Did you love Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel “The Secret Garden” as a child, and wish you could spend time locked away in a hidden garden with Colin, Dickon, and a friendly robin? Here is an English house set within an 18th century walled garden that would allow just such a literary fantasy to flourish.
In the seven-bedroom house in Nottinghamshire, England, double-height oak-framed glass walls on the south side blur the boundaries between the house and the beautiful gardens, as well as bring great shafts of natural light throughout the almost 4,600-square-foot house. Designed by the local firm Allan Joyce Architects and set on about half an acre of planted grounds, the intriguing residence is available for US$2.14 million by The Modern House.
The owners are an architect and a landscape architect, so the home was stylishly designed with family life in mind, as well as eco-consciousness. Some of the house is buried in the earth to conserve heat, and there is also solar collection, heat recovery and rainwater harvesting. To boost the eco credentials, there are extensive vegetable gardens, a fruit orchard and a chicken coop.
On the main floor are a series of airy, unconventionally shaped living and dining spaces, all with solid oak floors. The living room includes a log burning stove and glass doors that open to Juliet balconies within the conservatory, while an oak wine rack above the kitchen cabinets doubles as a staircase, which leads up to the herb garden on the roof, with views to open fields over the garden’s brick walls.
Six of the bedrooms are on the lower level of the house, which makes for quiet, dark and peaceful sleeping; a pitched glass ceiling allows light to enter an otherwise dark lower-level corridor during the daytime. The master bedroom is nipped away on this lower level, with access to a private sunken courtyard, while the seventh bedroom is tucked up in a top-floor wing of its own that extends out over the car port. The lack of built-in closets in the bedrooms and the skimpy amount of bathrooms (three) will likely annoy many Americans. But to them we say: convert a couple of those bedrooms to baths.
The conservatory is arguably the jewel of the house, with indoor plantings and enticing views of the surrounding gardens. The mature gardens are beautiful in the English manner, with flower borders lined with yew and box hedges. There are also native grasses and wild meadow plantings, along with ponds that provide a haven for varied wildlife. A potting shed will please green thumbs, and several terraces are carved out of the gardens for quiet contemplation.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to dream about roasting a potato over a garden fire with Dickon.