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Old Rectory - Dorset in May

A striking 5 acre garden set in a peaceful Dorset valley created since 1995 by Simon and Amanda Mehigan.


GAP Photos/Carole Drake/Simon and Amanda Mehigan

Feature No:   4909 

Qty of Images:    77 


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The sight of an overgrown conifer plantation covering almost half the ground of a five acre garden would be enough to put most people off a property, however historic the house and charming the village, but not Amanda and Simon Mehigan. 'We weren't daunted by the prospect at all though I think that was due to our ignorance as much as anything', admits Amanda. 'We had moved down from London to a small cottage near Bridport and were looking for a bigger project.' When it was time to start planting in earnest the couple had years of enthusiastic garden visiting to draw upon, with favourites including Sissinghurst Castle in Kent and Beth Chatto's garden near Colchester in Essex. Simon, keen on formality and strong architectural shapes in a garden, planted the entire 180m central axis with a formal avenue, including yew pyramids, a line of fastigiate hornbeams and a pair of solid hornbeam hedges leading to a beech 'house' at the garden's far end. Now the mature avenue is the garden's dominant feature, parallel lines of bold geometric shapes that frame views across the garden from the well drained slopes to its north planted with sweet chestnuts, walnuts and fruit trees, to the low lying watery world to the avenue's south side shaped by pond, stream, bog garden and pollarded willows. The house is closely framed by evergreen structure too: the front drive surrounded by clipped holm oaks and hollies that stand in panelled pews of clipped box; the formal courtyard at the back of the house a mix of clipped Portugese laurel umbrellas set amidst box parterres underplanted in the summer with herbaceous planting. In May ground below the avenue of red oaks, Quercus rubra, that slices across the garden erupts in colour as brilliant scarlet Tulipa sprengeri blooms amongst clouds of blue forget-me-knots. A wonderful balance of formality and lush planting.



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