The Old Rectory, Bletchingly is the sort of NGS garden that everyone hopes to stumble across. The property comprises a handsome honeyed stone Georgian house set amidst country meadows and it is hard to believe that the busy M23 and Gatwick airport are a mere stone’s throw away.
Approached via a narrow tree-lined lane, the house appears almost as a surprise as you turn the corner and would not look out of place on the pages of Country Life. The topiary-studded front garden lends a formality to the building and the visitor is guided to the side of the house where a pleached hedge shelters a stone rill planted entirely in shades of lime green.
Turning the corner, the back garden is revealed in all its Italianate splendour. This is topiary heaven, with box parterres, hedges and clipped shapes dominating the garden, all surrounding a central pool where a number of terracotta pots planted with black tree Aeoniums form a dramatic mini-landscape.
Roses spill luxuriantly from the walls at one end of the garden and in another secluded spot, foxgloves soar above their clipped box confines.
A formal lavender lined path of standard white roses leads towards the house where a pergola-covered parterre sits neatly beside the stone terrace where teas were being served.
Beyond the formality, we discovered a mini-arboretum, presumably planted around the same time as the house was being built. Here, towering trees shade giant Gunnera, presided over by a large statue of a stag. The mature trees in the arboretum include specimens such as copper Beech, Catalpa (Indian Bean tree) and best of all, a flowering Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree).
A number of visitors were enjoying teas on the sunny terrace where plants were offered for sale. Teas were being served on dinky vintage china and the homemade cakes were decorated with fresh flowers. (I recommend the ginger cake!).
The Old Rectory, Bletchingly is open on selected days in aid of the National Gardens Scheme. See hyperlink for details.