The English Garden

THE ART OF Autumn Borders

Old houses and their gardens tend to come with a history. On the one hand you might inherit delightful parterres, clipped topiary and elegant, mature planting; more chequered possibilities exist, however, and when Petra Hoyer Millar and her husband Luke moved into their Oxfordshire home nearly five years ago, they found themselves faced with almost an acre of unfortunate and untended space, and soil that was the pinnacle of mediocrity.

“It was rather sad,” she recalls. “When our predecessors were here, it was the wife who was the gardener, but she died shortly after they moved in and he didn’t really venture out after that. We had to go in with tangled up in a seriously overgrown shrubbery. And it was only once we’d got that under control that we realised how bad the walls were.”

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