I like formal gardens – to a certain extent. I always find that when I visit a nicely laid out formal garden setting that it’s very soothing to have orderly hedges, clipped lawn, beautifully manicured flower beds where everything has it’s place. Having said that, I find that some formal gardens are boring. I guess to each it’s own but I sometimes wonder if someone’s put in a formal garden if only because they just couldn’t be bothered to put any thinking into the gardening in the first place. Houses with row after row of standard Iceberg roses, with the clipped box hedges and the mondo grass. It’s nice to look at but well…unimaginative. Which is one reason why I adore gardens with character. Yes they can have formal settings as well but there’s an undeniable stamp of individuality in them – where I can stand there and think, ‘yes this person has left their mark in the garden and in wandering through the garden I’ve had a glimpse into that persons’ soul’. Does that sound too nostalgic? I think not. We’ve all been to visit people’s houses which look like they’ve come straight out of a vogue magazine…and I always feel rather uncomfortable in those houses, almost as if I sat on a cushion wrong I’d be leaving an indelible mark of imperfection in the whole scheme of things. Just as in some gardens where I dare not pluck any flowers or even trample on the grass less one blade is somehow put out of place to spoil the overall effect. Then there are those houses and gardens which just roll out the welcome mat and say, ‘come on in, enjoy, be yourself’ and these are the gardens and houses that draw me back time and time again. These are the gardens and houses I endeavour to emulate for myself.