As a Summer treat I spent the afternoon visiting the garden of the late Roald Dahl in Great Missenden, Bucks. Open for charity as part of the NGS, yellow book open garden scheme, this is a charming garden. It features a York stone terrrace, pleached lime walk leading to the late author’s Writing Hut, a walled vegetable garden with glasshouse and wildflower meadow with its own Gypsy caravan.
I have visited the garden before, some two or three years ago now, but knew it would be a nice treat for my garden chum Liz. The House is on an elevated position and the front garden rolls gently away from it. This is somehow more noticeable by the great fat yew bowling balls sat on the lawn, they look as if they are about to roll away in any minute.
The house looks freshly painted white, this may just have been the intense sunlight glaring on it, but the door is a fizz popping yellow and this colour scheme is picked up by the planting. A giant tree paeonia dominates at perhaps 2 meters, its large open paper-like white petals have egg yellow middles. I really didn’t like this egg like combination and yet when I looked back at the plant from a distance with the house in the background I could appreciate its suitability.
The stone terrace was softened by froths of Alchemilla mollis, a mass of yellow flowering Hemerocallis, Day lily, variety unknown, glowed in the sunshine. The climber on the pergola style frame around the table was Clematis Tangutica and this is a late flowering yellow form (of course) which has silky-hairy seedheads in Autumn.
I rarely choose to have yellow flowering plants in my garden as I often find the colour unpleasant, so much so, that I consider the yellow shrub Forsythia X Intermedia positively vulgar. I do however love the Alchemilla mollis and reckon there should be space in every garden for one so I really found it interesting to see the yellow combinations work so well together.
The lime walk, was as you would imagine, parallel lines of pleached limes, however on a rare hot Summer’s day (31c) it seemed especially inviting as it offered shade. Under-planted with Hostas and Alliums I could picture this earlier in the season looking really fresh. And I was envious of the perfect leaves, untouched by snails.
The Writing Hut is at the end of the Lime Walk and I understand that the hope is to one day have this moved into the museum in Town. This may leave the Lime Walk as the road to nowhere but I expect something else will replace it. The Wildflower meadow looked as pretty as a picture with children running through the mown paths.
The vegetable garden was an impressive walled area of raised beds but I was disappointed to see that these were made from railway sleepers and in the hot sun you could almost smell the tar seeping from the sides. Not a great idea for your veg. The glasshouse was a lean-to style and there on the wall was what could only be right for this garden but a peach! Hardly giant but non-the-less gorgeous.
The garden is delightful and beautifully maintained. I like the personal touches around and about. such as a piece of coral which looked at first glance like a cactus, but on closer inspection revealed itself:
There is a terrier , not unlike my own, doing what terriers do best: investigating!
Anyway I like to imagine the late Mr Dahl having a little chuckle at his amusing objets in his garden. Interviewed in 1988, two years before his demise, Mr Dahl said that he took inspiration from his garden to create the setting for Danny, the Champion of the World and described how he had only ever written his stories from his hut at the end of the Orchard. How lovely.