On the edge of what one thinks of as the High Cotswolds, between the towns of Burford and Charlbury, Wychwood Manor sits slightly north of the remains of the Wych wood, which John Piper describes in his 1953 Shell Guide ‘... now a fragment of a forest, deep and curious, that was once as large and important as the New Forest’ in ‘some of the best of the Oxfordshire landscape; open upland country under grass and corn ... with ochre stone walls ... and isolated clumps of sombre trees.’ It is ‘open’ and ‘upland’, hugely arable with good hedgerow trees but the general feel is not lush like the Windrush and shelter is important. Alex and Fiona Wilmot-Sitwell took some persuading therefore that the house needed to be set free from its hugger-mugger poorly planted suburban bonds and required us all to be as bold about the garden as they were already being about the house, a faux-Jacobean gabled confection built in the 1920s by a blind cement magnate who seems to have insisted that it be pointed with thick black mortar like a child’s drawing. The Wilmot-Sitwells had spent a long time looking for a suitable house in the perfect location and the first thing they did was chip away at the pointing. They were neck deep in portakabins and scaffolding when they called us in. They felt that we could provide the bold structure and full, generous planting that they had admired at Houghton, and hoped we could help them in connecting the garden to the surrounding countryside through the dark, enclosing woods and shrubs that grew around the house. The landscape, the trees, the spires, and the broad sweeps of farmland that lay all around, were frustratingly hidden, the house closely hedged in by mixed plantations. Only a decade later the rich internal tapestry of this garden has fully matured within the sheltering hedged copses, allees and parkland planted so relatively recently. An affirmation of the power of bringing bold vision to an existing landscape and using it cleverly and to great advantage to create an ancient feel in a surprisingly short space of time.