According to research published over the last few years daydreaming is good for us. Drifting off into space used to be frowned upon, think of the classic scenario of the child being shouted at by their teacher for staring out of the classroom window when he/she should be answering some question on algebra. And, just as night-time dreams allow our subconscious to filter the information our brains have been exposed to during the day, it appears that daydreaming can also play an important role in learning and creativity. But, opportunities for reverie are becoming harder to find now, every waking moment is filled with some electronic device making demands on our attention. Bus or train journeys in particular used to allow for a spot of daydreaming, staring out as the world passed by. Now look around on you on one of these trips and everyone has their heads bent, eyes glued to screens of varying sizes and fingers silently sweeping by the information at their tips. Does anyone daydream any more? Well I do, admittedly this has something to do with living in a rural IT black-spot. Forget 4G, 3G would be a start. Instead of tweeting whilst I’m on a bus or train I find myself lost in my own world. Inevitably these are thoughts about work and life in general – maybe that’s why we’re all so keen to distract ourselves with Twitter, it’s more appealing than having to think about those decisions we need to make once we’re grown-ups. But, and here’s the good bit, quite a lot of the time I daydream about gardening.
Stanton Court is a garden I would describe as a daydream garden. We visited it the other weekend where it was one of twenty private gardens in the Cotswold village of Stanton that had opened to raise money for charity through the NGS. Stanton is a quintessential English village but what was really remarkable was the lack of encroachment of modern life. Looking out over the High Street from the viewpoint of one of the gardens it was striking how uncluttered it all was – no signs, no road markings, no telephone or electricity cables.
I thought twenty gardens in just over three hours was a little on the ambitious side so was planning to select a few must-sees, Wellyman however saw it as a challenge. We did end up seeing all twenty and went back to one of them for a second viewing but there was a touch of garden fatigue by the end of the day. The garden we revisited was Stanton Court. For me it stood out as something special. It’s easy to think that would be no surprise as the house and gardens are currently for sale for the eye-watering price of £11 million. Money doesn’t always equal good taste though, you only have to see some of the items for sale at Chelsea to realise that. The garden could have been quite bling and ‘footballer’s wife’ for that sort of price tag but it was beautiful, and I could quite easily have spent all afternoon wandering around this place. The long driveway led past an imposing manor house, built in the 17th century, and tantalised us as to what was beyond. The planting outside the staff quarters was beautiful, there were the greenhouses packed with plants and an interesting collection of cacti and succulents. Is it just me who finds other people’s sheds and greenhouses so interesting? They seem to escape the tidying up frenzy that engulfs a garden which opens to the public and they give a fascinating insight into the gardener, the tools they use, whether they’re organic or not and the plant collections close to their heart.
A path from the greenhouses led us to a kitchen garden. Elements were newly planted but it was easy to see how enchanting this place will be when it’s in full production. Of course I loved the inclusion of cut flowers to this area and the blackberry trained up and over an arch over one of the paths. Then there was a glimpse through a wrought iron gate to the most idyllic of views – a meadow of ox-eye daisies with the village church in the background. The meadow opened on to an expanse of manicured lawn and a pond and another path led off into a rose garden. I’ve seen a few roses garden over the years and I tend to find they promise so much more than they ever deliver. I want blowsy flowers in profusion, heady scents lingering in the air, an overwhelming sense of rosiness. Generally it’s scrawny looking plants clinging on to life and flowers that don’t even smell. Why, why, why would you ever plant a rose that didn’t smell? This time though I wasn’t disappointed – Stanton Court’s rose garden was dreamy.
Chelsea gold-medal winner Rupert Golby has been instrumental in creating a garden at Stanton Court which I think sits happily in its surroundings and compliments the buildings. I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps a bit twee or chocolate-boxy for those who would like something more challenging, more cutting edge. For me it was simply a garden where I wanted to spend more time. It had all the elements I daydream about when thinking of my perfect garden …. well, apart from a sea view. Of course I’m well aware of the reality of owning such a garden. A space this size, there are 62 acres which come with the house, would require a certain number of staff. For me it would defeat the object of having such an amazing garden if I had to work long hours doing something else to pay staff to do the gardening. And how much compost and manure would a garden this size need? The mind boggles.
That’s the great thing about daydreaming. Much as I loved Stanton Court I’m not so sure I would actually want the responsibility of owning and maintaining somewhere so vast. Of course I wouldn’t say no if someone offered it to me but I was more than happy enough to spend an afternoon there just noseying about. And now I can add a gravel garden to my garden daydreaming.