Bourton House Garden…wonderful plants but somehow…

CM Bourton
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…

Bourton Abutilon Ashford Red 2 CM
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.

Abelia grandiflora, Bourton, 617
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.

Bourton 10 617
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

Bourton 9 617
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.

Bourton 7 617
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

Bourton spotty dotty 617
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.

Bourton 1 617
The Parterre topiary.  Yes, well.  Bourton House Garden, June 2017
Bourton 3 617
Immaculately planted shady border, Bourton House Garden, June 2017
Bourton 4 617
The Knot Garden, but why, oh why, the blue herons?, Bourton House Garden, June 2017