – the paths seem to take you where you want without you really noticing them. And the outdoor gilded clock sounds naff but is perfect.
However, for me at least, the thing about the garden at the Old Rectory that leaves the greatest impression is that it contains so many perfect examples of a type. Just take a look at the formal courtyard with its stunningly symmetrical topiary that combines so well with the scented flowers beneath. Or there is the stillness of the echoing avenues of yew and hornbeam – almost as you can find them in a classic Italian garden. You need to stop and look again at the cunning and very detailed plantings around the bog garden to realise how clever the owners have been while even vegetables become beautiful in the kitchen garden.
I was brought up in Kent in a house with a garden on a slope every bit as steep as the Old Rectory’s and I well remember my parents discussions about how it could be turned into a garden. So I wish I could have been an eavesdropper here in Dorset all those years ago and listened to the skill, imagination and sheer genius that brought this little miracle into being.
Julien de Bosdari is the owner at Ashridge Nurseries near Castle Cary, an online garden centre trusted by many, since 1949. Just click on the button below to visit the website.
About Ashridge Nurseries
Hi, we are Ashridge Nurseries, founded in 1949 with our headquarters outside Castle Cary in beautiful Somerset. Our business is a high quality mail order plant nursery where you can easily buy plants from us online safely and conveniently. We deliver to customers across mainland England, Scotland and Wales and also to the Isle of Wight.
Our high quality products are varied and largely fall under the following categories:
Soft fruit bushes
Here at Ashridge Nurseries we believe that selling plants online well is dependent as much on good gardening advice and excellent service as it is on high quality plants. Our web site provides for you as much information as possible.
We also understand that sometimes you need to speak to a real person who has the answers you need so we believe we have the most highly trained and professional staff in the industry to give you a helping hand when needed. With a combination of quality products, professional service, competitive pricing and a top notch team of experts we think that Ashridge Nurseries is the best online nursery in the UK and actually many of our customers think so too.
...I received my 6 fruit trees which I ordered online. They arrived as arranged and I am absolutely delighted with them. They really are lovely trees. Your customer service is excellent and it has been a pleasure doing business with you. I would not hesitate in recommending you... Lesley Bacon
...Just a quick email to say thank you for the three fruit trees and the fantastic service we had. Ordering, delivery and planting was all done in three days!... Debi and Martin Willis
...I just wanted to send you a quick message to let you know how very impressed I am by the roses that I purchased in the spring. I've grown roses for many years, but the quality and number of blooms on those purchased from Ashridge have surpassed them all. Many thanks!... Mrs M Kelly
You should be delighted...
We think it is critically important that when you order and buy plants online your requirements are dealt with by people who really care that you are served as well as possible. The objective, quite simply is that you should be delighted with the plants and service you get from us and, as a result, return to buy more again and again.
If you need to get in touch you can contact us on:
01963 359 444 or email us at email@example.com
Directors: Julian de Bosdari & Frances de Bosdari