Monday 1 August 2022


Padua Garden at Keyneston Mill in Dorset
With summer holidays now in full swing, and the weather showing no signs of switching from sunshine to rain, you may have already reached the point of wondering how to fill those long weekends. Mooching around another National Trust property can quickly lose its appeal, and endless days on packed beaches can become a little stale, so what are the options for fragrance fans? After concentrating merely on the scent that comes from a perfume bottle, now is the perfect time to go back to basics. So, grab your lunch box as we enjoy a Blyton-esque "scented adventure in Dorset", and discover two gardens that are well worth a visit.

Let’s begin with the home of Parterre Fragrances. Back in 2015, Julia and David Bridger bought an old fruit farm down in Dorset called Keyneston Mill. The various crops that had been grown on the land in the past had resulted in varying pH soil levels, and so was perfect for planting experimental crops. Over the following seven years the farm has grown into five very specific fragranced areas, and certain ingredients are even harvested for use in their unique perfumes. It’s a very large area and so stout walking shoes are recommended to experience it in full, but you won't be disappointed.

Iris Flower at Keyneston Mill in Dorset
Keyneston Mill
has three gardens that are laid out with plants and flowers that correspond to the fougere, spicy and floral fragrance families, along with an expansive apple orchard that is an exciting haven for treemoss. What you also get to experience is David’s citrus project. He’s taken thirty varieties of fruit, along with an expansive selection of scented pelargoniums and geraniums, with the intention of whittling it down to the hardiest five to propagate on. Using their geraniums as a star ingredient in one of their scents is yet to happen, but you can still experience it in an exclusive geranium gin that is available from the on-site shop.

Our second stop sees us move to Careys Secret Garden, which focuses on both scent and ecology. This is a very new venture and is the idea of Simon Constantine, the perfumer behind ånd fragrances. It’s also the company’s new permanent home. The garden had lain undisturbed for forty years when his parents, the founders of LUSH, bought the house and grounds. It wasn’t even listed on the sales details. However, work soon began on restoring this semi-walled garden to its former glory and, alongside the traditional elements, Simon has included some scented surprises and ecological initiatives.

The Stumpery at Careys Secret Garden in Dorset
This garden is built around a central ornamental rose garden, with other areas including an expansive vegetable patch, herbaceous borders and an impressive selection of soft fruits. However, the scented aspect of the garden really comes through in the pelargonium selection and the resinous labdanums that are planted throughout. An intriguing section has to be the stumpery, which has been formed from the remains of the fallen trees. The dry woodiness that you find in this area, along with the ferns and lavender, gives the whisper of a gents cologne, and almost hints at the gardeners that have gone before.

Entry to Keyneston Mill is £9.50 and Careys Secret Garden is £7.50. Please check their websites for opening times. [Garden visits were gifted by the companies]

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