This warm and sheltered ancient garden in surrey provides the perfect microclimate for a year round display.
Stokes House in Ham lies halfway between Richmond Park and the River Thames, an area that until 150 years ago was full of orchards. The walled garden still contains two ancient mulberry trees, Morus nigra, that drip with fruit every autumn. They may have been planted in the mid-18th century, when the original farmhouse was given a Georgian makeover and renamed Stokes House. Rachel and Peter Lipscomb moved here in 1997, with three or four hundred pots containing snippets of plants propagated from their old garden in East Mosely, Rachel, who is the real gardener of the pair, explains:
"The house has been rented out for seven or eight years, so the garden had fallen into disrepair. When we started digging we discovered the remains of the buildings and paths, so we dug up lots of brickwork and York stone, which we've reused in the garden. The Brick Garden, full of grasses, hemerocallis and nerines, has paths made from the reclaimed brick, and the York stone was added to the terrace."
Once the garden was cleared and the hard landscape laid, Rachel began to create the garden.
"Ham has a semi-rural environment so I wanted a country feel and having mature trees and high warm brick walls helped enormously," she says. "In summer we can't see another house."
It's a real family home and Rachel and Peter's grandchildren make full use of the garden, celebrating birthdays and helping out during open days by taking visitors down their favourite secret pathways.
"They can't come to any harm here. But they can still get lost in the garden," Rachel says.
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