Morton Hall, near Inkberrow in Worcestershire is a private garden set on the edge of an embankment that gives spectacular views across the Vale of Evesham. The eight acres of gardens and grounds have been completely re-designed in the last 10 years by Charles Chesshire into a series of linked garden rooms that lead around the Georgian house. The approach to the house is typically grand, with a sweeping drive flanked by lawns. In Spring, the right hand side of the drive is a mass of bulbs including fritillary, narcissi, tulips, camassia and alliums. In the meadow, a stone Monopteros is positioned to catch the early rays of morning sun.
Starting at the rear of the house, the West Garden sweeps down to a ha-ha where sheep graze peacefully in the field overlooking the valley. A calming blue and white palatte includes lavender, white phlox, roses and white agapanthus spilling across the path.
The kitchen garden is both decorative and useful. Two productive greenhouses burst with tomatoes and grapes whilst courgettes, lettuce, herbs and carrots languish in beds beside flashy marigolds, spectacular deep red dahlias (Chat Noir and Karma Choc), Amaranthus caudatus (love lies bleeding) and bright zinnias. Arches of yellow Clematis (Tangutica Lambton Park and C. Rehderiana) and pots of zingy orange African daisies, salvias and canna lillies add a citrus burst to the towering border bursting with Lilium speciosum ‘Black Beauty’ and pale violet Clematis viticella ‘Emilia Plater’.
A stone archway and iron gate leads to the South Garden, a symphony of Englishness in pastel pinks and purples with splashes of white and zingy green. This garden has all the ingredients of summer, with pure pink roses (Mary Rose, Mayflower), white spires of Cleome and phlox and masses of the lavender-coloured Perovskia atroplexifolia ‘blue spire’. Pyrus salicifolia (pendula) (weeping silver pear) with Clematis clinging to their barks tower over the profusion of planting that froths over the wide York stone paths that surround the lawn.
An enormous chestnut tree and wisteria clad pergola leads to the Rockery, a total contrast to the splashy summer colour of the previous gardens.
In the cool shade of the rockery, invitingly flat grey Kington stone slabs lead the visitor down into the dell amongst the cool green, blue and white planting. Campanula and clematis flow down the slope which is planted with shade loving ferns beneath towering laurel and yew. Half hidden beneath the trees are carved redwood sculptures, arranged as though they have tumbled down the slope.
The path follows through to the Stroll Garden where stepping stones entice the visitor across a dark pool dotted with water-lillies. The bark path, lined with Stipa tenuissima, ferns and bamboo leads towards a second pond overlooked by an enchanting Japanese tea-house. Acer, pine and birch trees surround the water and in Spring, a huge array of Irises and candelabra primulas give a splash of colour to herald the new season.
Morton Hall is open by appointment. A guided tour by the owner or head gardener is offered to groups of 10-24 visitors, followed by homemade refreshments served in the orangery. Bookings are available on Tuesday mornings as well as in the afternoon from Tuesday to Thursday. Morning visits start at 11am and are followed by a light lunch with soups or quiches. Afternoon visits start at 2pm and are followed by an afternoon tea with cakes. For larger group information and all other openings, please see the website http://www.mortonhallgardens.co.uk.
Morton Hall is due to be featured in the September 2017 issue of The English Garden magazine with photographs by renowned photographer Clive Nichols and words by me (Annette Warren).