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Vann garden in Hambledon and Gertrude Jekyll

PUBLISHED: 16:24 19 March 2013 | UPDATED: 17:50 17 March 2015

The beautiful Vann garden in Hambledon

The beautiful Vann garden in Hambledon

Archant

Pay a visit to the much-admired garden at Vann in Hambledon, delightful in spring with its glow of massed bulbs, blossom on the bough and fresh emerging foliage – not to mention a unique water garden created by the legendary Gertrude Jekyll...

Words and photography Leigh Clapp

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With origins dating back to the 16th century, the sprawling house at Vann in Hambledon, added to by successive owners over the centuries, is deserving of a special setting – and it certainly has one. Its beautiful Arts and Crafts style garden, with elements by Gertrude Jekyll, perfectly befits both the architecture and the lovely secluded surroundings.

“The house is steeped in history,” says owner Mary Caröe. “The most recent additions, in 1907, were by my late husband’s grandfather, WD Caröe, the renowned ecclesiastical architect and a major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.”

 

A Jekyll highlight

Owned by the Caröe family for around a hundred years, the house has a five-acre garden, spreading out from three sides of the property, and is divided loosely into different areas with yew hedges and structured beds. By the house, the style is more formal, before extending out to the naturalistic woodland.

A particular highlight is the unique water garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll, who paid a visit to the estate, from her nearby home of Munstead Wood, in 1911.

Despite writing about informal water gardens, this is believed to be the only water garden Jekyll ever designed, laid out and planted – which makes it a real gem for us here in Surrey.

Leading from the house to the large quarter-acre pond, from where the water cascades to a succession of smaller ponds, is a striking stone pergola, underplanted with lime-green euphorbias, nodding hellebores and spring bulbs. At the ponds themselves, you’ll find massed water-loving plants, originally supplied by Jekyll and now increased and naturalised, including the original 50 fritillaries that have become drifts of hundreds. There are also carpets of daffodils and meandering paths and bridges to enjoy while soaking up the atmosphere of this tranquil garden.

 

A labour of love

Since Mary and her late husband Martin moved to Vann in 1969, the gardens have been gradually restored and are maintained beautifully. Weeds and brambles were cleared, hedges reshaped and plants added. Keeping to the ethos of Jekyll, and the Arts and Crafts movement generally, guides the garden’s evolution.

“The Yew Walk, with a rill and twin borders enclosed by tall hedges, is reminiscent of Jekyll and Lutyens’ work at Hestercombe,” adds Mary. “In fact, that is particularly special in spring, with massed crocuses, pulmonarias and erysimums.”

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Need to know:

Vann, Hambledon GU8 4EF. Open every Wednesday from April to July. Admission £5, children free. For more information, see vanngarden.co.uk

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