It is such a truly awful day here in Highgate – charcoal grey skies, pouring with rain, thick-cardigan cold – that it seemed the right moment to report on my extremely soggy visits last week to the wonderful gardens at Cothay Manor and Mapperton House in Dorset.
I was staying my my keen gardening friend, Sarah Stacey whose lovely Dorset garden I have raved about before and who has provided us with some wonderful pictures of Dorset in the spring. She had lined up these two stunning gardens for us to visit – and surely mid August should have been the right time to do so. Some chance! The weather was not as bad as today in that it was drizzlingly heavily as opposed to sheeting down – but the sun sure wasn’t splitting the stones. However, we decided that we were British and were not going to be put off by a bit of rain. So we donned the wellies and sou’westers and set off. First to Cothay.
Cothay Manor was built around the end of the 15th century and has remained stunningly untouched. The house was not open because of COVID but, for those who are interested, there is an excellent article in Country Life with lots of pictures of the house and the gardens – in the sun… (The house and gardens are currently on the market – if you happen to have £5 million to spare. Let us hope that they go to another sympathetic owner.)
The main features of the gardens are a yew and acacia walk lined with tulips in the spring and catmint through the summer…
…and a series of wonderful rather wild and woolly ‘rooms’, separated by what felt like miles of yew hedges pierced by doorways and secret lunettes.
And then through one ‘doorway’ one emerged onto the banks of a small river running round the house.
And actually – it felt rather wonderful in the rain. We were dry and warm inside our wellies and sou’westers and the plants were obviously so enjoying the generous drink.
So, maybe enough for today. Tomorrow I will take you to Mapperton – where it was also raining, just as hard as at Cothay, but by that time were were hardened…..