Planting for Posterity

In days gone by, benevolent landowners would happily plant slow growing yew hedges or avenues of oak and lime with the enjoyment of their heirs in mind. Nowadays, however, with the average country house changing hands every seven to 10 years, it takes a certain generosity of spirit for owners to plan and plant a garden knowing that their efforts may largely benefit future generations of complete strangers.

An instance of the first line of thinking is provided by the sale of elegant Terrick House, with 6.9 acres of glorious gardens and grounds at Terrick in mid Buckinghamshire, for which Savills (01494 731950) quote a guide price of £2 million. This was the child hood home of vendor David Gomme, who was four years old in 1953 when his parents bought the classic Queen Anne house for the then princely sum of £9,250. He later returned, after a gap of 30 years, to bring up his own family within the familiar walls.

Built in 1702 of brick under a clay tile roof, Terrick House, listed Grade II, was extended in the 19th century when it was the dower house to nearby Chequers and again in the 20th. With the exception of a smart new kitchen installed by the Gommes in recent years, rambling Terrick House has changed little in the 50 years or so of his family?s tenure: it has four fine reception rooms, a conservatory, a kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms and three bathrooms as well as two attached cottages.

Not so the gardens where his parents both dedicated gardeners spent years creating swathes of manicured lawn surrounded by clipped yew hedging, lavender and lavish herbaceous borders, with a huge, central sunken pond for added interest. ?It all made for more and more work,? says Mr Gomme ruefully he remembers his father planting (?for posterity?) some 30 years ago, many of Terrick?s wonderful trees, which include chestnut, beech, weeping willow, poplar, giant sequoia and weeping ash.

This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on September 1, 2005. To subscribe click here.