Church Gardens, Harefield

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My sister was treated to a private visit for two to these lovely gardens, and I was lucky enough to accompany her.

Kay, the co-owner with her architect husband Patrick, opened the garden this August for the NGS for the first time and received 450 visitors!  They have now added a number of ‘private visits’ to their calendar and this was the first.

The NGS entry gives a really good summary, so I’ve copied it in here:

Harefield’s own ‘secret garden’. 17th Century Renaissance walled gardens on the outskirts of Harefield Village, next to the beautiful medieval church of St Mary’s and Anzac war cemetery. The gardens are the only remaining part of the Harefield Place estate and incl a traditional kitchen garden and orchard. The gardens are presently undergoing extensive restoration having fallen into neglect and disrepair since the demolition of the original manor house in 1813. The kitchen garden has been run as an organic vegetable garden for 12 years with 56 raised beds in a beautiful geometric pattern. Since 2015, two 60m herbaceous borders and one double 20m herbaceous border have been created. Most recently a herb garden of more unusual herbs has been added. The orchard is an incredibly rare Renaissance ‘pleasure’ garden, with the remains of a terrace and unique arcaded wall, which was replanted as a cobnut nuttery over 100 years ago.

I was a little concerned, bearing in mind the time of year (and the rather sad state of my own garden) there might not be much to see, but there was beyond plenty!  I believe, even in the winter, there would still be considerable interest because of the very strong structure.

This is an aerial photo Kay gave me as part of my ‘private visit pack’ and clearly shows the layout of the main walled garden.  IMG_5080

The top right quadrant (with the pallets) will house a new metal framed fruit cage and the area to the right of that, heading off the picture, will eventually have a large lean to greenhouse against the wall at the right hand end of the garden.

The garden has walls on three sides (in the picture above they are the top, bottom and right hand end, representing (very roughly) the west, north and easterly boundaries.

The beautiful wall below is on the eastern boundary, facing west. IMG_4534

I just adored the grass – Pennisetum ‘Red Head’.IMG_4535

The polytunnel, next to this wall, was still full of tomatoes, chillisIMG_4526

and an interesting take on greenhouse shading – a wonderful tangle of climbers:IMG_4528

And, in addition to work to be done,IMG_4530

there was a fabulous display of work successfully completed!IMG_4529

Outside to the two small herbaceous borders, together with their four matching pampas grasses.IMG_4524

Here I admired the elegant Acidanthera murielaeIMG_4537

and the rather more jazzy Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’IMG_4538

On to the 56 Veg Beds and they were a carnival of yellows and oranges due to the companion planting of Calendula (top picture) Borage and Nasturtiums.  Kay gardens organically and is a follower of permaculture and so companion planting is important for pest control, pollination (and it looks gorgeous!)IMG_4551IMG_4548

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And of course, when I’d worried about there not being enough to see, I hadn’t envisaged such a magnificent pumpkin patch, clearly at its peak just before Hallowe’en.IMG_4557

Beyond the walled garden there is yet more interest.

Firstly, the extraordinary ‘Organ Pipe Bed’.  The pipes really are organ pipes from the church next door.  The bed is northerly and so planted with hostas and shade tolerant shrubs.IMG_5067

And further from the house still is this ‘arcaded wall’ which appears to be unique in England.  See description the below.IMG_4561

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To finish I’ve got two questions – 1. how does Kay find time to work, tend the existing garden, continue with the restoration and read all these books?IMG_4564

And 2. does she ever sit down?

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With thanks to Kay and Patrick for sharing their beautiful garden (and fascinating project) and to Elizabeth for treating us to such a lovely day.

2 thoughts on “Church Gardens, Harefield

  1. Cathy

    What an amazing place and what dedication to principles! Do they have any support at all? It is clearly very much a labour of love and how exciting for you to have a private visit – if guided by the owners it adds a whole new dimension. You are quite right about structure making an impact on out-of-season gardens too

    Reply
  2. Di'ane Blackwell

    Oh my goodness ,what a surprise I had no idea the gardens existed! I know the church and the Anzac graves,infact my sister got married in the church,but I thought Harefield Place was long gone without a trace!
    Dx

    Reply

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