Every summer the National Gardens Scheme opens the gates of many, otherwise private, gardens. I always try to make the most of this opportunity, and this year I was able to visit the garden of writer, Roald Dahl.
Gipsy House can be found along a lane on the outskirts of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. It is still the home of Felicity Dahl, Roald’s widow, who opens the garden for charity on one or two days each year (click on images to enlarge).
Immediately surrounding both the front and back entrances to this pretty whitewashed building are a variety of formal borders with luscious, cottage-style planting in soothing shades of white, green and purple. These beds are separated by worn brick pathways that lead the garden visitor up gentle slopes and around corners.
Continuing through the garden you come across this striking pavillion, its entrance flanked by two giant birds, before passing through a hedge into the sundial garden.
With a hot, mediterranean colour scheme of orange and red these borders are a lovely contrast to the cooler planting around the house, and on a beautiful summer’s day it would not be hard to sit on one of the shaded benches, staring at the sundial and imagining yourself to be in Italy.
Just beyond the sundial is Gipsy House’s large walled kitchen garden complete with stunning greenhouse and espaliered fruit trees. I saw no evidence of giant peaches but I did find some lovely nectarines that were getting ready to ripen.
Around the corner from the kitchen garden is a small child’s maze.
The maze is entered via stepping stones through an orchard and, as you go in, you can read a beautiful quotation from Roald Dahl’s worked carved into the flagstones:
“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Alongside the maze is Dahl’s famous writing hut, the interior of which has been recreated inside Great Missenden’s Roald Dahl museum.
The hut stands at the end of a gorgeous lime walk, underplanted with a striking combination of hellebores and hostas – a morning commute that I think most of us could cope with!
However, for me the absolute highlight of my visit to Gipsy House was what lay beyond the rustic garden gates…
a stunning expanse of wild meadow, overlooked by the rolling Chiltern Hills, dotted with mature trees and inviting the visitor to take a wander through a series of mowed walkways. What a view!