Cliff House

At the beginning of the week I visited an estate near Newport in Fife that has just been sold. The faux-Tudor-Italianate House is dilapidated, and to my eyes, not attractive The setting however is gorgeous and the much older oval walled garden just delightful. I sat in this garden listening to the birds sing and imagining as a gardener-poet might. My thoughts returned to this passage from Tristan by Thomas Mann: “. . . all those years are precious to me: especially the garden, our garden behind the house. It was terribly wild and overgrown, and the walls round it were crumbling and covered with moss; but that was just what gave it its great charm.”

I would not overly tidy this garden but I would plant a mulberry tree in the centre. I would fill the garden with sweet-peas, climbing scented roses and espaliers.

But the estate has reportedly been sold for three times the asking price by a Lottery winner who won £148 million.