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

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

Furzey Gardens: Developing independence and skills for the learning disabled.

I had never heard of Furzey Gardens in Hampshire until this year’s 2012 Chelsea Flower Show, where they won a Gold Medal for their Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw.

The Minstead Training Project is a sister charity to Furzey Gardens.  It provides residential care and horticultural training to young people with learning difficulties.   It is these young people who  help tend the garden and were involved with Chris Beardshaw in making the award winning Chelsea Garden.

When you visit The Furzey Gardens Charitable Trust you will find 8 acres of woodland walks, full of  interesting  plants  and trees.    It is clearly a garden that delights no matter what time of the year you visit.   The garden has a great display of all year round colour, with rhododendrons in February and March, a mass of spring flowers, the azaleas in May and the  many trees and shrubs  in the autumn.

My visit was in the last week of July and like every garden in the UK, due to the wet summer, it was lush with foliage.   Furzey Garden is on a hillside and the ground was a bit wet and boggy in places along the paths, so we had to be careful where we walked.

It was clearly a popular spot for families and although there were signs asking parents to keep children with them at all times, it was very noisy with young children running around the garden and calling each other, which I found slightly annoying.   Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against children in gardens but to me it did detract from what is a gentle place in a peaceful setting.

All around the grounds are 30 little fairy doors to find and explore and there are also tree houses and wooden walkways for children and a crawl tunnel, swings and an old boat all added to the childrens’ playground sounds.     Their mothers seemed quite content to sunbathe on the patio outside the cafe, whilst their children shrieked and played.

However, from a child’s point of view I could well see the fun they were having chasing and hiding among the shrubs and trees.

At the top of the hill,  by the entrance is a 16th Century Cobb Cottage which is believed to have been built in 1560.   Here you can find the well-tended vegetable garden also crammed full of flowers.  This was typical of an “olde worlde” style cottage garden and something that I would like to try and develop in my own garden.  I love the idea of dahlias and hollyhock growing alongside beans and carrots.

I have a learning disabled brother, now nearly 60, who loves gardening, and I felt a sense of sadness that nothing like this was available when he was young.    As I walked around I thought how much  he would have loved it here and how important places like this are to help develop self-respect and independence along with giving young learning disabled men and women  the opportunity to learn new skills.

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The Grass is as High as an Elephant’s Eye… Nearly

There is something special about having an interesting, and different, garden near enough to be able to visit it regularly.   Sussex Prairie Garden is certainly different and interesting.   I have written a couple of posts about this garden, mainly because of its development throughout the year.  It never looks the same from one visit to the next and I like to be able to share my visits with you.

The enormous variety of grasses in the six acre prairie garden will be as high as an elephant’s eye within the next month or so.

The other exciting, and unusual, thing about Sussex Prairie Garden are the sculptures from local and international artists that you will find displayed around the garden, within and on the edges of the beds.   As the garden grows through the season the artwork is enveloped by the planting and when walking around you suddenly notice pieces carefully placed.   There is always something new, such as the coloured lambs and the sheep with its wire coil springs  for a fleece.   Click here for more information about the Art in the garden.

On my first visit, one  piece of artwork that amused me was the “flying tea set” in the grass.   From the photo below you will see how the grasses grow making  it look as though it has grown in the garden, rather than being placed there.

Paths meander in and out of the borders and at the far end of the garden, there are two mounds with benches at the top.  I love to sit up there and survey the garden from a higher level, and just contemplate on how lucky I am.

This is usually followed up by a lovely cup of tea in a decent sized mug, from a proper teapot, sitting outside and viewing the garden again, from the other end.  The home made cakes are excellent too!

Sussex Prairie Garden, near Henfield, West Sussex is open 1pm until 5pm from June 1st until October 14th 2012.

Great Maytham Hall, Rolvenden, Kent : A Secret Garden

Two months ago, I re-read  ‘The Secret Garden’ written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.   At the same time I did a spot of research into the writer, and discovered that Great Maytham Hall was the inspiration for her famous book and that the gardens were open to the public through the National Garden Scheme on 20 and 21 June.   I also wrote a post in April called ‘The Secret Garden and my Discovery’ and said that I intended to visit the gardens at Great Maytham.

I went to Great Maytham Hall on Wednesday.  As everyone knows the weather has been pretty dire, with wind and rain most day so I couldn’t believe my luck  that it was a fabulous, sunny, June day for my visit.  I discovered a beautiful garden which was well worth the drive.

Frances Hodgson Burnet, lived as a tenant at Great Maytham, a Grade II listed building in Rolvenden, near Tenterden, Kent between 1898 to 1907.     It was the discovery of an old door in a wall and a garden hidden behind, that became the base of  her book, although she set it in Yorkshire and not in Kent.

Frances lovingly restored the garden,  planted it with hundreds of roses and spent many hours sitting in the tranquil garden writing her stories.

In 1909, Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned by the owner to redesign Great Maytham Hall, a house originally built in 1721.   He landscaped the terraced lawns in partnership with Gertrude Jekyll.   Although Lutyens retained the old walled garden he removed an old gate, the one that Frances had found, replacing it with a wrought iron one.

The lovely gardens at Great Maytham have several walled gardens including a walled pond garden,

and, a typical Lutyens pergola covered in roses.

In recent years the property has been converted into expensive apartments.  The pristine and tranquil gardens, have one full time gardener and the residents assist with jobs such as weeding and dead heading, as well as their own allotment area and greenhouses.  I couldn’t help thinking, as I walked around, what a magnificent place it was to live – a Lutyens/Jekyll garden, beautiful views and the history that goes with it.

Although the gardens are only open to the public for two days in June through the NGS, it is open for private viewings by appointment so if you want to see it for yourself this year, just give them a call.

© 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

The Glory of the Garden: Bateman’s, Nr Burwash, East Sussex

This wonderful poem was written by Rudyard Kipling.

Today I visited Bateman’s, a National Trust property, in Burwash, East Sussex. This was the home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902 until his death in 1936. Along with a number of famous poems and books, he also wrote the poem “The Glory of the Garden”.

I felt rather than write a lot about this interesting house and peaceful garden, the poem and a small selection of the many photos I took this afternoon would do it better justice.

Bateman’s, Burwash West Sussex : Rudyard Kipling’s Home 1902 – 1936

OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You’ll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

The Mulberry Garden – Batemans

And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise ;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows ;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

Sweet Williams growing amongst the vegetables

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:-” Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.
There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

The wild flower meadow by the old mill

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner In the Glory of the Garden.
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!

And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away !

Bateman’s, Burwash


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