If you happen to live in Northamptonshire or Oxfordshire you may possibly have heard of Wappenham, but I would like to bet that not many people know of this village’s existence. It’s a tiny village – sadly no pub or shop but what it does have is a number of jolly nice gardens.
We were visiting as part of the NGS village gardens open day – for the princely sum of £7 you get to tour six beautiful village gardens with the bonus of tea and cake in the village hall.
Unfortunately the rain chose to not stay away on Sunday and the hopeful field set aside for parking was largely unused with visitors trying to park as close to the gardens as possible (well we did forget our umbrella!).
Most of the houses are built of the local limestone and sprawl in an attractive way along the main street. The first house we visited, Elm Lodge farmhouse set the bar high, with a glorious garden designed by James Alexander Sinclair. Formerly a neglected farmyard, the space has been brilliantly planted. The entrance was bursting with plants spilling across the stone path beside the house. An unexpected swimming pool has been cleverly sunken into the former farmyard and then another surprise to the rear of the house with superbly clipped box shapes leading to a less formal part of the garden boasting fruit and vegetables.
The next house was equally as enchanting; Beeches House with its curious two-toned stone façade which came about when the house was redesigned to face a different direction. I’m always fascinated by old houses and you could clearly see where windows had been bricked up on the church facing side. Previously home to George Gilbert Scott, the front garden of the house comprises simple box edged beds either side of the central stone path. To the side of the house, an enchanting finger post points the visitor to the orchard or to the garden. We chose garden first and were rewarded with a formal garden with newly installed greenhouse and two very inviting pink deck chairs! The garden led onto the orchard, wonderfully wild with mown paths through knee high grass.
Wappenham Manor, another garden to credit James Alexander Sinclair with the design was next, it’s grand sweeping drive bordered by two crown shaped parterres with a central water feature. June has certainly been a good month for the roses and here two prolific climbers were literally dripping with blooms. A pleached lime walk led to the tidy potager which hopefully might inspire visitors to try & grow their own produce.
Onwards to Stone Cottage, a compact & charming garden brimming with roses. Space had been maximised by cleverly creating a roof garden on top of the garage!
Our final garden to visit was Home Farm, a walled garden with arboretum (with tulip tree!) & friendly horses grazing in the paddock. Glorious far reaching views are the outstanding feature of this spacious garden, I always think the borrowed landscape is just as important as the garden itself.
Our tour was cut short by the deluge of rain so we missed out on Pittams Farm, which was a shame. We also missed out on tea and cake as we were soaked through! I’m sure that the visitors who braved the rain were well rewarded though.