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Last but not least: the closest we get to a front garden. There is a bit to the right of the drive which is almost an afterthought: it’s the sixty feet or so that occupies the gap between the drive and the garage. But it’s actually the most formal of all the gardens: making its way down the hill by means of a series of rather lovely terraces, held in place by retaining walls, and – amazingly for this garden – more or less flat and straight.

This has given me delusions of grandeur. I have nowhere else in the garden where I can garden formally, and I have a bit of a soft spot for clipped box hedging. However I also need a cutting garden: so I am combining the two into….

The Parterre Garden

You can see the terracing better looking back up towards the house…

Imagine, if you will, a square (or maybe a rectangle) of box in the centre of each terrace, perhaps a curlicue or a squiggle, or an abstract pattern in the style of Tom Stuart-Smith at Broughton. I could even go for the raised look: they had some fine examples at Hatfield House on that Alan Titchmarsh programme the other week.

(Incidentally, they got their parterres and their knots hopelessly entangled in that programme. Repeat after me: parterre hedges have flat tops and a uniform height, knot garden hedges weave over and under each other. They had both on that programme, but Mr Titchmarsh went on and on about the parterres at Hatfield being knot gardens, and then they had a beautiful knot garden which he referred to as a parterre. Was I the only one shouting at my telly?)

Anyway. The point is, I shall fill the gaps in between with dozens and dozens of annual flowers for cutting: cosmos, love-in-a-mist, tulips, anthemis, sweetpeas, cornflowers, Ammi majus, some fennel and stocks and larkspur and…. you get the idea.

The log store, on the top terrace, is… well… less than edifying, and extremely overgrown. I may be commissioning my carpenter husband to do something deliciously gorgeous there instead. It has also, as you can see, been used as a compost heap by the previous lot of people, who kindly left their monster pile of garden rubbish for us to make use of – though I’m going to have to do a lot of shifting around into proper compost bins first.

There is also, according to the plans, a well under that compost heap. We await the alarmed cry and distant splash which will tell us it hasn’t, after all, been capped off.

The plant life is little more than overgrown shrubs: some are quite nice. This cotoneaster is in very full berry…

…and there’s a fine cotinus at the other end. Both, however, aren’t quite nice enough to out-compete the parterres. Though the cotinus may find a new home somewhere: I do like them. Something to do with that chocolatey shade of purple.

And the inevitable rose. This one is fighting it out with a rampant clematis in the corner: so far it’s survived against all the odds, so I have a certain admiration for such gritty determination. And besides, it’s very pretty even in November. It stays. For now.