30 June 2011

Pretty border at Ham House

The (almost) straight line of the back of Ham House continues on either side with a tall and wide border that is bursting with greenery offset nicely by flecks of vibrant colour from the bold flowers.

29 June 2011

Stepping down to the garden

Staying with the south side of Ham House, and not moving too far in to the garden, the terrace ends abruptly and gives way to the gravel path that surrounds and crosses the lawn.

The drop does not go unnoticed. The upper level is marked with a row of pots, a narrow border and a lonely bench form the boundary of the lower level and a climbing plants cleverly links the two.

28 June 2011

Ham House looking grand

This is my favourite view of Ham House. I much prefer the clean lines of the back and this side to the clutter of the front and the other side. These are also the two side that catch the sun so they are bright and the generous helpings of white come into their own.

Here too the gardens keep a respectful distance from the house so nothing interrupts the order that the house imposes. The lawns even sink down a meter or so below the rear terrace which makes the position of the house even more commanding and purposeful. The garden is pretty but the house is in charge.

27 June 2011

Rear terrace at Ham House

The main reason that I pop-in to Ham House from time-to-time is for the gardens at the back of the house. The pleasure begins the moment that you walk through the door in the wall near to the shop when a look to the left reveals the broad clean terrace the sweeps along the back of the house and beyond.

To the left on the terrace is a wide colourful border sheltering under the wall and to the left a line of terracotta pots marks the edge of the terrace where it steps down to the large lawn.

The house is almost, but not quite, irrelevant but the little part of it that manages to peek around the trees adds some pleasing straight lines and a shock of white.

26 June 2011

A closer look at Sudbrook Lodge

It's the simplicity and symmetry of Sudbrook Lodge that appeals to me and that is amply demonstrated by this close-up that avoids the unwanted clutter of the road below.

24 June 2011

Classic pond

My final picture from Ham Open Gardens 2011 is once again from the luscious garden at Sudbrook Cottage which was easily the best find of the day. And I've saved the main feature to last.

The round pond in a square hole has classic pretensions and looks old, which I suppose it is as fifty is a lot of pond years. It's all very Capability Brown. Which is good.

23 June 2011

Table, chairs and pots

Even when doing just a simple table and chairs on the lawn, Sudbrook Cottage manages to make something a little special. The circle of stone sets the scene and the ring of plant pots adds the finishing touch.

22 June 2011

Broken seat

I think that this bench is wonderful. I love the rustic stone. I love the shape of and decoration on the backrest. I love the way that the lichen has claimed the seat for them selves. And I love the fact that it has not been repaired or replaced despite the damage that makes it unusable as a seat. It still works perfectly fine as a decoration.

21 June 2011

Long border and other things

Continuing our walk through the garden at Sudbrook Cottage takes us from the sunken area to the main lawn with edged with a wide border of flowers and all contained by an old and pretty brick wall.

Normally all that would be enough to justify appearing here but the attention to detail that is the main characteristic of Sudbrook Cottage plays its part here and within the border there is a hedge protecting a seat and two large stone balls protecting the hedge.

20 June 2011

Sunken garden

Our tour of the garden at Sudbrook Cottage continues with the sunken garden. This sits quietly in the north-west corner of the garden, which means that it captures the sun for most of the day.

Privacy is maintained by the large walls that form the boundary of the garden and by low hedges that define this section. The few steps down to it mean that even the low hedges are sufficient to keep prying eyes away.

Seats within the sunken garden let you linger and appreciate the trees and neat shrubs, as well as the flower borders sheltering under the walls.

19 June 2011

Bench and pots

There is so much to like about the garden at Sudbrook Cottage from the overall design that sweeps the garden smoothly around the house to the many rich details that arrest your gaze as you try to take it all in one.

In this one little part of the large garden we have a need clean bench sitting on bricks with a clutch of complementary white flowers bursting out of the pot next to it and another pot keeping watch from the safety of the border behind.

18 June 2011

Turtle in Ham Pond

It was with some surprise that I first saw a turtle in Ham Pond a few months ago and it slipped back in to the water before I could get a picture. I've been looking out for it every since but with no success until now. It was tempted out by the good weather on to the recently extended island in the middle of the pond to sun itself among the sleeping ducks.

17 June 2011

Garden door at Sudbrook Cottage

The one garden that we all wanted to see at Ham Open Gardens 2011 was Sudbrook Cottage, not least because it was originally created by Beverley Nicholas who wrote about it in his Sudbrook Trilogy starting with Garden Open Today.

The other reason for wanting to see it was the promise given by the front garden there which is small but neat, ordered and colourful.

Entrance to the garden is via a quaint door in the long brick wall that sweeps along Ham Gate Avenue back towards Ham Common. On crossing the threshold the first thing that you notice is the side of the cottage that looks just as pretty as the front garden for all the same reasons.

16 June 2011

Wendy House at Sudbrook Lodge

Sudbrook Lodge has a family garden behind The Old Coach House (which has very little garden itself as a result) that is in stark contrast to the formal garden at the side. The garden is pretty but unspectacular so it was a little difficult to find one picture that captured its essence.

Until I saw the Teddy Bear. The Wendy House is as cute as a Wendy House should be but it made that little bit more special by the close planting that seems to be pulling it in to the garden, the large pot stuffed with flowers and the Teddy escaping through the window in the door.

15 June 2011

Side garden at Sudbrook Lodge

Enjoy this garden while you can as it may be going.

This is the side garden at Sudbrook Lodge that stretches along Petersham Road towards Sudbrook Gardens where a bit of "garden grabbing" has already been done to build the sunken house on the corner there. Plans have been submitted to build another detached house on these gardens.

The side garden is fairly formal and is dominated by a straight path with pergola above and lawns either side. Along the lawns are two borders both backed by tall brick walls. A seat waits at the end of the path for a rare visitor to pause there and to relish the long symmetric view back towards the house.

14 June 2011

Tumbling water

The garden in Bishop's Close is peppered with oriental features, such as an iconic curved bridge that sadly has no water to cross and has to make do with some gravel. But there is some water nearby in this unusual metal fountain. The water tumbles down from one flower to the next making a lot of cheerful commotion as it does so.

13 June 2011

Bench at Bishop's Close

There was a wide mix of houses and gardens on display at Ham Open Gardens 2011 and while Bishop's Close is not at grand as some of its neighbours that does not mean that the gardens there are any less interesting.

I liked the little details in this one, such as this bright white bench against a dark brick wall with just a purple plant in a blue pot for company.

12 June 2011

Stafford Cottages up-close

The pretty front garden at Stafford Cottages sits neatly between The New Inn and Bishop's Close in the North-East corner of Ham Common. The garden is long but not that deep which makes it easy to see and appreciate as you walk past.

The treat that Ham Open Gardens 2011 gave us was to let us in to the garden, to wander its meandering paths and to see the plants close-up and from different perspectives.

11 June 2011

Stone pig

The garden at Hardwicke House is functional rather than pretty and I struggled to take a picture that captures its mood. It is enlivened by some of the current owner's sculptures but I prefer this appealing pig enjoying the sun down by the hens.

10 June 2011

Hardwicke House in May

The white frontage of Hardwicke House makes it a prominent feature on the north side of Ham Common even though it is set well back from the road. It changes a lot through the year looking very bare at times and then comes the shock of pink from the Wisteria followed by the rich greenery of another Spring.

9 June 2011

Paved area at Avenue Lodge

Like most long gardens, Avenue Lodge adds interest by breaking it up with barriers and points of interest. Along the border there are brick pillars topped with flower pots (you can see one on the right of this picture) and at the end of the garden there is a small pond with bird bath and statue.

But what I liked the most was this small paved area about half way down the garden. The grey stone interrupts the green flow of the lawn and is itself interrupted by plants and a pot. The northern boundary of this area is formed by the brick wall that curls away from the boundary and about 2m in to the garden. A large circular hole in the wall makes it both a curiosity and portal on to the rest of the garden.

8 June 2011

Border at Avenue Lodge

The rear garden at Avenue Lodge is long and thin as it follows Great South Avenue towards Ham House. One consequence of this is a long West facing wall and this is an ideal place to show off some flowers.

7 June 2011

Avenue Lodge revealed

Avenue Lodge has appeared here a few times over the years but always from the outside of the tall wall that keeps its secrets. Then Ham Open Gardens 2011 opened the gates here too allowing us a closer look at the house as well as the garden.

6 June 2011

R.I.P. Simon

Simon was a part of Ham Parade for many years sitting and drinking on this bench with his small group of friends at all hours and in all weathers. Now he has gone.

I did not know Simon well at all but I did speak to him a couple of times, many years ago, when he still went to the Hand and Flower back in the days when Tom was in charge.

He was always drunk but never violent, never rowdy and never any sort of problem. He'll be missed.

5 June 2011

Pots and steps

The front garden of the Gate House by Great South Avenue has featured here a few times, most recently in May this year, because of its beauty so the rear garden was one of the ones that I was particularly looking forward to seeing in Ham Open Gardens 2011.

Just like the front garden, the rear garden is rich with detail that pulls your gaze in one direction then another. The flower beds are cute but my favourite section is the raised lawn in a corner between two wings of the house that is approached via some wide steps decorated with pots.

4 June 2011

Shed at Flax Cottage

Flax Cottage has several things in it that make it interesting without being too fussy or cluttered. Among these are several sheds. I lose count but I think it was three or four.

They are all different and this one is my favourite thank to its subtle colouring and the many plants that have made it their home.

3 June 2011

Table and chairs

The rear garden at Flax Cottage is long and (relatively) thin and, like most gardens that shape, it is split in to a number of different sections to disguise its shape. Each of these has something to catch the eye, such as a pond or a statue.

Or a table and chairs. Here you can sit in the shade in the middle of the garden and enjoy the view in both directions.

2 June 2011

Cassel Hospital and Morgans

While the gardens were clearly the main reason for going to Ham Open Gardens 2011 I was not going to miss the opportunity of looking at some of the buildings from a different angle.

From the front Cassel Hospital is a mess simply because it has been turned in to a hospital and, next door, Morgans is a mess simply because it was designed that way. But viewed from behind they present a coherent, orderly and pretty whole.

1 June 2011

Grounds of Cassel Hospital

The first of many pictures from Ham Open Gardens 2011 comes from Cassel Hospital. The hospital itself has a prominent position on the south side of Ham Common. Facing the common is a ramshackle of a building that has its basis in a grand house but which has been added too, not always sympathetically, over the years and carries the wounds of being morphed in to a hospital along the way.

The garden, unseen from the road, is something of a shock. Or would be if not for aerial photography. It's vast. Really vast. And nicely simple too.

A wide path cut in to the grass encourages you to stroll around the edge. Which I did. And this is the best way to appreciate the size of the garden and the tranquillity that a walk in the country brings.