Arriving at Allt-y-bela feels a little like driving straight into a picture, perhaps because I know it so well from all the magazine pictures I’ve seen. Despite this familiarity, it’s an impressive arrival, after driving a mile or so down a track.
We’d booked a couple of nights bed & breakfast here at the country home in Wales of renowned garden designer, Arne Maynard. It’s a fascinating place, part of the house has medieval origins having been rescued from ruin by The Spitalfields Trust. About 10 years ago, it came into the hands of Arne Maynard, who’s worked his magic, transforming a large, but simple white building into a thing of beauty.
The house lies in a bowl of countryside, surrounded on all sides by rolling hills, with no other buildings in sight. As you see the walls have been painted an ochre/bright mustard colour. It changes in different light through the day, from a cool shade in the early morning light to glowing tones in evening sunshine.
The designers trademark grand-scale topiary is placed around the garden near the house. Pretty perennials fill the borders between the big shrubs, & pots of chocolate cosmos, begonias & Dianthus have been placed eye-level on low walls & tables.
It was great to meet Steve Lanin, the head gardener, we’ve followed each other on Instagram for a while, so it felt like we’d already met. It was a joy to spend time at the end of his working day talking about the garden. He’s a very adaptable, creative gardener. As well as the usual tasks, he creates the hazel tunnel in the vegetable garden, complete with porthole window onto the hillside, to arranging lovely vases of garden flowers for the house.
There’s something about a well designed space, inside or out, that makes you feel comfortable & happy. Not just luck of course, there are basic principles, like simplicity, proportion & scale that make it work. Coupled with all this, the sun shined, the rain held off & we came home feeling recharged & rested.
I hope you’ve managed to get away this summer, you can find out about staying at Allt-y-bela here.
all photos: Jill Anderson.