Sue Marsh reports on our visit to Highlands in June.

Approaching Highlands

Highlands sits like a butterfly on its gently unfolding hillside.  It is pure pastoral heaven!

One enters through a wildflower meadow, round a hedge and there is the garden, white and purple foxgloves the tallest we had ever seen standing sentinel over all the floriferous splendour of the place.  The banks of colour near the house a tonic for the soul as well as the eye and the white garden the calmest of balms.  And all so delicate.

Chris Brown the (surely incomparable) Head Gardener told us how he mixes wild flowers with perennials and plants these in several layers, from ground hugging plants to the swaying poppy, pure white in the white garden, carmine in the other beds – and he told us how he considers the “footprint” of the various plants, some taking up less space than others so that all receive the nutrient they need from the soil.  Taking a Yellow Rattle he demonstrated how vital it is in the planting, and maintaining, of a meadow, the grass is host to the Rattle, slowly succumbing to its superior strength so that bare spaces are formed and wild flower seeds find their happy place.

Chris showed us trees and plants whose seeds had been garnered, via various gardening networks, from the temperate zones of the Himalayas and he led us through a woodland walk, so sophisticated in its planting our breath was taken away.  We walked to the natural swimming pool and saw Great Crested Newts with whom we would swim, having changed in the shepherd’s hut changing room!

Never had we seen such swathes of delicate colour, the glorious proof of Chris’s extraordinary talents.   He had told us he was following in the footsteps of the great Victorian gardener, William Robinson, in this magical creation of a “wild” garden.  With swallows darting across the sky, we were in heaven!