A Garden Restoration Story with Saga Holidays

The 28th July was my birthday (66 – eeek!!) and my first Saga Holiday.  A Garden Restoration Story is a Saga solo holiday and I thought not only would be an interesting short break it was an opportunity to try out going on holiday by myself.  As the time drew near I panicked and asked a friend to come with me.  I know now that I would have been fine alone and will certainly go on another solo holiday. There were 21 of us, with a wide range of ages.  Saga advertise holidays for the over 50’s but I suspect that the majority of the party were in their 70’s and a few over that,  all were lovely people, who I got on well with. The first stop at all gardens were the loos, followed by coffee – just right by me!

THE HOLIDAY – Restored historic gardens, rejuvenated with inspirational new planting schemes

We were based just outside Derby in the Peak District, and the gardens were about a hour’s coach ride.  We visited 6 gardens, 2 a day, all very different but interesting in their own right.  The trip was made all the better with an excellent horticultural host, Sue Minter,  who has been the supervisor of the Palm House at Kew, curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden and horticultural director of the Eden Project and she gave us interesting evening talks before dinner.

DAY 1 (am) – Sheffield Botanical Garden

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This is a Georgian Botanical Garden, opened in 1836.  Joseph Paxton of Chatsworth fame and Robert Marnock, a leading 19th century landscape gardener were involved in its creation.  In the late 1990’s the Friends of the Botanical Gardens applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the gardens to their 19th century condition and the gardens were officially opened in June 2007.   The modern touch is the prairie garden trialled by Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough prior to their “Fields of Gold” planting in the London Olympic Park in 2012.

I have to admit I was expecting a garden similar to that of Oxford Botanical Garden, but the fact that it is dependant on volunteers, as opposed to students studying horticulture at Oxford, it was clear it needed some tlc, especially the prairie garden which was completely taken over by the most enormous yellow prairie daisies, standing at least 7′ foot high.

DAY 1 (pm) – Renishaw Hall

 

This is a jewel of a garden, I could have stayed here all day.   Renishaw has been in the Sitwell family for 400 years.  The Italianate gardens were laid out in the late 19th century by Sir George Sitwell.  It is tranquil with distinct areas with formal clipped high hedges.  Beautifully cared for, even down to the pristine, sharp border edges it was obvious this is a well maintained garden.

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The wide lawn is edged on both sides, with new borders full of romantic, ethereal pink, blue and white planting by award winning designer Arne Maynard.

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Garden designer Lee Bestall has brought back to Renishaw Hall the ‘Experience Peak District & Derbyshire Garden’ silver-gilt medal winning garden at this year’s RHS Chatsworth show.

DAY 2 (am) – Trentham Gardens

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Well, what can I say!!  Trentham is a 300 acre public park with an adventure playground, fairy trail, monkey forest and garden centre, to make it even worse it is entered via a shopping outlet along the lines of Bicester Village.   Once in the garden, the remains of the house at Trentham are still to be seen, most of it was demolished in 1911.  Trentham had a formal garden attributed to Charles Bridgeman, then Capability Brown  designed the landscape between 1759-1780 and this is the parkland backdrop.  In 1833 Charles Barry, a Victorian architect, created a formal Italian garden.  In 1996 Trentham was bought by an investor who wanted to regenerate and restore the gardens.   In Trentham’s favour and worth a visit is the major restoration including the Italian Garden planted by Tom Stuart-Smith and a wonderful prairie garden of two 120 metre long borders designed by Piet Oudolf.  There is also an annual and perennial meadow scheme designed by Nigel Dunnett, who had a hand in Sheffield Botanical Garden.

DAY 2 (pm) – Kedlestone Hall

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Kedlestone is a National Trust property, the only one on our visit.  There is no garden, just a 18th century landscape created by Robert Adam an important Victorian architect.  Adam also built Kedlestone Hall.  This is another garden where a Charles Bridgeman  garden was swept away in favour of landscaping.  In 1920 there was a Gertrude Jekyll/Lutyens garden.  The restoration aspect of this garden is that when the National Trust acquired the property (the Curzon family still live in part of the house) they removed the Jekyll garden, reverting back to the Robert Adam landscape.  Visiting Kedlestone, after Trentham was like a cleansing of the palette!

DAY 3 (am) – Buxton Pavilion Gardens

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Opened in 1871 this is a Victorian garden designed by Joseph Paxton.  I knew it about 40 years ago as The Winter Garden, but it is now called the Pavilion Gardens.  It was restored in 2004 after a 7 year restoration project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It consists of 23 acres of grounds and a botanical conservatory.  There is not a lot to look at, but it made for a pleasant visit.

DAY 3 (pm) – Haddon Hall

1507eebb-a6ef-429e-aff4-5fe252ca6110Haddon Hall is a medieval manor house, which lay empty for 200 years and the restoration project began in 1920.  Haddon Hall is used a lot in films, including ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, The Other Boleyn Girl’ and historical ‘going back in time’ TV programs.  When visiting the garden I really recommend going into the house, the old stone kitchen is very evocative.  This is another garden which Arne Maynard has designed, replanting the Fountain Terrace. There is a Dyeing Border with plants that would have been used to dye silks for the tapestries.   In 2012 an Elizabethan Knot Garden was made using germander, lavender and rosemary.  We were all a little disappointed with the upkeep of the garden especially having seen so many wonderful photographs.  The roses were almost over and were in need of dead heading, and the flowerbeds needed a good tidy up looking as though they had been left a little too long.   As we looked over a wall on to another part of the garden closed to the public, we saw a well manicured lawn and flowerbeds, a marked contrast to the other part of the garden.

So that was my 6 gardens in 3 days holiday which I thoroughly enjoyed and I have come away wanting to know more about the history of gardens.

A Little Known Treasure – The Bishop’s Palace Garden, Chichester

Whilst The Bishop’s Palace Gardens, Wells, is well known, not many people know about the one in Chichester.   It is tucked away off South Street, behind the cathedral, surrounded by the City Walls.   I have included a couple of short videos in this post, if you have the time please don’t give them a miss, they will give you much more of a flavour of this treasure.

Like Wells, there is a raised grassy walk around the ramparts which gives a very different perspective to the garden you would see from ground level.  Although looked after by Chichester District Council, this garden certainly does not fall into the ‘Parks and Gardens’ category. 

There are two entrances, the one I prefer when introducing friends to the garden is via a door in the wall just behind the Bishop’s Palace.   Here, you find a tranquil, sheltered, formal walled garden.  

Above is a short video I took on Monday.  The birds were loudly chirping away and it makes you feel life is really beautiful, even if you are not religious, gardens such as this have a spiritual air about them.

I was really taken aback and somewhat envious to see the Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ in full bloom, especially when mine is just beginning to make an appearance this year and no where near to flowering.

The foxgloves were stunning – I adore the speckled inside of their flowers. 


Just beyond the Courtyard garden is the Wild Garden and here we found a magnificent iris display.

Just before the Wild Garden, on your left you pass a well kept allotment.  It is not included within the garden, but I assume it provides food for the the Clergy.

When you leave the Walled Garden, before you there is a much larger garden with parallel herbaceous beds planted with warm colours towards the east becoming cooler towards the west. 

The above plant is Phlomis Tuberosa ‘Amazone’ (Jerusalem Sage).  My friend, who is a gardener, was impressed to see this plant in a park garden – in fact he was totally impressed with the garden, full stop.  


This is another short video of the herbaceous garden, with the pergola and climbing roses,  Clematis and honeysuckle.   It was amazing to see how many of the roses were in bloom.

The garden is full of fabulous iris, and this dark burgundy, almost brown, variety really stood out. 

Just a few more of the flowers that were out in the middle of May.

As you make your way up the slope to the ramparts by the other entrance from Avenue de Chartres, there is the alpine garden.

We saw the above notice as we left the garden and extended a heart felt thanks to the volunteers who clearly work very hard and give a lot of love to the Bishop’s Palace Garden.

When I was looking for a bit more information before writing this post I discovered on the Chichester Cathedral website events page, there is going to be a Vintage Afternoon Tea with a jazz band to be held in the gardens from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday 17th July, tickets are £18.95 a head – I guess I might well be booking tickets! 

RHS Wisley in a Brown Winter Coat

It’s been quite some time since I made a visit to RHS Wisley, so when my friend suggest we went to Wisley on Sunday I was more than happy.  The weather, however, was not on our side and it was drear and dank with that horrible drizzle which is quite wetting.  I have been using my iPhone for taking photos so I decided to give my Nikon DSLR an airing.

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After re-fuelling with coffee and shortbread we started in the the Winter Walk  which starts at the Food Hall and takes you pass beds of Hellebores and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Robert’, ‘Jelena’, ‘Sunburst’, ‘Aphrodite’ (below) and ‘Barmstedt Gold’).

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Someone said that at the moment the witch hazel looked as though someone has been busy with the marmalade and I had never thought that before but now that’s all I see!

dsc_0071 As I have already mentioned it was a dismal day so the photos are indicative of the low light levels.   We went pass the lake with the impressive different flaming colours of the Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow).

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We called into the magnificent glasshouse, as did most people, wanting to get out of the rain.  Wisley was definitely wearing a brown winter overcoat with the pillars of brown leaved beech standing tall through the grasses. .

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The minute we entered the glasshouse, frustratingly, my camera lens misted up so I had to resort to my iPhone.  Going into the butterfly section was like entering a children’s playground and a buggy show, it was packed (no exaggeration) with double buggies and a fair share of crying children!

It is still too early in the year for most of the butterflies but there were a lot of the beautiful Blue Morpho.  Most were feeding with their wings closed so capturing their open wings showing why they are called blue, was not that easy.

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The Glasshouse Border, based on an original concept by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, was also an abundance of brown, looking even darker because of the wet day.  Lots of structure was there still, and I expect a return in February will see it all cut down.

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This was the view from the rock garden, again lots of brown, but we could see tiny green shoots of bulbs coming through  – signs of Spring.

We paid a visit to the Alpine House and were a bit bewildered by the array of narcissus all looking the same but actually different varieties. The only difference we could see was a slight variance in shade.

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RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, is open all year except Christmas Day an.d is free for RHS members.

Monday – Friday 10am-4.30pm Sat – Sun & Bank Hols 9am-4.30pm

The Butterflies in the Glasshouse event – starts 14 January.

 

 

Gravetye Manor Garden – A Dream of a Garden

Special occasions need to be celebrated in special places.

It was my good, long term friend’s 50th birthday on 18 July and it didn’t take much thinking about somewhere nice to go on that day.   We are very lucky to have Gravetye Manor about a 50 minute drive away, near East Grinstead.   It is an impressive country house hotel with a beautiful William Robinson garden.

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William Robinson, a professional gardener and author of The English Flower Garden moved to Gravetye in 1844 where he started to put his garden design idea into place.  He lived at Gravetye until his death in 1935.   In 2010 it was bought by Jeremy Hoskin who has turned it into the beautiful hotel it is today.    Tom Coward joined as head gardener in 2011 having previously worked with Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter.

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The garden is not open to the public unless you are eating or sleeping at Gravetye.   I have visited the garden on several occasions and booked in with friends for a rather splendid afternoon tea at £25 per head, and it goes to show the popularity of the garden that when trying to arrange tea, they were fully booked for many weeks ahead.   We pushed the boat out and booked a table in the Michelin Star restaurant for lunch, it was a milestone birthday after all.

We were met at the top of the steps, welcomed to Gravetye and taken through to the garden where we had pre-lunch non-alcoholic cocktails and, perused the delicious menu.   The meal was everything you would expect, starting with small amuse bouche of a warm pea veloute and roasted sesame seeds, ending with coffee and petit fours.  Each course was explained to us when it was brought to the table and we were not fussed over, although well looked after.  There is nothing more annoying than being asked every few moments if everything was alright.   Once well fed and watered, including a rather nice Picpoul de Pinet, (a Languedoc French white) we headed off to the garden, which was the main reason we were there.

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It was an exceptionally hot afternoon and we purposely planned not to visit the whole garden, the above map gives you a good idea of  its size.   We did manage most of it though.

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You can book a garden tour which includes a talk by Tom Coward as he takes you around the garden followed by lunch.  The small group above were enjoying being guided by Tom, and although we seemed to be following them a around we were keen not to look as though we were tagging on.  This long border faces over the wild grass meadow down to the lake.

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The garden is full of exciting plants, including a creamy white hydrangea with blooms the size of your head.  I particularly liked the creamy verbascum growing through the hydrangea.

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Gravetye is one of those gardens full of photographic opportunities, such as the larkspur, rudbeckia and poppy heads, with the stone walls of the house as a backdrop.

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The kitchen garden is a sheer delight and full of interesting and varied produce which supplies the restuarant.   Apparently in July 30 punnets a day of strawberries are harvested.  We were told that the head chef very much dictates what is grown.  He will make suggestions which are trialed and if successful then given more planting space the next year.   It is at the top of the hill and in the heat of the afternoon we didn’t linger too long and set off to the orchard and the greenhouses.

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As you can imagine a greenhouse on a hot day is not somewhere you want to stay for long but we were blown away by the size of the peaches and their sweet, tropical, aromatic, aroma hit you as you entered.  Such temptation!

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We didn’t have the afternoon tea but I wanted to leave you with a photo of the tea I had with my friend Sandra in September 2014.  We sat in the patio part of the garden at the side of the house which overlooks the lake.  This is the link to that particular post, you will see the garden is still beautiful in September.

https://hurtledto60.com/2014/09/25/chilling-out-in-the-gravetye-manor-gardens/

If you have the opportunity to visit Gravetye Manor either for tea, lunch or staying as a special occasion, it is somewhere not to be missed and really should go on your ‘To Do’ list.

Gravetye Manor is in East Grinstead, West Sussex. The garden is open to hotel and restaurant guests. Pre-booked tours of the garden are available for small groups. Contact the reception team on 01342 810567 for further information. Check out their website http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk.

 

Chilling Out in the Gravetye Manor Gardens

My first visit to Gravetye Manor and their spectacular garden in June 2013 “Lupins and Alliums at Gravetye” created a lasting impression.  I love the naturalistic planting and the recreation of William Robinson’s style.  This is thanks to Tom Coward, head gardener, and his team.   Since that visit I have followed the garden on Facebook and Tom’s blog about the garden.

Last week there were some breathtaking photos on FB which gave me an overwhelming desire to visit again.  The garden is open to hotel guests, so we booked in for afternoon tea on Wednesday 24 September.   The late September weather was on our side, it was warm and despite a few ominous black clouds, which passed by quickly, the sky was a glorious blue – an ideal day.

Gravetye Manor has a way of making you feel very special.  The staff are friendly, helpful and like magic appear when you need them.  We were met in the car park, shown where to park, welcomed to Gravetye, taken into the hotel, and offered a map and shown the way into the garden.

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The first thing that struck me was the colour.   The formal garden was bursting with late flowering plants in autumnal colours and surprisingly some summer plants still looking healthy.  The dahlias were breathtaking.

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As we wandered around,  I could feel a sense of tranquillity descend upon me.  Tables and chairs were strategically placed  and it was clear that guests had taken advantage of chilling out in the garden.

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When we walked through to the patio area at the side of the house, we remarked on the tables set for tea and agreed what a lovely way to spend an afternoon, looking down to the lake and beyond.

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Below the formal garden is a path with a long border bursting with cosmos, verbena bonariensis and asters.

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At the top of the hill is a large, incredibly well stocked and cared for kitchen garden set out with circular paths.  We stood here for a while just to listen to the birds singing to each other.  It was truly magical, no other sounds or noise to invade the stillness and peace to spoil the moment.

The vegetables were stunning and so healthy.   The purple kale was feet high, the brussel sprouts impressive and as for the pumpkin patch – well!  The kitchen garden is built on the side of a hill so there is quite a slope.

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We were about to leave the kitchen garden when we stopped to talk to a charming and helpful gardener to have a discussion about asparagus.  I now know a little more about how to grow asparagus.

Then we walked back down the hill to the hotel for tea.

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Imagine our delight when we were shown to one of the tables we had seen earlier outside.  Tea arrived with hot sausage rolls, a delicious selection of sandwiches, warm scones and cakes, some of which we took home in a box.

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There is something wonderful about the late afternoon light which we absorbed as we sat there drinking Earl Grey and eating salmon sandwiches.  The sun was still warm and I was feeling calm and at peace with myself looking over the lake and trees bathed in the evening sun.

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Thank you Gravetye Manor for such a delightful afternoon.  I will certainly visit again.

Gravetye Manor is in East Grinstead, West Sussex. The garden is open to hotel and restaurant guests. Pre-booked tours of the garden are available for small groups. Contact the reception team on 01342 810567 for further information.  Check out their website http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited

 

 

Parham Gardens at the Height of Summer

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.

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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 entrance into the Walled Garden.
The entrance into the Walled Garden.
The entrance path packed full of warm colours.
The entrance path packed full of warm colours.
The hot border in the Walled Garden
The hot border in the Walled Garden

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden

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.

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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.

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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.