In the main, I abhor pub gardens. Nasty ill-mown grass, ghastly childrens' play areas where no self-respecting child would be tempted to play, banned dogs and nasty, splintery wooden tables arrayed with lonely ashtrays.
If you ever happen to be winding by Petworth in West Sussex on a day when the sky is blue above, birds are on the wing, the snail's on the thorn and all's right with the world - then a small diversion to the village of Tillington to the Horse Guards Inn will complete your happiness. It is rare a thing to sit in a pub garden endowed with unpretentious cottage garden charm, careless whimsy and so obviously tended by a loving hand.
The garden at the Horse Guards Inn is the nearest thing you'll get to a hug.
Delightful touches abound; small upturned terracotta flower pots remove the peril of any sharp snags on the hurdle fencing; sunflowers past their best still sway gaily amongst a profusion of cottage plants providing food for scavenging birds and whirling butterflies alight on the budlejas as you sip your bitter shandy. Scattered hay bales make suprisingly comfy seating amongst more traditional wooden tables and benches whilst courgettes, fennel, white cosmos and herbs all thrive side by side in cheerful harmony. Plants and trees are potted higgeldy-piggedly in old lead planters and old stone flagons decorate the paths.
There are too many seductive touches to this garden than I care to mention. It has no grand planting plan or clever plants and certainly the snottier garden critics amongst you won't see what all the fuss is about. This garden isn't in the style of anything, doesn't try to be something it isn't and therein lies it charm. It's there because a pub needs a garden for the punters but the wise Misha, the garden's creator and publican, understands that a public space and a private garden needn't be mutually exclusive.
Her husband Sam wryly commented, "You know what they say, a well-tended garden - a neglected husband..."
(Oh I doubt that very much Sam.)
Play it again Misha.
P.s. Sunday lunch was good too and the offered cream teas could not have a more apt backdrop.
|Even the log pile was architectural and stylish, whilst no doubt providing a luxury apartment for over-wintering lace wings, so the ecological slant was accommodated too.|