On a recent visit to a garden opened under the National Garden Scheme, I found a site of great horticultural importance and beauty.
A house has stood on the Tylney Hall site in the village of Rotherwick near Basingstoke in Hampshire since 1561.
During a long and varied history, the estate and its various mansion houses have witnessed many changes; fortunately many of these have enhanced what we see today. However, some have had a detrimental impact on certain parts, namely the Italian garden, the rose circle garden and sections of the water gardens.
During the late 1940’s until 1984 the estate was owned by Brent Council. It was they who decided to destroy a beautiful Victorian Orangery in the walled garden and that tarmac tennis courts would be of greater value than an historic Italian garden.
However all was not lost because when the Elite hotel group purchased the property in the 1980’s they commissioned a highly respected garden design consultancy team to draw up a master plan that would bring the gardens back to life. The elaborate formal Italian garden was originally laid out by Seldon Wornum at the turn of the century and was high on their restoration agenda.
The sheer volume of work required to reinstate the Italian garden to its current beauty is a testament to the commitment and efforts of the owners. Looking down from the terrace it is difficult to imagine that in the 1980’s the view would have been of tarmac and high chain-link fences everywhere, today the view is of a fine garden maintained to the highest standards.
The restored Italian garden
The pleasure gardens at Tylney hall extend to sixty six acres and are under the management of Head Gardener Paul Tattersdill. He joined the team when Elite Hotels started the massive refurbishment of the house and gardens in October 1985 and has been working hands on at every stage as the gardens have come back to life.
There has been major planting throughout the gardens with an estimated 250,000 trees now giving spectacular displays all year round and providing backdrops for the shrubs planted amongst them.
Magnificent treescape across the lower pond in the water garden
One example of new planting is within the tea garden with its formal Yew cones, low box hedging and the pleached Hornbeam screen along the boundary wall. This small intimate space is in contrast to the large scale grounds surrounding it, but provides a wonderfully relaxed area for hotel guests to sit and take refreshments.
Other recent projects include planting many specimen Azaleas amongst the mature oak trees as indicated in old estate records. Formal orchards have also been planted with ornamental cherries under planted with thousands of narcissus to give a wonderful display each spring.
The walled garden is a masterpiece of restyling with a much simplified planting scheme within an old setting and is maintained by Paul Tattersdill and the garden team.
The cherry orchard planting scheme
The central 1870 section of glass house within the walled garden
The Circular Rose Garden
Future projects, along with the ongoing week to week maintenance schedule include reinstating the old circular rose garden, plus the possibility of creating the herbaceous border once designed by Gertrude Jykell; this being a major challenge for Head Gardener Paul not only in trying to locate old varieties of plants from the period, but also the volume of work involved in firstly creating the border but also its ongoing maintenance. Having seen the extremely high standards he expects this project is certainly not one to be undertaken lightly.
The sixty six acres of pleasure gardens at Tylney Hall are a delight for hotel guests and those able to visit at specific times of the year during the open days.
For readers interested in visiting this wonderful garden, more details can be found in the NGS Yellow Book or on the Elite Hotels website: www.tylneyhall.com