TV PRESENTER and gardening expert Charlie Dimmock has officially opened a new garden near Stockbridge.

The exciting new oriental garden at Houghton Lodge Gardens was opened with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, May 25.

Houghton Lodge is a Grade II listed “Cottage Orné” surrounded by mature trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the River Test. 

In the new garden, visitors can explore its cherry orchard, and rose garden, and enjoy the joinery of the beautiful Torii Arch, Moon Gate and Nikko Bridge, as well as new water-loving marginal plants growing on the banks of the pond and island, and a moss garden on the bank of the stream.

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The Moon Gate provides a doorway between the new oriental garden and the old 18th century garden leading visitors into the park - abundant with cow parsley and the blue spires of camassia. Visitors can make a wish by tying a ribbon to the branches of the twisted willow - a popular Japanese custom.

Hampshire Chronicle:  Twisted willow Twisted willow (Image: Newsquest)

Charlie said: "It is great to see money being put into establishing a new garden and developing the garden. I am sure you will get lots of people here because it is a beautiful garden. 

"What I love about oriental gardens is there is something for every season. Whether it is winter time when you have the evergreens, but then you have got springtime as well. It will be fabulous at any time of the year."

The owner of the garden, Sophie Busk, said the inspiration to make the garden came from a visit to the Japanese garden at The Chateau de Courances in France.

Hampshire Chronicle: The new gardenThe new garden (Image: Newsquest)

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She said: "The colours, shapes and sounds made a lasting impression on me. Too much time in lockdown made us restless and impatient for a new project.

Hampshire Chronicle: The new gardenThe new garden (Image: Newsquest)

"We think this is a fabulous addition to the garden at Houghton Lodge and unique to the Test Valley, and we very much look forward to watching it grow with our visitors."

Richard Taylor has designed the garden by landscape designers Taylor Tripp.

Charlie’s Gardens moulded the landscape and created the stream.

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