Small moments of peace…

10 June 2019
Ben Pentreath

In my memory, maybe it’s right, maybe not, this time last year we were having a bit of a heatwave. Not this June. I left London this morning in a cold wind and a pouring rainstorm to head to Kings Cross for the early train to Darlington.

Dorset has been cloudy and wet too, but having said that the garden has never looked greener or more lush, and the funny thing about rain is that if you’re a gardener you love it. May had been so dry.

Charlie’s cottage garden – replanted this spring – has gone mad.

Heavenly foxgloves and lupins.

You see what I mean? We’ve had our friends Luke and Duncan staying over the weekend. We did all the usual treats of a Parsonage weekend…. Bridport market early on Saturday morning, which was cold and blustery and a little empty of stalls; Soulshine cafe for breakfast, then more mooching in some of the brilliant antique shops in the backlands of Bridport. Lunch at Brassica in beautiful Beaminster and home for walking the dogs and afternoon naps and tea and then supper with our neighbour Anne popping up for a happy evening of debate and conversation and generally getting nicely but not too drunk. That sort of a day and night.

On Sunday, after a slow start, we went to Mapperton. Regular readers of the blog will know just how much I love this sensational garden. It’s some time, a long time, in fact, since I’ve been – Charlie comes for all the plant fairs but I have missed those. There is a new head gardener and everything was looking very good.

Here are the dreamy stone pillars that frame the forecourt of the house, with the stables and sawmill to the left.

The approach to the front door framed by two stone pillars topped by beautiful lead eagles…

And a perfectly decaying gate.

I love the delicate orangery that sits at the head of the valley – built in the 60s by the then Earl of Sandwich. I am not sure who designed this building but it’s very good.  Does anyone know?

And then the view down the extraordinary garden, tucked into a steep wooded valley, with beautiful topiary, steps and fountains making and marking the journey down the hillside. The perfect Edwardian place.  I have always liked this bronze plaque recording the men who built this beautiful place.

Luke and Duncan and Charlie, taking in the view. There is breathtaking moment when a whole new vista opens up, with a huge change of level and ponds and pools leading to the arboretum.  Until you get there, you have no idea it is coming. The genius of gardening…

The view back to the ancient higgledy-piggledy roofscape of the Manor House…Lush planting falling down the hillside.

Here is the little garden pavilion – one storey on the other side three storey here. 

Lunch outside in the sunshine was a treat. The boys headed back to London and we went home to the dogs and an afternoon nap.  But this is a short blog, because it was, in a sense, an all too short weekend – I got home on Friday night, after a long day in the Cotswolds… and had to head up to London on Sunday ready for an early train this morning. Life feels rather busy at the moment! We have some lovely projects happening which makes the early starts okay, but it does slightly feel as if the summer is rolling away before my eyes…. all the more important to find the moments of still calm and peace when we can.

15 comments on this post

Sue Reessays:

Love your posts Ben especially now my sister has just moved to Tanyard Barn, Beaminster, they give me a feel of the pleasures in store for me when I’m able to visit. Unfortunately it will not be for some time as she has major works afoot replacing the tin roof and installing an upstairs bathroom.
Will definitely be visiting Mapperton !!

Mary Lou Bethunesays:

If only foxgloves would grown in North Carolina.

Madeline Lodgesays:

Dear Ben
I have been following you on Instagram for a while now but only discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago (I know! Where have I been?) So, I started at the beginning, all those years ago and I just wanted to say it is such a joy. I am up to where you and Charlie begin ( and notice how every installment from this time onwards appears to have been written with a huge smile on your face)
Thank you for sharing your life, thoughts and beautiful photos with us. It is lovely to discover a shared love of Ravilious, Dorset, lustre jugs and many other wonderful things. I am definitely painting my sitting room pink!


Enchanting. Makes one enthusiastic to got out there and GARDEN. Love you posts. Wish I was your neighbor. Ann

Karen Bunchsays:

I think I could live in England. I always look forward to your posts and narrative on the beautiful gardens and landscape of your area.
Thank you for an armchair tour of such a lovely area.

Charlotte Ksays:

How does Charlie get biennials like foxglove to bloom the first year? Does he buy already established plants?

The photos in this post are the kind that force me to look through them very quickly, because this dream world is so beautiful, and I envy it so much that I get a pain in my heart and can’t quite deal with it. I’ll come back and look at them again another time, when I’m not so much longing for England (I live in US but my soul lives in England).

Patricia Childssays:

Wonderful spring flowers and fabulous gardens always

Southern Galsays:

Great timing as i am setting up the front porch where i moved having had to give up my garden of 12 years of my previous apt

the new place had promised i could garden and then gave me the darkest (literally no sunlight) spot to garden – one wee rose survived but i lost all my camellias (DAMN)

however have a 30×7 porch facing north but getting full sun all day. so will be bringing up the boxwood that survived and trimming them… love all the fabulous shapes in those photos (mine are much smaller !)

as always gorgeous envy inducing photos (and i hate google and facebook for showing me ‘remember this day’ photos of my garden when i have none any more. so i come and spend times looking at yours!


I just love Mapperton! You wander into another age and everything is so aesthetic. Thank you for posting such lovely pictures.


Really love so-called cottage garden flowers; as do all manner of insects too. Thank you also for an excellent tour of Mapperton. There’s something so attractive about a neglected swimming pool when it turns into just a dark pool. Best wishes, Nicola


Beautiful pictures, as always – they make me quite ill with longing, but in a nice way. I have tried to love lupins, but just can’t. Love a foxtail lily and a delphinium though. The sweet williams are gorgeous. Must make a note to see Mapperton; it looks lush.

Eldin Dixonsays:

Dear Ben we just love reading your blogs and get very concerned when sometimes there is a long gap between stories.We have referred you to many people here in Victoria Australia and they too now enjoy your wonderful photography and stories .Thankyou so much Cheers Eldin


Dear Ben,
your & Charlie’s garden is amazing, so lush and such wonderful colours and flowers …… Love ! Your photos of Mapperton are so beautiful too, we’ll visit England on friday for one week and then we want to visit Mapperton too, I’m looking forward to it and hope the weather will be fine too! Thank you for your lovely photos as always, have a good week !
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


Lush and lovely! Thank you.

David Sanderssays:

Charlie’s new cottage garden does indeed appear to have ‘gone mad’ Ben. In your photos, it seems to be enveloping the house. Love the lead eagles atop the stone pillars at Mapperton, although I have always had a penchant for gryphons.

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