This walled garden is almost an acre in size. In the early part of the 20th century it was transposed by Carlota Oppenheimer into a pleasure garden in the Italian style. Many features remain including the fishpond, sundial, fountain, stone seats, pergola and the York-stone paving. During the years of Raymond Oppenheimer’s tenancy 1945-1984 the garden was put to grass. Before Henk Gerritsen was asked to redesign the garden it was felt that despite the magnificent climbing roses and some exotic South African flora planted in the raised beds, it lacked coherence. Perhaps the large and rigid expanse of lawn was the culprit?
In 2000 plans were submitted to introduce a giant “caterpillar” in the form of an outlandishly clipped box hedge whose weavings would not only visually connect both halves of the garden but would also define the surrounding plantings in ways indicative of nature, namely freely and informally.
Simultaneously this concept alleviated the need to redesign existing pathways. On the south side of the caterpillar, plants of a tall and rugged disposition were chosen, partly for their ability to compete with the indigenous ground elder, which in time would become an integral part of the planting, and partly to juxtapose with the smaller somewhat meeker gravel plants. On the north side of the box hedge connecting the existing raised beds with South African plants a thick layer of gravel was deposited. This is the domain of the drought loving plants. A strip of lawn 4 metres wide acts as a buffer to curtail the advancing ground elder.
Many visitors in 2002 were amazed at how quickly the plantings had established themselves; the gardeners were often asked “what plant is that?”