On Wednesday 5 August the Beech Gardeners visited Dipley Mill near Hartley Wintney. There were 24 of us and we all bombed over there in about 6 cars not knowing what to expect. We found it without too much trouble and parked in an enormous field next door. There was a very nice chap to greet us and show us to an area where chairs had been laid out for us.
Our hostess, Rose, gave us a potted history of the Mill, interrupted frequently by two demanding cats. She and her parents had come to the Mill in the year 2000, although they had lived locally, and Rose had been dreaming of living at the Mill since she was a little girl. It had been derelict when they bought it and they lived next door while they made it habitable. The gardens were just meadows and the river, completely overgrown, and no trees and Rose and her parents set about designing their individual gardens, all with different themes. Rose had been very keen on the history of the drove roads with high banks, where farmers drove their cattle and sheep. They constructed some of these and even installed a cattle grid to complete the illusion. She then took us on a tour from garden to garden. We ambled down the Hornbeam Terrace and down the Drove Road to the Dew Pond which they had only created in very recent years.
We ambled on to Vesta’s Garden where there was this amazing statue of the Goddess Vesta (she of the flames and fires). There was an interesting array of climbing roses and clematis here with Sumac trees all around. From there we explored the Rust Garden, Grotto Garden and Pill Box Roof Garden. There was water everywhere – little tinkling streams, faster flowing rivers and small weirs – and we kept crossing them on little bridges. We wandered out to look at the Water Meadow overlooked and guarded by a Unicorn. After that we found the Vegetable Patch abundant in runner bean flowers and sweet peas. The greenhouse was there too where there were some amazing Bouganvillias and Hibiscus climbing up to the roof.
Then we came to the Oriental Carpet Garden surrounded by bamboos. Then came the Pool Garden with a strong Indian flavour, even to the Indian elephant posing by the pool, and a wonderful Indian table inset with mother-of-pearl and other stones. We had to shelter in the Indian summerhouse at that moment due to a heavy shower but then we braved it and moved on past the dovecot which was full of doves and pigeons of all types (shooed out from sheltering inside by Rose’s assistant, she admitted). We then passed the Pill Box Roof Garden accessed by circular staircase to a small roof terrace with wonderful views.
After that came the Rose Garden with a most wonderful array of colours you could imagine, and here are some of the amazing colours.
From there we approached the house again via the mill stream itself coming from under the road bridge, past the amazing gunnera plants and weeping willows, and eventually disappearing under the house itself. In front of the house the original Normandie stone millstones were set into the terrace – and so we reached the tea tent. Well – you have never seen anything like it – tea was set out for us at a long table with enough chairs for all 24 of us.
As well as tea and coffee there were carrot cake flavoured cupcakes, lemon drizzle cake, an amazing “death by chocolate” cake and finally scones with jam and Cornish clotted cream. FAB-U-LOUS !!! And after Rose’s Dad had answered a couple of questions we headed for home.
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