Mary Berry's Garden at Penn

(8 June 2005)

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It was a lovely June evening for the South Chilterns Group visit to Mary Berry’s lovely house in Penn on 8 June.  Everyone met at the back of her lovely Queen Anne house having gone through a rather complex car parking exercise. There was an excellent turnout of around thirty seven people.  Mary Berry gave a brief talk and mentioned that the house had been the home of George Grove, who had written ‘Tit Willow’ and also ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’.  When someone admired the white doves on the roof, she said that it was not a good idea to have doves near the house, as could be seen from the mess on the roof. We had met by the glasshouse, which had an enormous vine inside. Behind this was Mary’s kitchen garden, which she said was an absolute necessity for a cook.  There was a large amount of different herbs, but no cabbages.  Mary said that she felt that having caterpillars eating them was so frustrating and that anyway Waitrose sold excellent ones.

Mary Berry Talks About Her Garden

In the garden was a huge pond, which Mary said was to be extended in July.  It had wild, yellow water lily on it and was surrounded by yellow flags with a few ducks and water fowl to be seen swimming peacefully on the water. Behind the pond was a long, old, brick wall which separated the grounds from the road.  Along this was a beautiful herbaceous boarder, the more muted colours were broken up by the bright red of Papaver poppies. 

The Pond Soon to be Increased in Size

The middle of the garden had rose walk.  The arches had been there when the house was bought, but had been repaired.  The roses were just coming out and were in an incredible condition. Mary said that they would look round for disease resistant varieties and they had obviously found the right ones.

The Rose Garden

Walking round to the back of the house along beautifully mowed lawn flowerbeds and rhododendrons, was a less formal area left as meadow, but with mown paths so it was possible to walk to the end of the property. Mary said that they had not bothered to plant wild flower seed in the meadow, although there were a few buttercups to give it colour.


The Meadow Area

Walking round the meadow the path then led back past an enormous syringa, whose flowers were coming to an end, although everything seemed very late for the time of year. It was decided this was due to the cold weather we had had. Past the new tennis court and the orchard we continued back to the kitchen garden.

The Kitchen Garden

At the end of the walk we then met in the glasshouse with the vine and had wine and nibbles. Apart from the vine there was also a lemon tree, which had fifteen lemons on it. Mary said that in fact very few things would grow For those who did not want anything alcoholic there was also elderflower cordial. Mary said that she normally made her own but had finished all her bottles from last year. She had also got an organic Macon, which was much appreciated. 

Wine in the Glass House

Everyone left with memories of a lovely evening and some even said they may go back for the plant fair that was to take place the following Sunday at Penn Church just down the road.

The Herb Garden