Enlarged and re-designed by Wa-terers in 1955, the original â€˜bonesâ€™ are still there, but it was at one time overgrown and overcrowded, and the pattern was blurred. Over-exuberant â€˜doersâ€™ such as forsythia, philadelphus and cotoneaster had virtually taken over, and thinning out was urgently called for before many smaller and rarer plants were smothered. But, in the words of former owner Mrs. Smyth Os- Courting colours Oxfordshireâ€™s Thorpe Mandeville Court sits amidst the careful planting of a much-loved garden. Text and photographs by Peter Coats bourne, â€˜the same dedicated gardener who had been in charge of the garden for twenty-four years had kept it in generally good order.â€™ On taking possession, Mr. and Mrs. Smyth Osbourneâ€™s first care was the formal rose garden in front of the house, which looked very hard and stark. Most of the hybrid teas had died off, or were doing very badly. â€˜We wanted to soften the effect of the stone walls and paving by planting bushy shrub roses and foliage plants around the outside borders, and persuade low plants to sprawl out onto the paths. We encouraged Dianthus and Anthemis and plants like that to seed themselves between the paving stones. â€˜Some areas had become very overgrown. We tamed the wilderness gradually, but still tried to keep it fairly wild. There is a mass of bluebells under the grey willow tree, rooms, an opportunity is presented to create what she terms desirable and intriguing differences in ambience. She cites the darker tones in the study which give a theatrical but mildly serious mood, whereas the lighter shades used in the drawing- room are rather more light-hearted and welcoming.