“Rolling countryside and humble white railings at the gate lodge give no hint to the visitor of what lies down the narrow Listoke Avenue. Neatly clipped lawns appear to keep at bay borders heaving with one floral delight after another. This is truly a “gem” of a garden.”
Patricia Barrow has had a keen interest in gardening since childhood. She moved into Listoke with her husband Patrick during 1980 and started on the restoration of the walled garden. This has been a life long project for her, and although ill health now prevents her doing as much as she would like to, her love for the garden is still very evident and she gets much pleasure from showing guests around. The garden is a typical Edwardian walled garden with grass tennis court, orchard, vegetable garden and mixed herbaceous borders. Wide gravel paths intersect the garden and the whole is surrounded by mature woodlands.
Patricia had a vision for the garden to retain and improve on the original features using old fashioned and scented plants and allowing each plant to reach its natural potential without too much ‘clipping into shape’. No concrete is allowed and only natural materials are used, ie stone, brick and gravel.
Some of the plants worthy of note are a gaint Redwood (Wellingtonia) which was struck by lightening some years ago. ( 10′ of the burned top was removed and the growing point has now been taken over by a lower branch), a large flowering Hoheria(flowers in August) and a Cornus (rainbow) brought back from Italy. A yound Wollemi Pine is a recent addition. This tree was thought to be extinct until one was discovered in Australia several years ago. A large specimen Black Walnut tree dominates the lawn and grass tennis court and several unusual trees can be found in the arbouretum.
June is the most colourful flowering month with the Laburnum walk in full bloom intertwined with ‘Solanum Glasnevin’ and under planted with Allium and Geranium.
April is a wonderland of bullbs the length of the avenue and in the wild garden which is a recent addition specifically planted to attract bees and butterflies. Some species noted recently were the Holly Blue, Small Copper, Red Admiral. Peacock and Humming Bird moth.
The woodlands are home to a myriad of birds and a ‘dawn chorus’ walk is held here most years in May. Some birds noted in recent years were the Spotted Fly Catcher, Black Cap, Chiff Chiff, Willow Warbler and Spotted Woodpecker. There are also a pair of Ravens and several species of birds of prey.
The feature film “Asterix and Obelix: God save Brittania” starring Gerard Depardieu was filmed here in 2011, Listoke was the setting for the queen of Engand’s Garden in Roman Times.