A view back towards the Arts and Crafts house over the White Garden, with tulips, hellebores and blossoming Pyrus salicifolia. Originally designed by Edwin Lutyens, the pool and fountain have been meticulously restored, along with paths, walls and steps. The formal gardens cover approximately 11 acres, now ably managed by head gardener Mark Cox.
The generous square beds of the Flower Parterre, originally planted by Jekyll, had been laid to lawn when the current owners arrived. Now the garden has been replanted in a scheme that echoes her original style, including Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Sarabande’, Eupatorium maculatum ‘Orchard Dene’ and Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’, photographed here in late summer.
Designed in 1912, Folly Farm was one of the most complex and interesting of the garden collaborations between architect Edwin Lutyens and plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll, created in the later stages of their partnership (described by Jane Brown in her book Gardens of a Golden Afternoon as ‘the vintage years of creation’). In 1906, Lutyens had been commissioned to extend the existing seventeenth-century farmhouse, which he did with typical aplomb by adding a large new wing in formal William and Mary style. Six years later, the house changed hands and Lutyens was employed to extend the house again, this time in the Arts and Crafts style that was so fashionable at the time. It was at this stage that the main gardens were laid out – a collection of contrasting garden rooms divided by crisp yew hedges and linked by herringbone brick paths; a garden irrefutably linked with the house thanks to Lutyens’ dual role of architect and landscape designer.
In tune with the Arts and Crafts principles that defined it – attention to detail, fine craftsmanship and quality materials – the garden has stood the test of time, with many of the original features still intact, although much of it was in need of repair when the current owners arrived in 2007.
The Lutyens garden rooms retain their original character, with the tall yew hedges clipped as in Lutyens’ day to the same level throughout to mask the slope. There are three main garden rooms near the house: the Dutch Canal Garden to mirror the gable end of the William and Mary wing, the Flower Parterre in front of the Arts and Crafts wing and the Sunken Pool Garden, which was originally planted with roses and lavender. The Flower Parterre was Jekyll’s chance to shine – a broad, enclosed space with large square beds in which she could plant her characteristic colour-themed sweeps of perennials. When Dan arrived, the beds had been laid to lawn, so the original layout was reinstated and a new planting scheme devised. Having studied old Country Life photographs of the garden, as well as Jekyll’s writings on colour theory, he was able to recognise many of the plants used by Jekyll, but felt he didn’t want to simply recreate a slice of history.