CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

An English country garden at Longer End Cottage in Normandy

PUBLISHED: 18:48 20 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:43 20 February 2013

An English country garden at Longer End Cottage in Normandy

An English country garden at Longer End Cottage in Normandy

With a whole host of private gardens opening their gates across the county this month, there's certainly no shortage of wonderful gems to visit – but a truly delightful choice for a summer's afternoon is Longer End Cottage in Normandy

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2011


With a whole host of private gardens opening their gates across the county this month, theres certainly no shortage of wonderful gems to visit but a truly delightful choice for a summers afternoon is Longer End Cottage in Normandy


Words and photography by Leigh Clapp

Enthusiastic gardeners Ann and John McIlwham always look forward to sharing their beautiful garden at Longer End Cottage in Normandy when they open briefly for the National Gardens Scheme each year.


Part of the pleasure of gardening is the common interest, says Ann. All the hard work in opening the garden is far outweighed by the joy of the day. To watch people absorb the atmosphere of the garden and exchange ideas over afternoon tea is a magical experience.


The couple have lived at the 16th century cottage since 1976, when they moved in to discover a lovely, well-structured garden, set over one-and-a-half acres, and began work on developing it further.


The idea was to create a romantic garden where we could be detached from the madness of the real world and enjoy a sense of calm, says Ann.


The framework of yew and holly hedges was retained and provided a palette to work on, though the couple did find some challenges as they progressed with the garden.


It was very beautiful, but with our initial lack of detailed gardening knowledge, we managed to lose a large number of plants, recalls Ann. It was a steep learning curve.


Working with the light and sandy soil, which has an average PH of 6.5, not to mention being set in a frost pocket, has often meant moving plants around until the ideal position is found.
Honey fungus, deer and rabbits, plus numerous diseases, have plagued us as well, but the positives always prevail, adds Ann.


Picture perfect
A formal lawn at the front of the cottage is adorned with beds of roses, herbaceous shrubs and trees, as well as a naturalistic pond and a striking buxus parterre designed by the late Rosemary Verey of Barnsley House fame.


Other garden rooms spreading around the cottage include an attractively laid out kitchen garden, a stunning laburnum walk aglow with its golden racemes in June, underplanted with contrasting purple alliums, and an exotic jungle themed area hidden behind ivy trained on rope swags.


Other favourites include the brick folly and adjacent wildflower
meadow with its constant shimmer of textures though creating the effect was apparently quite a challenge as the area was cut back to the soil and then seeded with around 60/40 per cent grass and flower seeds, taking quite a few years to get just right.


To stand by the folly and watch the movement and colour of the grasses and wild flowers on a sunny day, with all the butterflies, is just gorgeous, says Ann. Its always full of surprises with different plants attracting your attention each year.


Having developed it from scratch, its lovely to see it work out it gives us a real sense of achievement.


There is an extensive range of plants in the garden reflecting Anns interest in finding unusual treasures to add to her palette of material.


Its wonderful having Wisley so close and I also love to visit Sissinghurst on a yearly pilgrimage, says Ann. It looks amazing any time of the year and the structure looking down from the tower is so inspiring.


Back at Longer End Cottage, at this time of year the foxgloves, irises, delphiniums and roses are out in their full glory, followed by spires of purple Verbena bonariensis catching in the breeze with soft pink lilies glowing in the late summer sun, before the autumn sees richly toned dahlias and late season perennials continuing the successional show.


Meanwhile, sculptural plants, such as bananas, palms and ferns feature in the exotic bed.


New plans are constantly in the pipeline, says Ann. Ideas may come from other gardens, magazines or an inspirational thought after weeks of sleepless nights!


With Anns background in catering, be sure to allow enough time to enjoy a home-made tea to complete your visit to this welcoming, charming garden.


NEED TO KNOW:
Longer End Cottage, Normandy GU3 2AP. For more information, see www.ngs.org.uk.

More from Surrey Life

Thu, 10:52

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wed, 16:05

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tue, 10:53

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tue, 10:47

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tue, 10:41

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Mon, 14:32

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Mon, 12:56

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Mon, 12:13

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We are regularly reminded of the high cost of housing with statistics revealing that only one in three millennials will be able to afford their own home during their lifetime and that most will remain in the category known as Generation Rent

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search