Waterperry Gardens, nr Oxford

The first of our brief tour of gardens in the Oxford area was to Waterperry Gardens close to Oxford.

dsc_0021

It is always a bit hit and miss visiting gardens at the end of September, you never really know what you are going to see as so much of the summer planting is over.   However, judging from the photographs on Twitter, we were on a pretty good bet at seeing some fabulous Asters or Symphyotrichum as they are now called.

dsc_0010

Brief History of Waterperry Gardens

Beatrix Havergal and her friend Avice Saunders established a Ladies Garden School in 1932. During World War II Waterperry was home to ladies in the Women’s Land Army who worked on the land digging for victory.  By the end of the war Waterperry was established as a well respected gardening school.  When Avice Saunders died in 1971 Waterperry was sold to the School of Economic Science, who continued with day courses for horticultural teaching which is still does to this day.  Many courses are run including the RHS Level 2 Principals of Horticulture. Miss Havergal died in 1980.

img_2161

I wrote a book review about First Ladies of Gardening.  in March 2015 and Miss Havergal is mentioned in this interesting  book.   Back now to our visit to the garden.

mapofwaterperrygardens

We were right in hoping the Asters would be good.  They were spectacular!

As to be expected there was still a lot to look at.

dsc_0023dsc_0022dsc_0020

The borders with grasses looked good, although there were some tall grasses at the front hiding shorter plants behind.   Whether this was deliberate planting or trial and error I am not sure but it did seem a pity.  I know that sometimes when a planting plan is new, it is not always easy to guess exactly how tall plants will grow and things like this are rectified in following years.

dsc_0017 I am a great believer in tranquil gardens, and whilst Waterperry cannot be held responsible for noise, or the wind direction, I found the constant drum of the M40 traffic, the Chinook helicopters overhead (I presume from RAF Benson) and private jets from the local Oxford airport, was far from a relaxing experience.  Maybe on another day with the wind blowing the other way it may possibly have been a quieter visit.

dsc_0026

Waterperry Gardens is open daily apart from Christmas Day and New Years Day.  In October it is free for RHS Members.

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.

DSC_0241 (1024x683)

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.

DSC_0265 (1024x666)

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

DSC_0231 (1024x801)

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

DSC_0218 (1024x571)

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.

DSC_0227 (1024x683)

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.

DSC_0239 (1024x666)

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.

DSC_0249 (1024x683)

DSC_0243 (1024x683)

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!

DSC_0254 (1024x674)

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