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.

Lupins and Alliums at Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead

Gravetye Manor is a country house hotel deep in the Sussex countryside. The garden is open for all residents, those who visit just for a meal and pre-booked tours. We went for afternoon tea on Saturday. The sky was grey and the clouds looked as though rain was being threatened. It stayed away fortunately and we went into the garden after our sandwiches, scones duly heaped with cream and jam and cake.

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The house and garden were originally bought in 1884 by William Robinson, a professional gardener and botanist. He encouraged naturalised planting and was against the formal Victorian garden, he loved herbaceous borders with perennial planting. The garden is now under the exceptional care of Tom Coward, head gardener, who used to be part of the team at Great Dixter. He has brought the Dixter ethos of continuous planting to Gravetye.

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Our visit saw purple alliums of different sizes, statuesque lupins, colourful ladybird poppies, orlaya and apricot lupins.

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There was also an abundance of beautiful bearded iris, mixed in amongst the allium.

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The iris were also impressive in another bed further along in the main garden, known as the Flower Garden. Here they were planted with white lupins.

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To the left of the Flower Garden is a pergola with white Wisteria and pale blue bearded iris. Our walk was not hampered by the strong wind, but it did make taking photos difficult, as you can see from the Wisteria below.

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The other side of the pergola was a large bed of allium, underplanted with nepeta. The alliums were just going over but it was clear that in earlier weeks this would have been a breathtaking sight.

DSC_0233 (1024x683)We headed up the hill towards the Kitchen Garden by way of the Azalea Bank, the croquet lawn and the Woodland Garden.

The Kitchen Garden is on a grand scale, with cutting flowers for the hotel mixed in with vegetables and fruit for the restaurant. As we entered through the gates the first sight is a corner bed of white lupins and ladybird poppies.

DSC_0252 (1024x683)This part of the garden is on a slope with a circular path running around it and a central path which is, at the moment, edged with poppies.

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Leaving the Kitchen Garden we went down the hill through the Woodland Garden towards the greenhouses. Here you can see all the renovation work being undertaken on the Victorian greenhouses. They were packed with plants waiting to go out and seedlings in readiness for the continuous planting, the canas and dahlias were obviously the next to be moved into the flower beds.

Then the sun came out!

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We wandered back through the Flower Garden, now bathed in sunshine. We saw Tom (and his dog) working and stopped for a chat. I toyed with the idea of asking him if I could take their photo but decided against it, shame really I now wish I had asked.

DSC_0261 (1024x683)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. Further information can be found on their website http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk

Autumn Tints at High Beeches Garden

I have always thought as a solitary occupation, it is easier to go for a walk with a dog. somehow it’s less obvious that you are on your own.  Today I realised that another acceptable solitary occupation is carrying a tripod when taking photos.   Who wants to hang around waiting while your companion is fiddling with tripod legs and apertures?

Today I have done two new things.  I went to High Beeches Garden, near Handcross because October is that wonderful time of the year when the trees turn colour into what is known as the Autumn Tints.   It is still early and the trees are only  just turning but nevertheless there are some stunning colours even now.    Although I have lived in Sussex for over 30 years  I am ashamed to say this was my first visit to High Beeches,  27 acres of woodland and what a splendid woodland garden it is.

The second new thing today was that I took a tripod with me.  This was the first time I have used one,  it took a while to work out how to set up it and when I finally cracked it, I found it was a great way to take photos.

I won’t give you a wordy tour of the garden, but leave you to enjoy the colours.    By the middle of October the trees are expected to be at their very best, but I like the way they were just turning with a combination of greens, yellows, oranges, reds and bronze.

Breathtaking, and they will only get better in the next week or two.    It is not just the trees that are turning, there are some interesting bog plants and grasses taking on the autumn mantle, such as the Miscanthus.

As I crossed one of the many little bridges that go over the stream that runs though High Beeches, I was captured by the brilliant  red leaves of the Damera Peltata (Umbrella Plant)  growing on the side of a boggy bank.

When I made my way back up the hill to the exit, it was with a double take, that I saw magnolias out.   Fortunately, there was a label which said Magnolia Grandiflora “Goliath”.  I always thought magnolias flowered in spring, but this one flowers from June to September and it was still was producing buds which, true to its name,  were enormous.

Back to autumn colours again, we are all aware of how impressive hydrangeas are at this time of the year.   There were many in High Beeches but I only saw one that was this fabulous colour.

I am hoping that the weekend of the middle of October is sunny because it is my intention to return to High Beeches to capture and share with you the full range of autumn tints.

© 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