The Secret of the Tirthas was inspired by a unique garden in a remote part of Herefordshire. The garden consisted of over 20 hedged rooms, laid out over two acres behind a sixteenth century cottage. It was designed and constructed by the landscape designer Lance Hattat and his wife.
Here’s a sketch of the layout:
The rooms were inspired by seemingly random themes, ranging from South American gods to the designer’s favourite Edinburgh restaurant, to Easter Island statues and the elusive Miss Day.
Original and startling sculptures were supplied by a range of artists but particularly the talented Helen Sinclair.
The garden only covered a small area, but the intricate rooms with their range of features – ponds, towers, statues, brooks, summer houses, orchards, bridges, arches, fountains – all served to create a sense of a much larger space, with a seemingly endless sense of discovery and surprise.
The layout of the garden in The Secret of the Tirthas is largely based on the original layout, with a few notable exceptions – The Indian Garden is entirely new, for instance.
I’ve heard that the garden has been significantly dug out and replaced by a vineyard now, which is a terrible loss to those who knew and loved it (it was open to the public for most of the summer). I hope the books can help to preserve at least something of that special garden in rural Herefordshire.