I have been to Parham Gardens near Storrington in West Sussex, four times, each one has been different experience. My first visit, quite a few years ago, was at the end of the Summer and the garden was looking overgrown and well past its prime. To be honest I came away slightly disappointed. The next two visits were this time of the year when Parham hold their Garden Weekend Event, always well attended and heaving with people.
On 8 July 2012, was my first time at this event and it rained! That afternoon, I wrote my post “Sunshine and Showers at Parham’s Garden Weekend“. I commented at the time how lush the borders were looking, which was not surprising due to the amount of rain.
My next visit to the Garden Weekend was last year, July 2013. A very hot day, with lots of people and unfortunately a day, being in the throes of receiving chemotherapy, I didn’t really enjoy and was not feeling on top of the world.
Yesterday was my friend’s birthday and when I asked him where he would like to go as a day out he said he would like to visit Parham. Bearing in mind it had been forecasted as the hottest day of the year with possible temperatures of 30C we headed off armed with sunblock and sun hats.
It was lovely to arrive without lots of other people there. It gave us the necessary time to wander around the garden at our leisure. The large flowerbed in the entrance was striking with its dark and rich colour scheme, bordered with Chard with brightly coloured red stems, in the middle are Dahlias – Bishop of Llandaff , Cannas and tall spires of Red Lobelia.
I apologise to readers and Parham for the poor quality photographs. I decided to leave my Nikon DSLR at home, instead taking my small Fuji, not renowned for excellent clarity. Coupled with the knowledge that no-one should take photographs in the middle of the day when the light is exceptionally bright, means that I am unable to give Parham justice for the wonderful colour that met us down every path and at every turn of the garden.
Tom Brown, the Head Gardener at Parham since 2010, has produced a garden that is spectacular and abundant. The colour matching in the Walled Garden, of hot colours down one path and pinks down another gives great inspiration. It was good to hear the whole garden humming with bees and busy butterflies.
The hot border was packed full of plants such as bright orange Coreopsis, Pink Echinacea, Achillea, red Sedum, Rudbeckia and Kniphofia, all creating a blaze of colour.
This is in contrast to the cooler pink and purple border, which was just as attractive to the wildlife. I took pics of deep maroon, almost black, Scabious and an interesting late flowering dark red drumstick Allium which appeared in many parts of the garden but they are not of good enough quality to reproduce on the blog. Take it from me they were wonderful.
Parham Garden is a series of rooms which always appeals to me. I love to wander around a garden when each turn presents you with something new. It was impossible in the heat to walk past the Herb Garden, the spicy perfumes just wafted around to invite you in.
The next room was the Rose Garden. Clearly, this would have been splendid a month or so earlier, there were few roses left, and an abundance of Nepeta. There was one rose that continued to flower and sadly not being a rose expert I am unable to give it a name, but it was so pretty. Can someone name it for me please? UPDATE: This rose is called Queen of Sweden
Unlike many Cutting Gardens, where all the flowers are in straight rows, Parham have redesigned this part of the garden with meandering paths to enable the visitor to wander through the flowers.
I was particularly taken with the fabulous Sweet Pea “Wigwam” which you could walk into and be surrounded with the heady perfume of very impressive Sweet Peas which made me very envious! The stems were long, thick and strong, totally the opposite to my weedy short thin stemmed blooms. UPDATE: Parham inform me that these beautiful Sweet Peas are John Gray, Charlie’s Angels, Kippen Cream and April in Paris.
At this point, my camera decided it was not going to take any more photos, advising me the memory card was full! How silly of me to only have put in a 258Mb card, but there you go these things happen. It does mean that I can’t show you the vegetable garden, where each bed is bordered with box hedging, or the Pleasure Gardens with Veronica’s Maze and the lake. There is also a well stocked Plant Sale area with healthy and well priced plants. However, you will be able to see these for yourself when you visit.
Parham Gardens and House is open from 12 – 5:30 pm every Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday in April and October, and from May to September on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Bank Holidays. Also it is free to RHS members, which is a bonus.