HERTERTON HOUSE AND A NEW COUNTRY GARDEN
We had received good educations which have served us extremely well, but we did not emerge with the label of a profession pinned to our jackets. Our specialist studies were in art, during which no one had ever mentioned the art of gardening. But within a year or two of beginning to make our first cottage garden, we most unexpectedly found ourselves irrevocably committed to gardening. We had found that it had a lot in common with art. Making a garden provided an opportunity to compose and plan, as you could on a canvas on an easel. An enticing new vision emerged of working on this much larger scale, which added the extra dimensions of time and space.
However, gradually conviction grew that it was necessary for us to start again, because our first garden had not been composed from the outset and in addition its size came to feel inadequate. Whether you are a miniaturist or a mover of landscapes, there is a scale for everyone, which must be discovered.
Much inspiration was derived from living for thirteen years, as and where we did, in that cottage on the National Trust Wallington estate in Northumberland. This was formerly the home of the Trevelyan family, known nationally as historians, politicians and patrons of the arts. So the second part of the book, called ‘Taking Stock’, assesses how dynamic this apparently quietest of places actually was.
There, we lived between three cultures. Lady Trevelyan still lived in the great house and with the aid of her ploughman, her shepherd and her farm manager maintained the home farm. The village culture, too, was then still intact. Neighbours spoke of ‘us’ns’ and ‘them’ns’ just as Flora Thompson had described so faithfully in 1945 in Lark Rise to Candleford. They knew about townies but they were simply irrelevant. Then, after the death of Lady T (as she was commonly called in the local vernacular) we watched the coming of a new order, introduced by the National Trust.
When we moved to Wallington in 1964 we found, wherever we looked, how busily everyone worked and with what conviction and pleasure. There were many experts in many fields, valuing excellence, and this included both visualising and making. Some people think most clearly when