Review of visit written by Annette Balfour Lynn with photographs by Chris Redston
Old Place Farm
The first visit of our day in Kent was to the garden of Ann and Jeffrey Eker. Ann Eker a dedicated and talented gardener, designed the garden with the help and advice of the flamboyant Anthony du Gard Pasley. The grazing pastures surrounding the farmhouse, have been transformed over 50 years into a garden that is now graced by a lake with weeping willows and a gazebo surrounded by a woodland walk. There are old apples trees cloaked in clematis forming a natural background to herbaceous borders, that have interesting and varied plantings for every season. An immaculate croquet lawn is surrounded by orchards, a nuttery and a wild flower meadow with a delightful duck house overlooking a small pond.
There is a box parterre in the herb garden, which leads into a large hedged flower and vegetable potager and there is extensive use of topiary in the garden along with what is best described as a unique topiary forest.
Owners Mark and Robyn Reeves have created a stunning and unusual landscape with the help of one of our EBTS members, landscape designer Marian Boswall. The cunning design enables the planting and the house to conceal and reveal the view of the valley where the house nestles. The brilliant planting in the garden echoes the views and natural blossom and wildflowers in the wooded fields beyond.
The garden foliage planting is a foil to the colourful abundant summer planting which was in its full glory for our visit. Tree-lined avenues lead to the view and the woods with an octagonal pond with an oak boardwalk, a haven for wildlife. Hedges and shrubs have been shaped to compliment the planting in a naturalistic way.
“An absolutely stunning garden demonstrating sumptuous planting with texture, mood, atmosphere and playfulness. Includes a great synergy of materials and wonderful links between the different areas that give the garden an elegant and calm pace. Fits perfectly into the setting and shows a great attention to detail.”
Charlotte Molesworth and her husband Donald, bought Balmoral Cottage and the land, the previous kitchen garden from The Grange next door, which Cherry Ingram had made famous with his superb collection of flowering cherry trees. Over the past forty years they have managed to create a magical garden of towering topiary, mostly grown from bare yew plants which arrived as wedding presents and box cuttings.
Every twist and turn of the grassy garden paths showcases yet another amazing plant sculpture, with quirky chickens decorating the tops of the hedges and an eclectic selection of shrubs. Charlotte was on hand to show us around and is in great demand for her topiary designs and skills and is also an accomplished artist and her paintings are eagerly collected.