Imagine the following situation somewhere in the English countryside: You have been working hard together with your gardeners to get the park and the gardens of your estate into what you consider a decent shape. Now you are sitting in the drawing-room of your manor with a well-deserved glass of single-malt and with horror you watch a group – rather a gang – of cows trampling onto your afore quite acceptable lawn, heading for the roses. This is war!
Now, what could you possibly do against such an unwelcome intrusion? Build a fence, or even better, a wall?
Right! This of course would keep the bovine offenders easily outside. But on the other hand, you really enjoyed the wide, open vista from the windows of your stately home.
Now this is where the ha-ha comes in. The ha-ha is an invention to protect park, lawn and gardens without blocking the view. This is how it works: On the garden side of your house you build a very gentle slope, descending some 1.5 metres. At the lower end of the slope you erect a wall to regain the original level of the ground. So now, whenever stray cows are approaching from outside, they will walk down the slope and end up at the wall – no way in! And when you look outside your windows you will not really notice the ditch of the ha-ha, since the slope is going up so gently and blending in perfectly with the countryside.
What you have thus achieved is a non-trampled lawn, untouched roses plus peace of mind for yourself – all thanks to the ha-ha.
The ha-ha seen in the panorama is part of the gardens of Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire. The panorama is taken from the “cow-side”. The house and gardens of Mottisfont Abbey are well worth visiting, though once you start visiting English parks and gardens you will most probably want to visit more of them. So it is a good idea to join the National Trust
which is in care of quite a few of the most beautiful parks and gardens in England.