Dunsborough Park is a stunning country estate situated in Ripley, Surrey, just thirty minutes outside of London. My first impression was of an enchanted magical garden that unravels its wonders as you stroll around each corner.
There is a sense of the theatrical as you stumble across the stone characters and ornaments which flit in and out of view amongst the flowers. Have I finally found my fairy-tale secret garden?
So, before I get carried away let me tell you some history.
The garden was reopened to the public in 1997 after being restored by private owners Baron Dolf and Baroness Caroline Sweerts de Landas Wyborgh.
Whilst renovating Dunsborough Park the couple discovered their English country home, dating back to 1580, held its secrets.
It is said they discovered one hundred and twenty three Champagne bottles submerged at the bottom of the swimming pool! This definitely is a teasing hint of the riotous parties that would have taken place over history.
One irrepressible owner was Charles Hughesdon, described in his Daily Telegraph obituary on his death, at the age of 104, in April 2014, as ‘a daredevil aviator, champion ball- room dancer, insurance broker and airline executive who married the film star Florence Desmond, and boasted of affairs with Shirley Bassey and Margot Fonteyn’.
There were also visits by the likes of Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, who is thought to have spent one of her wedding nights there.
Opened To The Public
Dunsborough Park shares its beautiful gardens with the public at select times of the year. There are various open days, charity events, as well as holding weddings and concerts.
Three main seasonal interests have been developed here; spring is the tulip festival, roses feature in June, and a dahlia display in September. But it is the tulips for which they are perhaps most famous.
Each year Danish born Caroline brings bulbs over from the Netherlands and has them planted at end of November.
Spring arrives and the 20,000 bulbs burst into life and produce spectacular colour in the wild meadow down by the folly bridge. Seeing these stunning tulips dance on the breeze is a truly breathtaking sight.
If you love photography the folly bridge makes a perfect backdrop to all this colour. Designed by Braxton Sinclair and built in 1939 the folly in May is smothered in sweet smelling purple wisteria reflecting prettily into the water below.
The 100-acre estate is brought to life through its garden architecture, abandoned Edwardian greenhouses and vistas.
The garden feels like it is divided into rooms via walls or yew hedges such as the rose walk, the water garden with its wisteria clad Folly Bridge and the vibrant tulip meadow.
The perfect symmetry of the Italian garden with its long lake is so pleasing to the eye. And of course I need to mention the magnificent 300 year old mulberry tree which still bears fruit.
Dunsborough Park really is a special place to wander and discover a perfect English garden full of wonder, beauty and romance (I am thinking Bridgerton).
I look forward to returning in June (with my picnic rug) to breathe the fragrance of the roses in bloom and welcome summer.