PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Three Generations of Women Gardeners: Kiftsgate Court

Three Generations
of
Women Gardeners

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

 “When my grandparents bought Kiftsgate
just after the Great War the only garden was a paved area
in front of the Georgian portico which led down to a wooded hillside.”
Anne Chambers
granddaughter and current owner
I am a sucker for a guidebook, especially if it’s cheap. 

I bought the one at Kiftsgate Court for four pounds.  Written by Anne Chambers, the owner of Kiftsgate, the title of book tells the story:  Three Generations of Women Gardeners.  The garden has been open to the public since Ann Chambers, grandmother opened it in the 1930’s to benefit District Nurses.  Ann’s mother continued the tradition, opening the garden for NGS (National Gardening Scheme) and today, Ann Chambers opens the garden on a regular basis.

Kiftsgate Court is meticiously maintained.  Thanks to the guidebook, as you walk through the different sections of the garden you know which owner/gardener created which areas.
I have wanted to see a contemporary garden since I arrived in the UK.
“For some years we had looked for an oppportunity to add our own mark to the garden. 
When the surface of the hard tennis court became too uneven and our tennis was more a game of chance than skill, we decided to design a water garden that reflected our own enjoyment
of contemporary design and materials.” 
Anne Chambers
This was what I was waiting for.
The water garden completed the cycle of 3 generations of women gardens adding to  Kiftsgate. 

I took a moment to reflect on the tradition of living in one’s family house.  I know of only one woman who would like to live in her parents house.  She has two little girls and hopes that they will also want to live in that same house when it passes into their hands.  In America, we think it odd if people dont live in their “own place.”  We want to make our mark…by making a new place.  Kiftsgate Court has taught me the value of adding on to what generations before have built.

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