2 stunning Upper Farringdon gardens you can visit under the National Gardens Scheme

PUBLISHED: 16:13 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:14 08 May 2017

The picture postcard Thatched Cottage

The picture postcard Thatched Cottage


Leigh Clapp visits two neighbouring gardens in Upper Farringdon, lovingly created by their owners and billowing with abundant planting, both open to visitors under the National Gardens Scheme

In the little village of Upper Farringdon near Alton, you will come across the rather remarkable Victorian Massey’s Folly and nestled nearby two pretty gardens at the neighbouring properties of The Thatched Cottage and Berry Cottage that open through the National Gardens Scheme. 

The Thatched Cottage

Clipped sructure adds formality at the Thatched CottageClipped sructure adds formality at the Thatched Cottage

Cally and David Hornton downsized to the The Thatched Cottage seven years ago from a larger property in Oxfordshire, falling for the charming potential of the house and garden and also the area. “It had been rented out for ten years and was described by our neighbours as unloved. Previous owners had laid out the garden and opened it for charity, but ten years of neglect had taken its toll. Shrubs had become trees and flowerbeds choked with hardy geraniums, weeds and moss. However some of the trees have grown into magnificent specimens and are much admired,” Cally explains. After renovating the house, which included replacing the thatch, attention turned to the garden with clearing and watching what would pop up through the first season, as well as installing a greenhouse so they could do their own propagation.

“The basic structures were already there and we enjoyed discovering them, adding our own and planting, planting, planting. We don’t have a particular style. We worked on what was already here and have created a ‘relaxed garden’ – pretty well anything goes,” says Cally. Gradually the garden evolved with curvaceous herbaceous borders fringing expanses of lawn, clipped shrubs lending a hint of formality, pergolas draped with roses and clematis, as well as expansive, productive beds. “We plant all the usual vegetables that we like and freeze where possible, however there always seem to be far too many seeds in a packet so my top tip is to sow sparingly and in succession and keep the seeds so they can be used next year perhaps with reduced germination,” adds David. A quirky touch is provided by an old gypsy caravan, a birthday gift for Cally from David.

Berry Cottage

Clematis smothers an arch at Berry CottageClematis smothers an arch at Berry Cottage

Phyll Watts’ family has been in Hampshire for 400 years and in 1969, at the age of 17, she inherited the Elizabethan Berry Cottage from her great aunt. It wasn’t until about 15 years later that she became interested in gardening and began her passion for plants. Over the years Phyll has created a billowing organic cottage garden in sympathy with the house, with colour themed borders and many unusual plants. The third-of-an-acre is planted for year-round interest, from spring bulbs, through roses, clematis and herbaceous to autumn foliage. “I do like bulbs, including small gladioli nanus varieties and I have also planted a hot border this year, with salvias, crocosmias, rudbeckias and dahlias,” adds Phyll.

There is little grass as most of the area is a tapestry of closely planted effervescent hardy and half-hardy perennials, and the odd annuals. “I come from a family of gardeners and a garden completes the picture, but it needs to be controlled and cared for,” Phyll explains. She also offers a tip: “When starting your cottage garden go for easy plants and look around locally to see what grows well.” At each opening Phyll puts the ‘star’ flower for the day on a small blackboard, and shares her knowledge of its growing conditions. With open days through spring and summer and also by arrangement, make sure this pair is on your list this season.

When to visit

The Thatched Cottage and Berry Cottage, Upper Farringdon, Alton, GU34 3EG - Sundays May 21, June 11, July 2, Aug 13 (2-5.30)

Also open by arrangement May to September. See The National Gardens Scheme website for details at ngs.org.uk

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