A warm sunny Autumn afternoon at Chenies Manor

Garden Events this year have been few and far between so I am loathe to pass up an opportunity to get out and safely visit somewhere.  I was invited to go and visit Chenies Manor through the Garden Media Guild and we were assured that all would be correctly and safely socially distanced within the current Government regulations.  The afternoon was sunny with some warmth and off I set.  I had not visited this garden previously and so I was very excited to see what it would be like.

As I sat down to write this I thought, gosh, where do I start as it is difficult to decide; there is much to see in this garden.  So I have started with some fine pointy trees (I love a good pointy tree), some Elizabethan chimneys designed by the same person who designed the ones at Hampton Court.  You might notice that the south facing wall with no south facing windows.  When people did not know what caused plague they did what they thought was best in order to keep it at bay and not allowing bad air come from the south direction was as good a plan as any.  This is a house with its history written upon it.
The pointy trees are part of the formal garden that includes a maze and this wonderful iron lantern gazebo.
There is also this ancient oak, still growing, nearby, it is allegedly over 1000 years old, it certainly looks like it might be.
Along the south wall is this wonderfully bright display.  There are also sculptures well placed through the gardens which I really enjoyed seeing.
There is lots of well placed topiary as well and I liked this quiet corner of the garden.
This is the sunken garden.  The Macleod-Matthews family have owned the house since the 1950s and the current gardens date from that point.  They are a great achievement and are in keeping with the house and yet also modern and vibrant.  The house dates from 1180 and was owned for much of that time by the Earls of Bedford who own Woburn Abbey.  The house has had many iterations and not many plans exist to explain or date all that has happened.  It was the subject of a Time Team programme in the early 2000s that did much to uncover some of its fascinating history.....
and there is a lot of history, some dungeons, a possible priest hole and...
... in the Physic Garden.....
.... a well, a deep well, a well that is 170 foot deep which is five foot deeper than Nelson Column is high.  That is deep and...... John Noakes has been to the bottom and top of both.  For those of you who do not know who John Noakes is then look him up, I may have been more impressed with this than could be deemed reasonable.
 
The Physic Garden itself was wonderfully set out and labelled and I think smelled of curry leaves. 
 
I loved the calm and formality of the White Garden too.  This is parallel to the Sunken Garden and the calm green and white are a perfect foil and build up to the wonderful dahlia displays next door.
There is a lot of sculpture currently on display in the garden and this one I would buy if I possibly could.  I stood in front of it for quite a while.
I would also buy this one, for me is exudes peace and happiness, things in much need at the moment.
and I did do a double-take at this dog sculpture, for a moment there I thought it was real.
There is nothing half-hearted at Chenies, there is the most stunning kitchen garden.  It is both productive and beautiful.
As befitting a house with Elizabethan heritage there is a fine medlar tree in the garden, a fruit that was often grown at that time.
As mentioned above there is a maze in the formal parterre garden; in the kitchen garden there is this labyrinth.  There is no photograph of the maze as they are difficult to photograph from the same level as you can only see hedge.  I nearly went into the maze but confess I always worry a little I might never out again and time was short so I reluctantly didn't this time (I emphasise the 'this time' as this is a garden to return to.)  I love a good labyrinth.  There is something simple yet so stylish about them.  I want one.  I have written previously about how much I admire them as a concept.  I never leave seeing one without pondering how I can incorporate one (a small one) into my garden.  I will work out how/where one of these days and until then I shall enjoy other people's creativity. 

I have to mention that we were provided with tea and cake.  The link between garden-visits and cake is well known.  A garden visit can happen without cake and this has no impact on the quality of the visit.  A garden visit can happen with poor cake and that will slightly dampen the afternoon.  A garden visit with exceptional cake, that makes you want to go back and sample every cake they have on offer (even the carrot cake and that has vegetables in it) is the sign of an exceptional afternoon.  This was an exceptional afternoon - I highly recommend the chocolate and salted caramel cake.

Due to the current pandemic we were not able to go into the house as it is very much a family home.  This meant we could not do the indoor tour they usually have so, as said above, that will be for a future visit.  This is a garden worthy of visit, it has the 'wow' factor the moment you enter, but also has that eye for detail and its own history that makes it special.  I had hoped for a nice afternoon wandering a pleasant garden, what I experienced was so much more than that.

I have to thank the Macleod-Matthews family for inviting us to visit their stunning garden and also thank the Garden Media Guild for arranging it so carefully and responsibly.  

Stay safe everyone, and be kind.