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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Cheriton Cottage & Garden - A Brief History Part One

Andy has worked at Cheriton Cottage for about twenty years: I have worked there for sixteen. Our plants now fill the borders.

I won't pretend that I have done extensive research about the history of Cheriton Cottage and the garden. I have used one source: 'Cheriton Now and Then' by Pat Culpin.

The first known occupants on the site of Cheriton Cottage go back to 1280. But it seems likely that the Inkpenne family were responsible for the building of the 'cottage'. John de Inkpenne bought the land in 1353 and an Elizabethan survey describes the Inkpenne's house as a mansion. By the early eighteenth century the 'cottage' is described as a farm-house.

In 1871, Vincent Gosford, the Tichborne steward, was living in Cheriton Cottage and he was responsible for creating a kitchen garden, planting numerous trees and the laying out of a flower garden. Rear Admiral Frederick Egerton and his wife, Augusta Phipps, took possession in 1885: they made extensive improvements to the 'cottage'.

In 1939, two years after Mrs Egerton died, Cheriton Cottage was requisitioned by the War Office. American and Canadian troops were billeted in the fields to the back of the cottage. A local man, Trevor North, (now in his late eighties) told me recently that, as a child he would visit the 'cottage' on Saturdays when the Americans would give children donuts. I've also been told that because it was cheaper than transporting them home, two jeeps were buried in the fields nearby.

In the 1950s, Cheriton Cottage and the surrounding lands, were purchased by Mr & Mrs Garnett-Orme. She was an avid gardener and a 1987 book, 'Garden Open Today' produced by the National Garden Scheme, gives an extensive description of the garden:

"The garden of about four acres is situated on the edge of this beautiful village. The upper reaches of the Itchen run through the garden and the soil is light, overlaying chalk."

It mentions the trees planted by the steward of the Titchborne estate:

"...the weeping silver lime, the blue cedar and the weeping beech."

and trees planted over the course of thirty five years

"...including fern-leaved and Dawyck beech, sugar maple, fastigiated tulip tree and the lime, Tilia x euchlora."

And finishes with:

"Whatever the season or weather this garden is a welcoming place,loved and cared for over the last hundred years."

I would second that!

Lime & Weeping Beech


To be continued............

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Winter at The Nursery

Knowing that our website would be up and running by the end of January, I had always imagined that my first blog would be about cold and frosty days. You know the kind I mean, when ice crystals cover the landscape to create a winter wonderland; when my horror of spiders can be forgotten as I gaze in awe at the intricate patterns woven everywhere; when the ground crunches under my feet; and when my cheeks burn with the cold. Those pruning days, when saws rasp and axes chop, and the smoke, from umpteen bonfires, tickles my nose.

I even imagined writing about the laborious task of removing snow from the top of a sagging poly tunnel that is threatening to rip and dance away in the wind. I'd write about the crisp, clean blanket that had covered the nursery, and about the creatures we could identify by the tracks they'd left behind .

Those are the kind of days that I look forward to. They are a welcome relief from those oppressive monotone skies, bearing down on my spirits and making me weary. No such luck! So for once I find myself almost agreeing with the Lebanese philosopher and poet, Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931):

"Fire is the only fruit of winter"

For a nursery that has not, as yet, had to resort to nasty chemicals, this mild weather is a worry. We actually welcome long, cold spells that help to kill pests and disease and create dormancy in the plants.

At The Nursery

As a nursery, with only one poly tunnel and no electricity, hence no heating, we rely on the changing seasons to assist in the propagation process. I once longed for a heated tunnel where little plants were guaranteed a safe transit through the winter months. In spring, I felt aggrieved at the stalls, displaying full flowering plants, with customers queueing to buy the delightful displays. Our plants would only be a few inches in height, with not a flower in sight, and so ignored. On closer inspection though, it was clear from the light green foliage and weak, emaciated stems that those flowering plants could not compare with the vigour and good health of cold grown plants. Fortunately, 'proper gardeners' can spot the difference and I am now glad that we have persevered and developed this way of growing. It does mean that our stocks are limited to how many we can physically produce. But nothing is more pleasing than returning customers saying: "Your plants are always look so healthy." and "I lost a lot of plants this year, but none of yours died." Of course we cannot guarantee that a plant won't die, but at least we know that it has survived its first winter with us.

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Roxana Fraser, Garden Designer & Our Photographer.

Roxana Fraser, Garden Designer & Our Photographer.

  • For previous blogs type in search:
  • Sowing and Growing
  • Gardening and Health
  • BBC Gardeners' World
  • Kalimeris versus Eurybia divaricata
  • A Brief History of Cheriton Cottage
  • Happy New Year
  • Poem
  • Winter at The Nursery
Cheriton Cottage Open Garden, Sunday June 26th 11am to 5pm

Cheriton Cottage Open Garden, Sunday June 26th 11am to 5pm

Common Blue in Nursery Wild Area

Common Blue in Nursery Wild Area

Poly tunnel at The Nursery

Poly tunnel at The Nursery

Painted Lady Butterfly on Buddlja 'White Profusion'

Painted Lady Butterfly on Buddlja 'White Profusion'

Peacock Butterfly in Nursery Wild Area

Peacock Butterfly in Nursery Wild Area

Knot Grass Moth Caterpillar in Wild Area

Knot Grass Moth Caterpillar in Wild Area

Busy Bee on Symphyotrichum

Busy Bee on Symphyotrichum

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Other times by appointment

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