An English formal garden on a frosty winter morning is a thing of still beauty, held in a state of suspended animation until the sun rises, the air warms and the spell is broken. At Kingston Maurward near Dorchester a 35 acre formal garden clusters to the west of an C18th century house, a sequence of garden rooms, each with a particular character, divided by tall yew hedges, some sprouting topiary animals, others with windows cut into them that frame tantalising views from one space to another. Beyond the garden spreads the Dorset countryside and a stone's throw away is Stinsford church where the heart of Thomas Hardy is interred. The garden was laid out between 1915 and 1922 by Sir Cecil and Lady Hanbury, keen horticulturalists who owned La Mortola in Italy and endowed the Royal Horticultural Society with the land that became their renowned garden at Wisley in Surrey. Used as a fuel depot during World War II the grounds were in a desperate state of neglect when Dorset County Council bought the house in 1947. Restoration of the garden began in 1981. Kingston Maurward is now a college of further education and the gardens are open to the public, famous for their colourful displays of late summer exotics.