Bourton House Garden…wonderful plants but somehow…

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Borrowed landscape, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

In our whirlwind tour of gardens in the Cotswolds, Shropshire/Herefordshire and Sussex/Kent, we covered many miles in a comparatively short time.  By the time we got to our third garden on Day 2, we had a ‘nose’ for what we liked and didn’t, and our opinions were strengthening.  On the face of it, Bourton House Garden should have been a winner.  It has a beautiful position overlooking fields and a rolling landscape that probably has hardly changed in the 300 years since this gracious, part sixteenth, part eighteenth century house was built.   And, some to-die-for planting could be seen.  Here are some of the plants that grabbed my attention…

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Abutilon ‘Ashford Red’, Bourton House Garden, June 2017 photo credit: Colin Massey

Abutilon ‘Ashford Red’ wove its way through the hot colours in some of the borders- what a gorgeous colour and spectacular presence this plant has- I adored it.  Not hardy sadly, but I am on the hunt for one, it is not to be resisted.

This Abelia floribunda, which I think is the correct identification, is a bit of a rarity.  Tenderness may be the reason, but this cerise-pink sharpness ran through several border areas with emerald green foliage at a very handy 1.5m or so, height and width.  It is a sumptuous plant, from Mexico originally, and needing a fair bit of water and a protected situation, and no frost.  Which rules it out for me really, but to be totally admired.

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Abelia grandiflora, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

This was a real charmer, Trifolium pannonicum, just around 0.5m tall and weaving in and out of the borders, a bit like a clover on drugs, but very pretty and apparently easy, so I may well give this a try if I can get seed.

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Trifolium pannonicum Hungarian clover, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

I have puzzled over this plant!  Looks like a cross between a Honka Dahlia and a Leucanthemum, but no hard and fast identification yet…any ideas?  Very pretty and quite striking especially as a splash of white in amongst darker plants.  Probably only about 0.5m tall max…Chloris, thank you, says Argyrantheum frutescens

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Argyrantheum frutescens, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

An ambitious planting of Echium pininana had been a tad disrupted by super-hot temperatures and a windy day, but the remains were very impressive all the same.

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Echium pininana, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

There was a lovely shade house with some very unusual plants to be seen.  I have had a go at identifying all three of these plants, but I am not there yet.  Here they are, as mystery plants.  Top left plant has tiny leaflets growing in the centre of those beautiful leaves, top right has what look like cream berries growing in bunches under the leaves and the bottom one, doing a good impression of Deinanthe, has strange red-tinted bladders which can just be seen in amongst the leaves.

And the mystery is partially solved, thank you Chloris- the bottom plant is the very extraordinary Amisia zygomeris

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Podyphyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

Cutting to the chase, so there were some very lovely borders.  And some beautiful topiary and a faultless knot garden.  But the trouble was- total horticultural perfection does not a garden make.  It felt as if it had been made by computer or a robot without a human hand in sight.  This was not just me going off in a mood, we all four of us pretty much expressed the same sentiment when we exchanged thoughts half way round.  Somehow, it had no soul, no spirit about it. It really did leave us cold.  So, personally, I would carry on to Snowshill Manor if you are in the vicinity.  Of which more later.

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The Parterre topiary.  Yes, well.  Bourton House Garden, June 2017

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Immaculately planted shady border, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

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The Knot Garden, but why, oh why, the blue herons?, Bourton House Garden, June 2017

5 thoughts on “Bourton House Garden…wonderful plants but somehow…

  1. I guess we often puzzle over why others do things differently than we might. I can see your point, but I find it awfully hard to criticize any artistic endeavor. The mystery plant is very interesting…the clue for its identification might be found in its foliage.

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    • Hi…your comments left me really thinking about what it is that I value in a garden! Because as you say, artistic endeavour is important and to be encouraged, and I guess I wouldn’t fault Bourton House for effort in that department, as well as lot of success in interesting plant choice- especially the three that I have no idea about! But, I think that probably for me, a garden works because it speaks to me of what someone is trying to do or to express- so my next garden, Snowshill Manor, really did that- so for me, there is something more important than perfection…in fact, perfection may not be in the picture at all…thanks Marian for the prompt!

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  2. I agree there are some places–man made or nature made–that make our hearts sing. And that’s a great way to develop our own aesthetic. When I lead garden tours, though, I tell the group to resist the urge to give a thumbs up or thumbs down, because once you make a judgement, you put on mental blinders. The way to learn, whether you’re exploring a garden or a painting, it to try to understand the intent, because art can be more than a thing of beauty.

    All of that aside, I love your first photo with the borrowed landscape and clematis covered wall. And you are right about the blue heron, it is a spoiler.

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  3. Thanks for the tour of Boughton House garden, it’s one I would like to visit.
    Your mystery white flower is Argyrantheum frutescens. The foliage plant with reddish bladders is Amicia zygomeris.

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