Reading about the complex history of the gardens*, it becomes evident why it feels as if there is no overarching plan to their layout – there hasn’t been one, at least not for several centuries and certainly not for the garden in its present form, and so perhaps a piecemeal approach to the design is understandable. The broad walk was laid out in the nineteenth century, the high border has come, gone, and come again, the steps that go nowhere were added in the sixties, and the combined efforts of fire, plague, Victorian engineering and two world wars have taken their toll.
The presence of the gardeners was palpable, even while they themselves appeared to have been spirited away. I passed two wheel-barrows clearly abandoned mid-task, one by an obviously well tended working seed bed, and another on the other side of the gardens, where an invisible horticulturalist had evidently been in the process of weaving intricate hazel supports for the paeonies. It was, after all, lunch time (the gardens are only open to the public from 12.30pm – 3pm), and a gardener has to eat.
* In The Great Garden: a History of the Inner Temple Garden from the 12th to the 21st Century, Hilary Hale, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple 2010.