There is a mythical sort of gardener that the ‘celebrity’ gardeners spin us – living an idyllic life of home grown home cooked food in a self decorated house surrounded by beautiful objects all made or found by loved ones.
When the celebrities then offer us a catalogue of all these things to be found around them, and all for sale, the image tarnishes and the reader feels like a child who has bitten into a plastic strawberry. For money cannot buy the life style they are promising, and magazines cannot teach us to be original.
What a breath of fresh air then, a bolt from the skies, to meet a true Enchanted Gardener. An artist by calling and gardener by bent, Charlotte Molesworth lives in a cottage tucked behind a village green hidden from view. The cottage belonged to Cherry Ingram’s gardener (He of Japanese Cherry fame – of whom Vita Sackville-West said ‘his advice is good enough for me, and should be good enough for anyone’).
But no Wonderland would exist without an Alice, and the true delight of this visit is to sit and drink a cordial (nettle and aloe with a twist of lemon) and listen to the stories of the making of the garden, the treasures found and put to use, the rescued donkeys in the vegetable patch and chickens in the watering cans.
Charlotte’s mother gave her rare primulas and other items were reclaimed from design jobs – a copper urn becomes a water butt and an old tennis court surround makes a fabulous fruit cage.
Charlotte is incredibly generous with her knowledge, a topiary expert and member of the European Box Topiary Society amongst many things, she explains how to take cuttings, and how important it is to study each shrub to see which way it grows before choosing a shape to tame it in to. Larger prunings are used as part of her floristry designs, which she does for weddings and social events.
If invited, a sneaky peak inside the house reveals a mini Charleston, with cupboard doors covered in decoupage and woodblock prints and paintings strung up high into the rafters under the cat slide roof.