The Bohemian Charms of Charleston26th August 2013 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
On a perfect summer’s day, a colleague and I spent a morning with Mark Divall, the charming and modest head gardener at Charleston. What a treat. While she interviewed him, I was left to wander around on my own in this wonderfully atmospheric place (it was a day when it’s closed to visitors). I half expected to hear a burst of laughter echoing down the years, or catch a glimpse of a willowy figure disappearing amongst the towering hollyhocks. All a bit fanciful I know, but there is a real sense of it being much as it was in their day – it was all a bit crumbling and shabby then – and it is now. If you like houses and gardens to be pristine, this isn’t a place that will appeal to you, but for everyone else it’s an opportunity to visit a place where convention was never followed and art was all. And should anyone be fairly local and have horticultural experience, Mark would love to have some more volunteers to help him in the garden.