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Five Oaks Cottage

'An acre of delicate jungle', full of playful charm, unusual plants and striking gardenalia.


GAP Photos/Carole Drake

Feature No:   4388 

Qty of Images:    60 


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Few of us expect to read an account of our gardens written by a previous owner so when Jean and Steve Jackman bought Five Oaks Cottage near Petworth in West Sussex, they were excited to discover that Mabel Constanduros, actress, playwright and radio celebrity of the 1940s had described living there in her memoir Shreds and Patches. 'She talks about 'pale pink sweet-smelling violets', and 'primroses on the banks under the nut trees', says Jean. The violets continue to glow bright in the dusk and the primroses are allowed to self-seed wherever they will. What Jean now describes as 'an acre of delicate jungle', full of playful charm, unusual plants and striking gardenalia, was far from magical when the couple first viewed it in 1993: 'The garden was sterile, with just a few shrubs including two electric-blue-flowered hydrangeas, coloured by the acid soil. However, it did have the five wonderful oaks that give the house its name.' About 15 years ago Jean and Steve started to leave areas of the lawn uncut to encourage wildlife and the garden buzzes with activity in July as bees, hoverflies and butterflies feast on the knapweed and common hogweed that flourish in the resulting meadow. From the house the long grass and wildflowers stand out against a dark backdrop of gently undulating woven hazel hedge that echoes the form of the South Downs beyond.



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