We were fortunate to visit an Arts and Crafts style garden called Vann during the Best of English Garden Tour. Vann, a house dating back to the early 16th century and the gardens which surround it, are in Hambledon, Surrey.
The current owner and gardener is Mary Caroe, the widow of Martin Caroe, whose family has owned the house since 1907. She gave us a tour of the garden and a short lecture on the house and garden’s history.
The garden is probably best known because part of the garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll, a friend of the original owner W.D. Caroe. W.D. Caroe was an exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement who nearly doubled the size of the house and added or renovated the outbuildings.
W.D. Caroe designed and created a pergola constructed of Bargate stone and oak beams which Mrs. Caroe believes rivals the work of the much more famous architect and Jekyll collaborator, Edwin Lutyens. The Pergola Garden is planted with a variety of euphorbias, kniphofia, hellebores and bergenias.
The Yew Walk is my favorite part of the garden. Although there is no evidence that Jekyll actually designed this section of the garden, Mrs. Caroe is certain that Jekyll gave W.D. Caroe guidance for the garden, as well as supplying the plants from her nursery in 1909. A pair of yew hedges flank a rill planted in the Jekyll style. Huge boxwood spheres add structure to the picture.
This path, made of Bargate stone, leads to the Jekyll Water Garden, a series of four pools with paths and bridges that criss-cross the stream. It is planted with woodland plants, many of which were supplied and introduced by Jekyll. Vann is a National Garden Scheme Garden (NGS Yellow Book) and is open to the public by appointment or on open days.