Sun House Garden
30/09/13In June I had the privilege of photographing the garden a Sun House, a private garden in Bramhall. I came across the garden when it was open to the paying public for their National Garden Society weekend.
The NGS is a charitable organisation that organises the visitation of private gardens by the general public in exchange for a small fee. It only cost a shilling a head when the first gardens opened in 1927, the £8000 raised that first year was donated to nurses on the Queen’s Nurses Institute. After the World War II the NGS helped restore many of the National Trust’s gardens after they’d were turned over to grow vegetables for the war effort. The fee remained at a shilling a head until 1970, when it was decided that such a lowly charge wasn’t raising the money it ought to. The fee’s may have changed, but the NGS still has a royal connection with the Prince Charles as patron and the money raised goes to various medical charities.
It not easy to spot Sun House as it is set back from the main road with the front garden is shaded by large trees and is quite remarkable in itself, with mini Easter Island statues facing the front door. But it is back garden that holds many of the surprises. I’m not sure if the house takes its name from all Sun that decorate the house and garden. Or the terracotta wall mounted, pebble mosaic or hand painted ceramic Suns decorates the garden because of the name. What I do know is that there are quite of few of them and its always a pleasant surprise to spot a new one.
The side gate entrance is guarded by the first of two full sized terracotta warriors, this one nobly kneeling with one his hand across his chest with the other on his samurai sword. To the rear of the house on the patio on a table was a colourful plate of cakes, which on closer inspection turned out to cacti set in ceramic bun cases. The terracotta warrior is not the only garden guardian; in front of the patio was a gravel area where I feared to tread in case the crocodile snapped at the legs of my tripod.
The central strip of the lawn is separated front to back by a border of rhodendrum other mixed shrubs. To one side is the wooden garden swing set behind planters of pansies. And in the top half and in the bottom half is along wooden arbour set apart from the lawn by a border of purple alliums amongst other flowers. Shaded by trees over ahead, under the arbour is a stone bench, this one garden by a stone lion.
The left hand side of the garden has the three water features. At the top of the garden near the house is the ornamental pond, with three levels and two waterfalls. Following the hidden path on the left hand side of the garden you pass the mosaic bench leading the second terracotta warrior, this one standing but posed ready for action. Also on the left were the green houses and vegetable gardens. Beyond those is the middle pond which is by far the largest of the three with its own mini bridge leading to the wooden gazebo. At the bottom end of the garden in a small clearing amongst the trees is the spring, which unfortunately is not a natural one with the water spouting turquoise coloured half sun set amongst inlayed scallop shells that falls onto the head of Zeus in the form of a ceramic tile.
My descriptions don’t do the garden justice so have a look at my photo on the Garden Photography gallery : http://www.sentientphoto.co.uk/Gardens
Sun House is only one of the 3,500 or so gardens opened each year. If they are all as well designed, photogenic and interesting as Sun House then I shan’t be running out of gardens to photograph any time soon.