In the small Cotswold village of North Cerney, in the beautiful Churn Valley, up on a hillside above the church, Cerney House looks down over a sloping garden between wide herbaceous borders to a small pool. The driveway approaches the house and gardens from the front, allowing the arriving visitor a view of the lawns and mature trees, before walking around to begin the visit behind the house with the Victorian walled garden. Go through the acorn gates and the vista ahead is up a gently sloping wide path to a pretty gazebo. This garden is surrounded by mature beech woodland and orchards rising up the hillside on three sides, making it a secluded, secret place, tucked into the shelter of the little valley.
Cerney House was built in approximately 1660 by the Rich family, and was re-modelled in Georgian style in 1780. It has been the home of Sir Michael and Lady Isabel Angus and their family since 1983. Their daughter and head gardener, Barbara McPherson, has worked with Lady Angus to develop the garden over the years, and this is a family run garden which the owners have worked hard to restore to its Victorian past, even uncovering the ice house.In the walled garden are trellises with climbing roses, under-planted with old fashioned herbaceous perennials. Formality is added by a knot parterre in box, filled with tulips in May, a good time to visit.
There are four quince trees and the garden is bordered by trellises of old fashioned roses. Further up is a laburnum arch leading to the scented garden. The Victorian walls protect the production of a range of organic vegetables, soft fruit and cut flowers, while the Victorian greenhouse and bothy remain in use in this working Kitchen Garden.Walking up the wide grass path with herbaceous borders and scented climbers on either side and emerging through the gate at the top of the walled garden, is the wooden summerhouse, added in the 1990s. Beside this are the two labelled herb gardens, one a medicinal garden, the other culinary. Leading from the herb garden is a path that runs up into the mature beech woods surrounded by hardy geraniums and more tulips. Cerney House gardens offer a wide variety of naturalised woodland plants to provide carpets of colour. Beginning with over 150 varieties of snowdrops amongst hellebores in the early spring, these are followed by daffodils, bluebells and, in May, wild garlic. Aconites and wood anemones complete this natural woodland walk, and of course the rich colours of the trees in autumn.
Below the walled garden is a lawn bordered with an arbour over a path which curves around the lawn sloping down to a terrace behind the house. Here there is a rockery where blue Centaurea Montana and wild oregano tumble over Cotswold limestone. Walking back around to the front of the house, the valley opens out onto lawns with mature trees. On one side is a wild flower meadow which is asserting itself with a limestone flora of blue cranesbill and vetches. Wide double borders are backed by a prunus hedge forming a grass avenue which leads down to the pond, and a selection of new trees in a small arboretum.Cerney House have a recognised National Plant Collection of Tradescantia, flowering between June and September. It is a sensitively planted garden, taking account of the climate and conditions which allows the plants to grow as naturally as possible, creating a relaxed romantic feel.