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West Green House Gardens|
West Green, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8JB Show on map
Phone: +44 (0)1252 844611
West Green House is a quintessential English manor built of warm red bricks where busts of Gods and Emperors survey from their niches high in the house's facade the enchanting walled garden and the classical lakes and follies beyond.
This quiet corner of Southern England, seemingly untouched by the twenty first century, is in fact within a twenty mile radius of Guildford, Farnham, Basingstoke, Reading, Farnborough and Camberley and only 55 minute drive from London.
Marylyn Abbott purchased the 99 year lease of West Green House from the National Trust in 1993. Since then it has been run as a private garden as the National Trust relinquished all financial and day to day involvement with the estate.
Taming an inherited jungle was only a beginning for West Green House; what the garden needed was vision, knowledge, taste, energy, expertise and imagination.
Marylyn Abbott had all those qualities. She learned her gardening in New South Wales, where her garden in Mittagong was the most visited in Australia and also recently featured in the BBC's Gardeners' World programme "Around the world in 80 gardens".
She found the quality of the light in England so different from Australia that she made a special study of its effects upon colour in the garden. Her book, "Gardening with Light and Colour", is a modern classic.
It is in the mellow, eighteenth century walled kitchen garden that Marylyn Abbott's sense of design and colour finds its fullest expression. Here, with neat clipped box hedges, the borders overflow with plants in stunning colour combinations that change from year to year and throughout the seasons. Elegant trellis-work fruit cages draw you up to the potager where fruit and vegetables are grown in a decorative way - always ornamental but never chichi.
A grand water staircase, created by Marylyn Abbott, provides the focal point to the Nymphaeum fountain designed by Quinlan Terry. West Green House has many other features which are original and inspirational. By the house is a charming small topiary garden where water lilies flourish in small water tanks sunk in the ground. It runs up to a handsome aviary inhabited by unusual breeds of bantams and chickens. Beyond, are a dramatic new Persian water garden in a woodland glade, a newly restored lake, more follies and fancies, new walks and massive plantings of snowdrops, daffodils and fritillaries. Lavishness is a hallmark of the Abbott style -15000 tulip bulbs are planted every year - but Marylyn also emphasises the importance of drama, colour, innovation and humour in the garden. The lessons for the visitor are endless: you cannot fail to be inspired, cheered, amused and delighted by this extraordinary garden.