<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today click here

A garden visit to Chinthurst Lodge in Wonersh

PUBLISHED: 19:51 12 July 2016 | UPDATED: 20:33 12 July 2016

The glorious laburnum tunnel is a highlight

The glorious laburnum tunnel is a highlight

Leigh Clapp

For Surrey Life’s gorgeous gardens series this month, Leigh Clapp enjoys the atmospheric garden at Chinthurst Lodge in Wonersh

Michael and Hilary enjoy opening their lovely Wonersh garden Michael and Hilary enjoy opening their lovely Wonersh garden

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2016


Need to know:

Chinthurst Lodge, Wonersh, Surrey GU5 0PR.

Visitors welcome by arrangement until July.

Admission, £5; children free. See ngs.org.uk


Chinthurst Lodge dates back to 1745, with major additions between 1840 and 1895 giving the Edwardian façade, and is part of a larger country house that was divided in 1952. When Hilary and Michael Goodridge bought the property in 1988, they were already familiar with the area as both were from Surrey and had lived in Wonersh before.

“We spent a long time searching for a suitable house and suddenly this one came up in the Sunday Times,” says Hilary. “I came and had a look and just fell in love with it; it had character. Then I looked around the garden and it was quite big but I wasn’t too daunted by that. Michael saw it in the dark and put in an offer, as it was fairly urgent to do so. I said ‘don’t worry, I’ll look after the garden’, as I knew he wasn’t too keen on gardening. Luckily, when he did see it in the daylight, he wasn’t too daunted either!”

The garden is just over one-acre, faces south and stretches out from the back of the house. Beyond the garden is a five-acre field, where Hilary, who is also a keen rider, keeps her horses, and on either side of the property are farms, giving a peaceful rural location. The soil is sandy with undulating clay underneath, which can cause waterlogging in winter and drought in the summer. “It’s also a bit of a frost pocket and we’re exposed to winds because of all the fields around us,” says Hilary. “But we have improved the soil over many years having a good supply of horse manure and my six compost heaps!”

On the plus side, when the couple moved to the property, the garden had much of the structure already in place, including a produce area with a large vegetable plot, espaliered apples and fruit cage. There was also a ‘White Garden’ by the house, which had just been started before they arrived, and pergolas already in place. The rest of the garden had a few shrubs, mostly hebes, but was generally overgrown with stinging nettles and mare’s tails.

Enhancing what was there and adding new areas as they went along were Hilary’s aims: “Our plan was to restore the garden in stages to emphasise different rooms with different characteristics,” she continues. “I would say my style is part formal, part cottage garden, with many rooms to create surprises and interest.”

Labour of love

The process involved a great deal of hard work to produce the garden that you see today with its rich planting palette and range of areas as you journey through the landscape, which include verdant lawns cut in a chequerboard design by Michael, curving densely-planted borders, water features, pergola walkways and productive plots. Looking around at the sheer variety of areas and wealth of plants, there is no wonder that Hilary freely admits with a smile that her garden is “definitely high-maintenance.”

Visiting gardens is a favourite pastime and, in particular, Rosemary Verey’s Barnsley House has been a major influence for Hilary, resulting in a striking box parterre that edges the stone path leading from the White Garden. Formed of neat, geometrical, hedged beds, it is infilled with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and a selection of herbs.

Other projects have included the replacement of a dying pear tree with a laburnum tunnel, resplendent with the gleaming golden racemes in early summer, and the vegetable plot was halved in size to create more herbaceous beds for pollinating the remaining vegetables. “We couldn’t possibly eat all the amount of vegetables with such a large patch so that was one of the first things we did,” says Hilary.

An unexpected feature to discover is a gravel garden, created from scratch as a response to a series of dry summers. Membrane was put down with gravel on top, holes cut out for the plants and weeding is needed to keep it looking neat. Hilary has found the plants that really thrive there are hostas and blue oat grasses.

“Each season has its highlights, whether it’s the spring bulbs, herbaceous plants and roses in summer, autumn colour from the array of trees, or the winter-flowering plants and bright red cornus stems,” adds Hilary. “In June, I have to walk around the garden every evening because I just absolutely adore the whole thing; there’s no specific part of the garden, I just love it all.”

Opening the gates
For 23 years, the couple have shared their garden with visitors through the National Garden Scheme, enjoying the opportunity to chat with like-minded people, many who are return visitors who have followed the progress of the garden. As such, they will be holding two open events this month.

“Visitors say it is a tranquil place and also gives them inspiration for their own gardens,” says Hilary. “And many comment that it is one of their favourite gardens and they can see the passion that goes into it. People are always amazed at my edges, which are perfect on garden opening day – I do them all the day before using a tiny hoe!”


Get the look

• Go for densely-planted borders with layers from trees through to shrubs, herbaceous plants and ground covers

• Create different themed areas, including a garden dedicated to white flowers and silver foliage, a parterre with seasonal infill, a drought-tolerant gravel garden and vegetable plots

• Orchestrate your colour schemes: white by the house, then yellow and blue borders to pink tones, and finally splashes of blue delphiniums in the vegetable area

• Try to keep the edges formal but with a cottage feel overall

• Contrast neatly-kept lawns with lovely billowing flower beds

• Look out for unusual plants and allow them to drive the decisions, thinking about where to put them later

• Prune plants when needed to keep them looking healthy

• Think carefully about the final size of plants and shrubs to prevent the problem of overcrowding

• Punctuate the views with seasonal containers and sculptural detailing

• Include plenty of seats around the garden to relax and take in the vistas


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Surrey visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Surrey staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Surrey account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Surrey Life

Tue, 10:56

The RAF is 100 years old this month. Ken Delve, who served with the RAF for 20 years, explores Surrey’s airfields and the parts they have played in the history of aviation over the past century

Read more
Tue, 10:03

Bassist and songwriter Jean-Jacques Burnel is a founder member of the band once known as The Guildford Stranglers. He speaks to Duncan Hall

Read more
Tue, 09:40

One of the biggest foodie events in the Surrey calendar is back for 2018! Voting is open and this year’s event will take place at G Live, Guildford on Thursday 13 September 2018

Read more
Tue, 09:35

Is there anything Mel Giedroyc cannot put her hand to? Despite parting ways with the Great British Bake Off when it moved to Channel 4 last year, she’s barely been off our TV screens; hosting Let It Shine, and Eurovision, as well as The Generation Game alongside her best pal and comedy sidekick Sue Perkins.

Read more
Mon, 11:34

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend: art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Surrey County Show has been an annual fixture since the 1950s and the 2018 show is set to be the biggest and best yet

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This edition of Surrey Life features all the local ingredients to make this month special

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Whether it’s coronation chicken on sliced granary or a gluten free Victoria sponge, no sandwich works without the all-important filling!

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The vegetarian and vegan offering in Surrey seems to be improving by the week. Here are nine of the best restaurants and cafés for vegetarians and vegans in Surrey

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Small Designs is a collaboration between Ewhurst-based husband and wife team Deej and Small Carter, creating unique objects from reclaimed wood

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Surrey-based Love Water has produced a water cooler for supporters of every 2018 World Cup team and Surrey Life readers have the chance to win one

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cranleigh Preparatory School has announced its new Headmaster will be Neil Brooks, current Principal of Fulham Prep Schools and previously Head of Cothill House

Read more
Friday, April 13, 2018

Surrey, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit. Throughout the open garden season you will find an array of stunning choices, many also serving delicious home-made teas to complete your visit. Gardening editor Leigh Clapp picks out a selection of her favourites

Read more
Friday, April 13, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search