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Outbuilding of the Week: A Stable for Horses and Flowers in Wiltshire

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Outbuilding of the Week: A Stable for Horses and Flowers in Wiltshire

May 12, 2017

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.

The exterior of the stables and coach house, dating from the 1760s.
Above: The exterior of the stables and coach house, dating from the 1760s.

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.

Tulips outside Bayntun Flowers in Wiltshire.
Above: Tulips outside Bayntun Flowers in Wiltshire.

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.

The original design of the old stables is one of glorious efficiency.
Above: The original design of the old stables is one of glorious efficiency.

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.

Polly’s flower room.
Above: Polly’s flower room.

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.

A former horse box.
Above: A former horse box.

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.

Dried alliums are tied to the hayloft steps, their stems pierced and strung.
Above: Dried alliums are tied to the hayloft steps, their stems pierced and strung.

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 stable doors from the walled garden.
Above: The stable doors from the walled garden.

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.

Ivy-leafed hardware is a leitmotif around the outbuildings.
Above: Ivy-leafed hardware is a leitmotif around the outbuildings.

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.

Useful creamware makes a monochrome collection. The vase cupboard is painted the same color as the exterior of the stables.
Above: Useful creamware makes a monochrome collection. The vase cupboard is painted the same color as the exterior of the stables.
A simple jug of “leftover” tulips.
Above: A simple jug of “leftover” tulips.

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:

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