Sarah Coles

It was that Glimpse of the Sea, the Sea

IMG_4733And so we went to Encombe, a grandly simple house of Purbeck stone enfolded by hills and facing the sea, about a mile away.  James Gaggero said in winter storms you can hear the sea roaring.  We were there to see the new garden created by Tom Stuart Smith, doyen of garden designers.  Led by charming gardeners (but how I hate being led, I want to wander with a plan of the place, or just wander, I don’t want to have to stand and hear how many tons of manure were incorporated in this difficult soil, IMG_4708etc etc), we duly admired the wide flowing herbaceous borders near the house and below the temple.  We admired  the view through the moon gate, over flowers to the lake.  In the walled garden a sea of ox-eye daisies surrounded a little formal garden of topiary, fountain, lilies and paving – it was like the little baroque cathedral at the heart of the forest of Moorish pillars in Cordoba, doubly private, a garden within a garden.  Above were glass houses, and a slightly half hearted veg garden with raised beds outside.  Then we were served tea and cake by two uniformed (pretty black polka dot dresses) maids in the temple.

It was all beautiful – stands of Geranium Rozanne looked as though fed on steroids, wafts of IMG_4713philadelphus and honey spurge drifted by, the iris were perfection, and our host and hostess sat in the temple beside us and chatted.

But it was glimpses of the sea, the sea, that really stay in my mind, the long lake twisting like a river to join the sea, the glimpses of the sea as we descended down the hill to Encombe, and as we walked over the hill to the house.  Setting, place, shape.  This matters so much more than flowers which come and go.  I want to go back.





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