Reddish House & Spilsbury Farm
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Starting at the Grade II listed Reddish House, situated on a chalk hillside along the River Ebble, owner Sophie Caruth welcomes you to a guided tour of her gardens. Once owned and loved by Sir Cecil Beaton, a garden as romantic as the house itself was developed over 20 years with the help of devoted gardener Jack Smallpiece. Sophie has been breathing new life back into the garden over the past eight years with the help of designer Tania Compton (owner of the second garden included in this special event, Spilsbury Farm).
The gradual overhaul began with the water garden opposite the house which was bought by Cecil Beaton to make certain of the view from his bedroom window. Sophie then began restoring the many cob walls around the property which included reinstating the traditional cob itself and the crucial thatch. The main garden is primarily a chalk meadow garden with mature trees and renowned, large, cloud topiary. The main borders now burgeon with summer colour, there is a new autumn border in the orchard and there is a much-loved vegetable and cutting garden planted around a newly restored 1950s Strawson cedar greenhouse.
After lunch, our group will meet the owner of Spilsbury Farm Tania Compton, former Garden Editor for House & Garden magazine who worked with the owners of Reddish House to return the garden there to its former glory. The Spilsbury Farm grounds are an intriguing mixture of formality and wildness. An orchard next to the house leads to vistas lined with clipped blocks and pyramidal hornbeams in long meadow grass that focus the eye onto ancient oak trees. Within this strong framework, Tania is happy to let nature enjoy a controlled riot.
The house is approached by a lovely gravel garden planted with Perovskia, Euphorbia myrsinites and Santolina. Box, clipped into balls, keeps clouds of fennel at bay, borders billow with eryngiums, sedums, cardoons and grasses, and roses mingle with meadow grasses. Pots filled with summer annuals dress the terrace and furnish the steps.