The soil is a gardeners dream: a slightly alkaline, medium loam without clay, which suits the many tender-ish perennials, such as argyranthemum, and the herbaceous perennials. The roses, shrub and climbing, on the other hand, do need some extra help. The owners have discovered that the mushroom compost which was used for a number of years did not serve, and they have returned to the old-fashioned virtues of farmyard manure. Broughton Castle is two miles west of Banbury on the A4035Shipston-on-Stour road. The castle and gardens are open from May 18 until September 14, on Wednesdays and Sundays, together with Thursdays in July and August and Bank Holidays, from 2pm until 5pm. Groups are welcome throughout the year, by appointment (tel: 01295-262624 or 01295- 720041) Insofar as anyone ever feels truly satisfied with their garden, the owners are happy with theirs. Although keen and knowledgeable gardeners, they have plans for only slight amendments in the future. In the park, where there was once an alder swamp a lovely, curving lake has recently been dug. Already some planting has begun round the edge and it will continue next winter when the soil is well settled. A family which has survived in one place for more than 600 years never entirely rests on its laurels Creating space Small dimensions do not cramp the style of this London pied-a-terre. By Sally Griffiths When decorator Giles Vincent was asked to rework this London pied-a-terre, he drew on his rigorous training in building design.