A lovely visit a week or so ago to Mapperton - a fine Jacobean mansion in the east Dorset countryside, with a garden slightly hidden away - suddenly opening up as you walk round a yew hedge protected the high lawns, and gradually relaxing from formal to wild as you follow a narrow valley downstream. At the top of the garden is a lovely Jacobean style pavilion, with an Italianate formal garden immediately below, laid out in the 1920s. The severity is softened by moss and flowers in the steps, and a wilder, more English planting in some of the beds on either side - though there is too much topiary for my taste, a continental fad I have never liked.
Beneath that are two formal Jacobean fish pools, one since adapted for swimming, optically confusing as the banks on either side slope sharply downwards, making the water surface look almost tilted. Below that again, is a wild woodland garden, the site of extensive planing in the 1950s. The whole is overlooked by the mansion, and otherwise surrounded by Dorset countryside, woodland and pasture, with a view of distant hills. As the the valley drops almost directly due south, its a warm and welcoming garden whenever there is any sun, and is full of nooks and crannies to sit, read, and to think.