Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

Dogs Days of Summer

James, our oldest, has left Winchester College after five years. We attended the Leavers dinner on Saturday 5 July with mixed feelings of regret, sadness and joy. I will miss him being at school in Winchester - the children also went to prep-school nearby - but we move onwards to new adventures!

After a lovely evening of food, talk and a bit of champagne, the parents all filed into College to wait for the boys, who were dining in upstairs with the Headman. To hear the strains of the boys singing the school song 'Domum' echoing against the flint and stone in the dying light brought a tear to many of the parents' eyes. 

Domun Dinner 5 July

Fives Court Door

The history of Winchester College is well documented but, briefly, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, obtained the charter to found Winchester College in 1382. The buildings were started in 1387 and occupied in an incomplete state by March 1394. 

Mr Smith and The Boy

Mr Smith, also an Old Wyckhamist, pictured in the War Cloister with The Boy, during the Cantores Episcopi concert during Winchester Match. 

I live in hope that going to school surrounded by such beauty will instill my children with a love of art, history and architecture. I think in reality, it has instilled in them a keen fondness for underfloor heating and double-glazing!

Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning and we arrived, armed with Coronation Chicken and prosecco, at Henley Regatta. My sister-in-law, former gold-medal-winning rower turned personal trainer, Alison Smith, invited us for a day of sunshine and fun, including a rather jolly picnic. 

Henley picnic

School boaters and ties were out in force, much to the embarassment of my children... 

boaters ahoy

And, finally, at the end of the day, the easiest way to get home seemed to be on the river for one...

paddle boarder on Thames


Monday brought Hampton Court Flower Show which you can read about in more detail here and then a flying trip up to London to meet old college friend Emily who was in London for the FIRST TIME EVER. I met up with her and finally got to meet her lovely girlfriend Cristina, who has to be great not only because she makes Emily happy but, more importantly, because we share a birthday! Emily wanted to go to a pub, a 'real' pub, so we headed down Knightsbridge to the Zetland Arms for a few drinks and then to dinner in South Kensington before I made it back to Waterloo to get a late train home to Alton.


All my clients seem to have gone on holiday at the same time so I feel that I am able to really concentrate on my own garden for the first time in months. The building work here is coming along - the sash windows arrive tomorrow - and I really need to think about the next stage which is decorating and the garden. For the first time since moving here in January 2011, we will have a terrace large enough to actually sit at the table just outside the kitchen. This is a great sun trap in the morning and faces south over the green so we can spy on the village.

\future french doors


We will be putting French doors here out into the Rose Garden. Once upon a time, this was actually the site of the original front door to the farm house. We have the sales particulars from 1913 which show a lovely entrance porch here and the windows are all wooden sashes. Then in the next set of particulars dated from 1926, the door is gone and the windows have all been replaced with metal Crittle windows. The bench marks the bottom step out from the house. As this faces West it will be the most splendid place for evening drinks and summer meals. The setting sun turns the rooms on this side of the house pink and gold all summer long and to be able to throw open the doors to this rich warm light will be magical!

Our roses

Tomorrow I have been summoned to visit a garden nearby of a woman I met on Sunday afternoon at a wedding tea for our neighbours. She opens her garden for the National Gardens Scheme and wants me to write a blog post about it before the August opening. Coincidently, her sons were at Winchester College at the same time as my husband. Indeed a small world.

And Friday takes me to Loseley Park Garden Show, now run by the people who bring you the Garden Show at Stansted Park, one of my favourite shows. 

Watch this space for updates! 



Comments (2)

  1. Vanessa Cook:
    Jul 14, 2014 at 06:24 PM

    All this took
    me back many years, my brother was at Winchester and won the Princess Elizabeth Cup at Henley, never seen Winchester do well since, our son was at Shrewsbury and got to the PE semi- final and then did well while at Imperial for GB
    All miles away from plants !

  2. Rebecca Smith:
    Jul 15, 2014 at 09:45 AM

    Hi Vanessa,
    Sadly the Winchester crew lost their first race of Henley this year to Montclair School so by Sunday it was Eton v St Edward's Oxford, which Eton won.
    No plants at all in this post - you are right - just plans for future gardens when the builders are gone. After nearly three years of renovation, I cannot wait!

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