Broughton Grange – late summer loveliness.

31 Aug

A return trip, this week, to Broughton Grange near Banbury Oxfordshire.
I first visited this garden three or four years ago on a busy Sunday NGS open day. It was heaving and not easy to appreciate with the crowds. So I was delighted to learn that it is now open on Wednesdays throughout the summer.


Broughton Grange is a rare thing – a private garden , owned by Stephen Hester ( yes this is where all your RBS profits have gone !) – that has invested in a substantial redesign from one of today’s most influential garden designers.
12 years ago Tom Stuart Smith was commissioned to design a new walled garden, complete with greenhouse, vegetable potager, ponds and knot garden.


It is great to see that so much craftsmanship had gone into the details – beautiful Horton stone walls, and oak doors with simple latches. Over and above the planting these details will continue to shine for decades.


The planting is Tom Stuart Smith’s trademark perennial paradise – late august it was still buzzing with echinacea, rudbeckia, hydrangeas, nicotiana, and endless seed heads. The tapestry of soft pinks and browns will last well into the autumn, highlighted with cobwebs and frost. The sprawl of plants is anchored throughout with tightly clipped box and beech, bringing some order to the chaos.


This kind of planting is very relaxed and not for anyone of an OCD disposition – you couldn’t possible weed out every piece of willowherb and you’ve got to be happy to let the fennel self seed everywhere. But the straight lines of the paths and pond and rill reassure you this mayhem is contained – just about !


Nothing will be cut back till late winter – and then they probably take a strimmer to it, mulch it well and just let it do it’s thing.

Below the main terrace, past the koi carp – who alarmingly practically jump out of the water at you expecting food ! is the knot garden – traditional only in its use of box for hedging and annuals to fill. The box is grown in a very organic random pattern and it is filled with large swathes of nicotiana, verbena, cherry pie and most beautifully – purple Russian kale. An amazing colour against the green hedges.


Facing south down the valley, you are gifted beautifully views of the surrounding countryside – either farmland or newly planted arboretum. The gaps in the hedging that open these views also remind you why this is a walled garden as stiff easterly winds buffet through.

The rest of the garden is more modest and traditional and probably compares poorly to its newer rival but there is still fine planting and elegant landscaping.



The joy of the new Wednesday opening was having the garden practically to myself. No need to photoshop all the people out of my photos this time ! There’s a new tea shed overlooking a beautiful flowering meadow and a nursery where you can purchase a few interesting plants.

It really is a pleasure to be able to experience a private garden that has been developed so sympathetically and to dream that one day I too will commission TSS to revamp my garden !




One Response to “Broughton Grange – late summer loveliness.”

  1. fleur September 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Hi; I’ve been on gardentours to the cotswolds last year and we also visited Broughton…we got a guidedtour from the headgardener ( nice!).

    So it s nice to see your pictures about it.!
    Found you on instagram!
    Greetings from Holland (in de polder) Fleur

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