The Pant. These two adjoining gardens at the end of a tiny road and nestling into a valley with dramatic views of the Black Mountains may have been overwhelmed on the planting front by other gardens in the ‘Gardens in the Wild’ festival at the end of June, but their originality and imagination marks them out as something quite special. We spent a magical nearly three hours exploring and really enjoying what we came across.
Rattling down a tiny road, you have no idea what to expect- and at first sight, two grey slated sturdy farmhouses push themselves into the hillside, and what appear to be conventional gardens are tucked around them. When you get closer, the magic begins.
Immaculate pleached hedging, espaliered fruit trees, a bowling green lawn take their stand against the hillside. A tiny jewel of a formal, framed parterre, not usually my thing, is the surprise element as you look down into wild valley.
More surprise behind the pleached hedge, as totally hidden until you come into it, is a miniature Islamic water garden. With dark reflecting water, and only the formality of the splash of red geranium colour to mark the edges of the pools, it creates a restful and contemplative place, protected by the stone terracing walls and the hedge.
From here, you leave the garden wrapped against the house, and take the path up and into the wooded hillside. As you follow the path winding up and down through the valley, it is not stretching a point to say that this is a ‘Hansel and Gretel’ experience for all ages.
The path has been created with vivid imagination creating vistas, moments, stories, faux ruins (or maybe not), statues and objects at each turn. Nothing is accidental and yet it is all done with a light touch, and decay, weather and time all play their part in enhancing the sense of timelessness. Some visitors rushed past us, seemingly unsettled by what they experienced or maybe treating the path as a kind of challenge, but others wandered slowly as we did, taking in each experience in semi-wonder.
When we reached the bottom and walked back, surprisingly quickly, beneath the two farmhouses to the field where the cars were parked, we felt as if we had been transported in time and space- almost mesmerised by what we had seen and where we had been. Brilliant.