The Enchanted Gardener

There is a mythical sort of gardener that the 'celebrity' gardeners spin us - living an idyllic life of home grown home cooked food in a self decorated house surrounded by beautiful objects all made or found by loved ones.

When the celebrities then offer us a catalogue of all these things to be found around them, and all for sale, the image tarnishes and the reader feels like a child who has bitten into a plastic strawberry.  For money cannot buy the life style they are promising, and magazines cannot teach us to be original.

What a breath of fresh air then, a bolt from the skies, to meet a true Enchanted Gardener. An artist by calling and gardener by bent, Charlotte Molesworth lives in a cottage tucked behind a village green hidden from view. The cottage belonged to Cherry Ingram's gardener (He of Japanese Cherry fame - of whom Vita Sackville-West said 'his advice is good enough for me, and should be good enough for anyone').

When Charlotte and her husband arrived there was no garden, and they set about creating rooms and vistas armed with box snippets and cuttings they took themselves. 

The result is a delightful haven of exquisite shapes and eccentric structures - a summer house crowned in branches like antlers peers between what could be enormous chess pieces of topiary.

But no Wonderland would exist without an Alice, and the true delight of this visit is to sit and drink a cordial  (nettle and aloe with a twist of lemon) and listen to the stories of the making of the garden, the treasures found and put to use, the rescued donkeys in the vegetable patch and chickens in the watering cans.

Charlotte's mother gave her rare primulas and other items were reclaimed from design jobs -  a copper urn becomes a water butt and an old tennis court surround makes a fabulous fruit cage.

Charlotte is incredibly generous with her knowledge, a topiary expert and member of the European Box Topiary Society amongst many things, she explains how to take cuttings, and how important it is to study each shrub to see which way it grows before choosing a shape to tame it in to.  Larger prunings are used as part of her floristry designs, which she does for weddings and social events.

If invited, a sneaky peak inside the house reveals a mini Charleston, with cupboard doors covered in decoupage and woodblock prints and paintings strung up high into the rafters under the cat slide roof.

The last visit I took there was in February to see the 'bones' of the garden with a Garden Design class - I  cannot wait to visit again when the buds have burst in May.


  1. a delightful article Marian, i must say i have had to contend with many things in the vegetable garden but not yet a donkey!

  2. Absolutely beautiful garden. Your article is so true - the writers of those glossy magazines present us with an unattainable lifestyle that we can never emulate and are constantly striving to attain their level of perfection. Take Martha Stewart here in North America - a domestic icon who constantly pushes the bar higher and higher = we forget that she has a staff of hundreds who toil behind the scenes to attain her level of perfection. Nice to see someone who is actually living this dream.

  3. We do have the chickens, but the donkey is positively delightful! The topiaries are simply amazing, and I always have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who has such skill and patience.

  4. A lovely post, Marian. Always thoughtful, interesting posts, never filler.

  5. Thank you Marian, for showing me Charlotte's world, it is amazing.

  6. What a wonderful tour of a uniquely personal creation!
    Not to mention your design classes and 'field trips' which sound deliciously enticing.

  7. I loved this, you do write beautifully. Does the donkey eat all the plants? Nigel

  8. It is refreshing to find the real deal that the plastic ones attempt to imitate! This is a garden with enormous character and personality, like its gardener. I would love to visit, to meet Charlotte and her donkey and to wander in her wonderland for a little while.


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