An Unexpected Arts and Crafts Gem – Perrycroft

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It’s funny how you can trek all over the place, even all over the world, and yet it turns out that there is a wonderful gem of a garden right under your nose and you had no idea.

Perrycroft turned out to be such a garden today.  Situated just over the Malvern Hills from me, nestled just below the ridge and with panoramic views of British Camp and out across Herefordshire towards the Black Mountains of Wales, the house and garden were stunning and I wasn’t alone in this opinion.

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The house was the first commissioned the renown Arts and Craft’s architect, CFA Vosey received for a house.  Vosey had started his career designing wallpaper and furniture and was very inspired by William Morris, Pugin, the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and railed against the over decorative approach of the Victorians.

“Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences.” (CFA Voysey)

The white walls and green woodwork are peculiar to his designs and I was completely transfixed by it. The green works so well with the lawn and surroundings and really ties the house into its location.

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Adjacent to the house is the formal garden studded with topiary. I really liked the simple alternating approach of the blocks of sedum and grey foliage but more so that you look down into the square which gives you an interesting viewpoint and reminded me of the medieval gardens which had raised walkways around them.

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The topiary continues down into the next part of the formal garden.  You don’t really get a sense of the slope in the photograph above but they are quite steep and it is interesting that the owners haven’t been tempted to put in lots of horizontal terracing to tame the slope – in fact the box squares working down the slope actually emphasis the slope.

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The chickens are demonstrating the steepness of the slope in the shadow of their topiary cushion.  I have said many times before that I am not a huge fan of hedges and garden rooms mainly because I find them claustrophobia but this wasn’t the case at Perrycroft –  there was a luxurious generosity of space in each area.

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A sense of movement is achieved going down the slope with the repetition of key plants and colours as you can see with the asters and I like the way the verbena bonariensis is planted in front of the dark purple berberis hedge.

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There is a wonderful exuberance in the planting which is as generous as the space.  It is clear that a confident hand is behind this garden.  The owner, Gillian Archer, is very much a hands on gardener and is ably assisted by two full-time gardeners hardly surprising when you consider there are 10 acres to tame and manage.

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If ever there was an example of how wonderful a late summer border can look here it is.  The borders positively glowed with colour.

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As I have said there are 10 acres and aside from the formal gardens there is a woodland and also a wilder area with a chain of three ponds working their way down the slope,  a couple of wildflower meadow type areas, an orchard and a vegetable area.

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Throughout the garden are these very high back benches and I wonder if they are based on Voysey designs.  My research tells me that he liked to design the house including the furnishings and I understand that he partly designed some of the garden are Perrycroft.  It seems to me that the benches are reminiscent of his style.

The number of photographs I take of a garden are always a good indicator of whether I am enjoying it, am inspired by it or, as in this case, just bowled over.  When Voysey died in 1941 amongst the various tributes to his contribution to design and architecture was one from Pevsner, a German born art historian who commented:

“…he never regarded himself as the great artist whose genius must be respected and accepted without querying. He built what was to be useful and enjoyable, that was all. Hence the undated perfection of the best of his work. … his [pattern] designs were so perfectly balanced between stylization and love of nature that the best of them have, to my mind, never been surpassed. Voysey believed in a humane, homely, honest life, in simplicity with domestic care and comfort, and in leisure judiciously and pleasurably spent amidst trees and flowers. … the essence of his work and his personality does not belong to our age but to an age gone for ever.”

Perrycroft opens under the National Garden Scheme

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26 Comments Add yours

  1. Shirley says:

    Nice tour, Helen very nice! I loved the contained, block planting of the sedum and the comment: “He built what was to be useful and enjoyable, that was all.” . So simple and how true is that to all our gardens 🙂

    I do like the shade of green chosen for the house window frames and woodwork – interestingly looking back at hol pics of Monet’s house at Giverney he too chose green for his shutters, windows, steps and handrails. Both used a different shade of green but each matched their garden perfectly 😀

  2. This is a fabulous garden- thank you for sharing it with us.
    I love your comment about garden rooms, I absolutely agree.

  3. Cathy says:

    Isn’t it good to keep discovering places we never knew of before? Thanks for sharing this one.

  4. Thank you for introducing me to a new garden. Your comments really hit the mark with me. And thanks for pointing out how Verbena bonariensis was used here; made it seem like a totally different plant.

  5. pianolearner says:

    That place looks great. It’s a shame we didn’t make it there today, we could have met up. 🙂

  6. Diana Studer says:

    that formal garden is restrained perfection. The red flowers keep drawing me back.

  7. POIROT says:

    What a beautiful garden it is, and it locates close to you. It’s wonderful. I saw the white walls and green woodwork for the first time, and I like it. I wish I could see the garden like this near our house.

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yet another on my ‘wish list’ !!

  9. Hoov says:

    Really wonderful–the white walls and green woodwork are perfect. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th photos particularly enchanting. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful place.

  10. Janneke says:

    This garden looks heavenly. So exciting to find such a wonderful place so near.
    Wish you happy gardening !

  11. Dear Helen, Thank you for your garden tour. I really liked it. A garden that beautiful in september! You are privileged to live in a country with so may beautiful gardens.

  12. This looks like a lovely garden to explore and enjoy. If only I didn’t live so far away! I shall have to put it on my list of gardens to view when I eventually make my garden ‘safari’ around the UK. The list is getting rather long. Helen

  13. Anne Guy says:

    Great garden and a great architect I visited a couple of years back whilst designing a garden for an architect who loved Voyseys works. Great photos too Helen! I too live in Worcestershire and we are lucky to have so many inspirational places close by.

  14. Anna says:

    What a fabulous discovery Helen! I like the look of the house too. I hope that it opens under the NGS at the same time each year as I’m already making plans for the weekend at the end of September next year. Malvern Show, The Picton Garden and now Perrycroft thanks to you will be the batting order. Must make sure that himself has retired by then.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      And they do very nice afternoon tea as well

  15. I haven’t seen this color scheme on a house but it is very eye-catching. I can’t imagine gardening 10 acres, can you? They are certainly doing an outstanding job; this one is worth seeing again.

  16. The garden is such fun, love your photo album. The house was a real surprise for me. The architectural design integrates it right into this stunning environment.

  17. Gillian Archer says:

    Thank you so much Helen, and thanks to everyone who came to Perrycroft on Sunday for the NGS afternoon, a great success. It was lovely to meet you, and your photographs are fantastic! You are right about the benches, they were designed especially for Perrycroft in a Voyseyesque style. Hope to see you at the Hub!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Gillian
      Im glad you like the post. I adored your garden

  18. Matt says:

    I go past Perrycroft often and I always wonder what the garden is like. Now, thanks to you, I know it’s so lovely I’ll have to make the effort to go and have a look for myself.

  19. Thanks for the delightful tour! I particularly like the Verbena bonariensis in front of the Berberis hedge as well. The dark Berberis foliage makes the verbena pop. Do you know the identity of the willow-leafed shrub in the photo third from last (just behind the bright pink salvia)?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi MHM
      I’m sorry I have no idea what the shrub is, I noticed it as well but forgot to ask.

    2. Gillian Archer says:

      It’s Chusquea culeou, a type of bamboo.

  20. Anne Guy says:

    Could it be Grevillia?

  21. bittster says:

    What a fantastic garden, and immaculate to boot! I love the sedum and will have to think of a way to copy that look on a smaller scale.
    The colors in general are beautiful, they really look fresh and sparkle in the autumn light. Not a single tired summer leftover in sight!

  22. Thank you for blogging about this. You’ve provided the answer to the question that I asked my husband recently – “What was the name of that garden we went to near Malvern a few years ago?” And this is it! We went, I’m sure, at an earlier time of year. I don’t remember so much lovely colour, but I was very impressed with the buttressed effect on the hedges, and Voysey’s house sits beautifully in it.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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