December is fine because  there’s Christmas.

But November, January and February strike me as horrible months. The weather is either dull and dreary, which is depressing, or has a kind of hard brilliance,

which takes you by surprise and hurts your eyes. In the garden world everyone bangs on about winter flower and makes the best of it they can, but it is a thin and weedy substitute for the glory of an English country garden in the summer.

So at this time of year I am apt to drift off to gardens visited in the past.

A sultry summer’s day a few years ago……………………….

We descended through open and rolling parkland to…


a house neither large nor small, simply gracious


borders with relatively few components led the eye in sweeping curves


they were backed by tapestry hedges


there were brooding colour combinations


some hot pink


flashes of white and silver


The warm air was heavy with the scents of roses and philadelphus


There was burgeoning topiary


massed herbaceous borders for us to drool over


a pool to take a dip in


It was all beautiful, and beautifully maintained by apparently invisible staff

We saw not a soul. I am not sure we were even meant to be there!


Could I live here?

 Like a shot.And whenever I hear the term ‘romantic garden’, I think not of say Ninfa or Sissinghurst but  of here: Hodges Barn.

What did I think of  it as a reviewer? Of what I saw, I would not change a thing. I was in love, and that is a condition which is scarcely analytical! Of course, later on in the relationship you see things more clearly and wish some of them were different!

But all this talk of romance? Yes, you are right, we did the ‘gardens are sexy’ post, (referring you to our Guardian Gardening Blog item), two posts back and here I am discussing romance.

It should have been the other way round. There you go. Life is rarely straight forward!