When in Dorset, England, make your way to the Priory Hotel in Wareham. The Priory sits quietly along the River Frome in Wareham, and boasts four acres of intoxicating gardens.
I visited in June, at the height of the perennial show. Below, poppies are just beginning to bloom along the River Frome.
Valerian is ubiquitous in the English countryside. Here, it grows out of stone walls that contain pockets of soil.
Peonies, framing the lawn and the river terrace, are about to burst into bloom.
The Priory’s gardens are filled with roses. To support the climbers and other vines. gardeners have constructed beautiful, rustic, sturdy trellises and arbors from local wood.
The arbors and fence below are made from local raw timbers.
Stonework is the backbone of the Priory’s gardens. Below, a cast stone bench complements the stone walls and walkway.
Roses cascade over the stone wall and arch, below.
The Brits’ use of plant supports is practical and effective. Here, simple chicken wire supports sweet peas climbing a wall.
Water features are around every corner. This one is in a secret courtyard. The geometric stone pond and walkway are softened by pockets of perennials.
Even the garage (pardon, car park!) is charming.
I could get used to poking my head out of this window every morning.
Perennial beds are enclosed by high evergreen hedges with arched entryways.
Other garden rooms are separated by stone retaining walls, with entrances defined by broad stone steps. We played a mean game of croquet on this lawn just before leaving (kicking and screaming).
Calla lilies grow along the water’s edge.
This staddle stone sits happily along the river, nestled near the ginormous leaves of gunnera.
Campanula scampers up the stone.
The gardeners stake the peonies with bamboo sticks and twine.
They take their composting seriously at the Priory!
The Priory exemplifies English gardening at its best. A large expanse of property has been crafted into formally laid out rooms, made intimate and alluring through the use of rustic complementary materials and a rich and informal palette of plants.