A Visit to Stretton Old Hall Garden

Stretton Old Hall in Malpas is an impressive five acre garden that opens for NGS charity one weekend a year. It featured on Gardener’s World back in 2018 and we are regularly treated to glimpses of it on social media thanks to Head Gardener Stephen Gore @stephenthegardener

But nothing quite compares to seeing a garden for yourself and on Saturday morning I took advantage of the NGS open day and ventured forth with camera in hand.

Owner Kenneth Roscoe is an architectural designer, and brought his skills to the creation of Stretton Old Hall garden a few years ago. It was described by Toby Buckland on Gardener’s World as a garden of rooms and those rooms are on a grand scale, packed full of features as well as planting. The main terrace is flanked by olive trees in huge terracotta pots, all set into an immaculate lawn the size of a ballroom (only a slight exaggeration) and elsewhere, every box has been ticked for potential garden design features. From the swimming pool to the new gravel garden, no expense has been spared in creating something rather spectacular.

Let me take you on a little tour of some of my favourite bits. It’s always the planting that’s the main draw for me, and away from the main formal lawn, the herbaceous borders were full of vibrant late summer colour in the form of echinacea, crocosmia and helenium. Just over the hedge you also get a tantalising glimpse of the kitchen garden and the roof of the greenhouse.

I was very keen to see inside the greenhouse (not least because it was raining very hard at this point), and as you descend the steps into this area, you are greeted with another magnificent olive tree, this time in a raised brick circle rather than a terracotta pot, but again underplanted with pretty little Erigeron karvinskianos.

The enclosed kitchen garden has quite an intimate feel and is very formal in design, with the symmetry created from the raised planting beds. This layout is best appreciated from above so you’ll have to take my word for it.

The greenhouse provided a temporary refuge from the rain and had a water feature for me to admire.

Talking of water features (and there are quite a few at Stretton Old Hall) I wandered through into the rill garden as soon as there was a slight easing of the rain. Not that I minded the rain particularly, but the camera was getting a bit wet! Again this area also has a formality to it and I liked the different ways to walk around the water to admire the planting.

This shot was taken at the back of the rill garden. Fennel is used to give height to the perennial planting here, and is repeated in various different parts of the garden.

A new feature for 2021 is the gravel garden. The stones are very impressive and I loved the blue of the perovskia against the gold of the Stipa gigantea and gravel.

The changing levels provided some great viewpoints and the different ‘rooms' are all linked by paved or gravel pathways of all shapes and sizes.

As I moved outside the central part of the garden, the contours softened, with sweeping curves of delightful annual meadow planting.

In a shady corner, I came across a very tempting rope swing.

And the lake was in complete contrast to the more formal water features.

There is much to be admired in this garden, and I found it an fascinating place to visit. Stephen and his small team of part-time helpers do an excellent job in maintaining it to such a high standard and I’ve no doubt it will continue to evolve in the future. Follow Stephen @Stephenthegardener on Twitter and Instagram for the latest photos and garden news.

But I’ll leave you with a final thought. All the plants are beautifully cared for (and clearly very well behaved), but have you ever seen Alchemilla mollis so neat and tidy in August…..

Thank you for reading!

Garden designer, photographer and blogger