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.
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.
I just adored the grass – Pennisetum ‘Red Head’.
The polytunnel, next to this wall, was still full of tomatoes, chillis
and an interesting take on greenhouse shading – a wonderful tangle of climbers:
And, in addition to work to be done,
there was a fabulous display of work successfully completed!
Outside to the two small herbaceous borders, together with their four matching pampas grasses.
Here I admired the elegant Acidanthera murielae
and the rather more jazzy Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’
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!)
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.
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.
And further from the house still is this ‘arcaded wall’ which appears to be unique in England. See description the below.
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?
And 2. does she ever sit down?
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.