Cool, Green and Tranquil Gardens – with a twist – exploring the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

A garden visit this afternoon but not entirely for the horticulture …

This is, despite the artful additions, a just-tamed and beautiful, cool green, tranquil and quite enchanting garden – the rock and water garden to the former Leith Vale Estate built in the 1920s (Leith Vale was then owned by one Trotter, banker and treasurer of the RHS and friend of EA Bowles) – and rescued from dereliction and unrestrained efforts of Mother Nature by Hannah Peschar and her landscape architect husband some 30 years ago, a garden that had slumbered untouched for decades before.


Affordable then on account of the immense neglect of the garden and house on it but clearly with promise. Through their hard work and vision over several decades, it has become the perfect setting for a myriad multitude of sculptures, each in set off and secluded from its neighbour by the waterways, huge trees, bold planting and cleverly crossing and meandering paths. And it truly has an enchanting atmosphere – perhaps because of these passions of the two who created it – no anodyne public garden, this.


With ribbons of green water and many tranquil pools, in a natural (?) bowl (the views are all into and through the garden though the landscape around is beautiful and the nearby Leith Hill affords stunning and far reaching views) at the heart of the garden is a Tudor black and white cottage, also rescued from near collapse, though it still looks only the better side of ramshackle (the crisp deck overlooking the water aside). A summer house elsewhere in this wooded bowl has a deck towered over by Gunnera where I really really would like to while away an hour or three. The tall pitched roof of the woodstore is almost entirely lost to mature ivy now, above ‘ancient’ lathe walls.


The reception (the first image) is almost a treehouse (though a very smart one and in fact built into the hillside with an impressive deck giving you the first view of the woodland below), and they had elderflower cordial ready for the thirsty visitor. Perfect. We were one of only 10 cars when we arrived just after two, double that as we left and always felt as we had the entire 10-acre garden pretty much to ourselves.


Better buy a lottery ticket if I want to fill my garden, though it has inspired me enormously. Bicycle bells, primary-coloured steel poles (or maybe bamboo) ……





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