Open Gardens Weekend, Henfield, West Sussex

There are different types of gardens we can visit, those belonging to friends and family, gardens opened on occasions through the National Garden Scheme, National Trust Gardens and then we have small private gardens opened perhaps only once a year for events such as the Henfield Gardens and Arts Weekend.

I first visited the Henfield Gardens about 3 years ago and was impressed, leaving with some great ideas. These are ordinary gardens, not huge, some are really very small, but are all proudly shown off to the public.

Having waxed lyrical about the Henfield Gardens , I persuaded a friend to come with me last Sunday. We didn’t visit all 32 gardens and some were only opened on the Saturday. It is always a problem when reality doesn’t match up with expectation. Maybe we were unlucky, but in general the majority of the gardens we did visit, I found disappointing. Most were full of tables and chairs and people eating, I began to wonder if it was an open gardens or a food event. When I visit a garden, I want to be able to wander around spying out new plants and different planting ideas, not negotiate the eating public. One garden was impossible to walk around, with people sitting on the ground, in picnic fashion, eating barbecued burgers, so we departed quickly. Were they there for the food or were they actually interested in viewing gardens?

Having said that, there were a few that were worth spending a little time in and I came away with a short list of “Must Have” plants such as:

  • ROSA MUNDI

  • CERINTHE MAJOR ‘PURPURASCENS
  • KALMIA LATIFOLIA ‘OSTOB RED’

The last garden was a happy find. The small garden was on three sides of the bungalow and it was clearly a gardener’s garden. The owner had found room for a vegetable garden, a wildlife pond with decking and bridge, and lovely planting on the south facing side. This was the first year she had opened her garden and was clearly taken aback by the praise she had received from visitors, and it was well deserved.
A final mention must be made to Red Oaks Care Home. Entering the Home at the side of the expanse of lawn we were met by a row of greenhouses. It was an unusual and interesting sight, this was going to be a garden tended with love. The flowerbeds were striking, especially the one full of foxgloves and the brightest of poppies.
The other borders were packed with orange Geums and Salvia Jamensis “Hot Lips” – another plant that will go on my “Must Have” list.
Red Oaks used to be a care home run by the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society, and I thought how lovely it was to continue your love of gardening once you have moved into a care home and felt happy for the residents living there.
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5 thoughts on “Open Gardens Weekend, Henfield, West Sussex

  1. Hi Ronnie,

    I’m loving that last garden, I wish I had such a nicely rolling garden like that. It’d be too much work here to achieve something similar due to the garden being tiered – I’d have to move the steps for example – But it does prove just how important flow is/

    That Salvia you mentioned is lovely, I remember someone else featuring it on a blog last year and although I’m no fan of red, that is a lovely flower! (and of course I’ve quite an obsession with Savia and have at least 6 different species already)

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