There are some gardens open to the public that are worth a visit at any time of the year because every visit has something different to look at. Denmans Garden, Fontwell, near Chichester is just one of those gardens. It is full of interesting planting, most of which seem to be self-seeding. The gravel stream running through the garden is a perfect example of this.
I went recently with two friends who are keen gardeners, one of which has recently completely dug up her garden to start all over again and was looking for planting ideas. Why the feet? Some Twitter/Blogging friends posted photos of friends feet at RHS Chelsea and I thought they were great and added some amusement.
On entering Denmans you immediately walk into the diverse and well stocked plant centre, with an interesting selection of sculptures, wire trellises and unusual garden furniture. I usually always find some plant to buy to tuck into a corner of my garden.
This is the first view of the main garden as you enter through the gate. It gives a tantalising taste of what is to come.
As you follow the gravel path you realise that the garden is made up of room-like sections. The last time I visited, much earlier this year, the planting was just coming through and the architecture was much more noticeable. What struck me this time was how abundant it had all become, almost to the point of being uncontrollable and untidy. However, I must point out that this is entirely my own opinion and others may well disagree with me.
Plant question 1. There was a lot of this pinky/lilac plant about and we could not find what it was called. Any ideas please?
I love the bronze hue that Rudbeckia gives to a garden. Both these and the Echinacea looked extremely healthy, unlike mine that are devoured by slugs and snails before they get anywhere near this size. It is clearly the gravel that is keeping them at bay.
I am by no means a plant expert and whilst between the three of us we were able to recognise and name most of the plants and shrubs there were a few that stumped us.
Plant question 2: My friends thought this was a Strawberry Tree but when I looked it up, it doesn’t have the correct leaves. This is a large shrub, about 5ft in height and at least 6ft wide, if not more, growing in bright sunshine but it clearly grows well in shade too, because we found another one growing healthily under a large tree. Can you name it please?
Plant question 3: This bush fascinated me, the yellow flowers were nowhere near as interesting as the buds. They seemed almost alien and were certainly ugly. Do you recognise it?
We then headed back towards the Top Lawn with a magnificent Acer, Acer palmatum Senkaki.
After a most enjoyable wander around any garden, a cup of tea is the order of the day. There is an excellent Garden Cafe at Denmans, you can always rely on the food being good and as for the cakes, well……!! We had a delicious lunch but did avoid the temptation of the cakes.
When we left Denmans, we crossed the busy A27 dual carriage way and headed towards The Aldingbourne Country Centre, run by the Aldingbourne Trust which provides a range of services for people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. It is well worth a visit, to see the greenhouses and the workshops. The shop sells items made by those who attend Aldingbourne as well as local craftsmen. There is also an extremely reasonably priced small plant centre.
We took a look at the Woodland Walk, an area full of activities for children. In the woodland area we found an interesting wood and clay Bothy built by Ben Law a Sussex Woodsman known for his timber-framed eco-builds.
On final note of this long post, which I hope you are still following, as we left the woodland walk my eye caught this wonderful bronze and wooden piece. I realise that I missed off all the wording at the bottom. It said “Kids Love Earth”.