Polly Nicholson’s stables do accommodate ponies but the more luxurious quarters have been set aside for her business as a cut flower grower: Bayntun Flowers. With vases in the stalls and collections of other receptacles dotted around under the hayloft, the building’s layout translates perfectly from animal husbandry to floristry.
(N.B.: Watch for our upcoming studio visit with Bayntun Flowers.)
Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer.
Polly’s outbuilding has been designed for efficiency over the centuries and she has continued with this ethos. An enfilade of light leads from the front of the stables as seen from the drive (above), straight out to the walled garden. A dovecote, with 1,500 perches made from Bath stone, sits above the coach house.
The exterior paintwork was mixed for Polly by Karen Naismith Robertson, a former paint specialist who now runs an interior design company. Welcoming collections of tulips are dotted along the driveway in stone containers, while larger metal tubs reside by the old coach house. They contain a mix of Tulipa Abu Hassan, Gavota, Cairo, Dom Pedro, and Brown Sugar. To calm the colors, some plain viridiflora tulips are threaded through.
Floors that drain easily; walls painted in gloss: the interiors were left as they were found. Polly’s collections of wirework containers and antique glass bottles are easily accommodated in the spacious and cool interior.
The flower room looks out over the walled garden. The giant stable doors keep the air flowing, supplemented by a glass door which allows in light but not wind and cold, in winter.
The horses have been moved to more democratic quarters on the other side of the coach house. The stalls on this side are easily accessed for urns and other equipment. Polly hangs alliums upside down, soon after flowering, to dry. They are mainly Allium christophii and A. schubertii: destined for wreath-making, they make a cheery decoration themselves.
Delightful colors, in different shades of glossy green, sing out in a setting that has been structurally restored. A paler version of the old color ‘Arsenic Green’, these steps lead to a hayloft and awesomely spotless dovecote.
The exteriors of the outbuildings were re-pointed. In place of “very heavy unsympathetic cement mortar,” limestone mortar was used by a local mason. The stone window surrounds and lintels were already pristine, having aged well.
The ivy-leafed hinges in the walled garden by the stables were hand-forged by a local blacksmith, now retired. The design was taken from a set of original hinges found on the main coach house doors.
Historic varieties of tulips are grown at Bayntun Flowers; these date from 1780 on. In this impromptu bunch: Absalon, Columbine, Insulinde, The Lizard, Joyeuse, Je Maintiendrai, and General Ney. The first four are available commercially; the last three are not, but we now know where to try to order them, as cut flowers.
For more charming outbuildings in the UK, see: