Adventures in wonderland
Country Life UK|July 28, 2021
From the new Italianate walled garden, paths and bridges lead on through the endlessly exciting garden of Colebrook House, Blockley, Gloucestershire
Tiffany Daneff

ONE would never guess from the street that there would be so much to discover in the garden behind Colebrook House, a Grade II-listed, 17th-century Cotswold-stone building. It would be charming, of course (the village of Blockley was the setting for the ‘Father Brown’ series), with a narrow stream, the Cole Brook, running prettily along the leafy front garden before disappearing in a sudden rush into the ground. But no one ever anticipates the size of the garden nor the series of surprises that await behind the high walls.

Gardens are the result of a combination of influences, the most important of which are its location and its owners. In this case, both have united to produce many delightful and entirely unexpected effects, the first being the new Italian-influenced walled garden that slopes away from the terrace outside the kitchen and down towards Blockley Brook, which runs along the bottom of the garden.

Parallel to the street, and fed by the aforementioned Cole Brook, this clear-running trout stream is the reason the village was the centre of the silk industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. It also results in a garden that slopes down from the house to the brook and, via two rustic bridges, continues steeply up the opposite bank to the treeline.

‘We’re very keen on Italy and had spent a wonderful time at a beautiful hotel, l’Andana, in Tuscany, and definitely wanted elements from that in the walled garden,’ says music producer George Apsion. With his wife, Melissa, who has a background in fashion and design, he moved to Gloucestershire from London with their young family three years ago.

Great gardens were something Mr Apsion had grown up with, from childhood visits to his grandfather in Cheshire to the historic gardens at Hodnet Hall in Shropshire, where his aunt and uncle live. ‘That faded when I was in London and sparked again when we came here,’ he says. Now, he is very much the driving force behind the garden’s reimagination. In this he has been guided by landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan—an inspired introduction by the Apsions’ architect.

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