Trials in 2017 at Parham Gardens nr Pulborough

I regularly follow Parham Gardens and head gardener Tom Brown @HeadGardenerTom on Twitter, so when not visiting the garden I manage to keep abreast of what they are doing. Each year Parham runs plant trials, and they are well worth a visit as it is a great way of making a note of ideas for the next year. I have an annual membership with a friend which has just run out, however remembering my Gardeners World magazine 2 for 1 admission card, we went on Sunday, especially to see their recent trial beds.

This year is the first year I have grown gladioli and was very proud of how successful they were. It was because of this I was really interested in other colours and making a note of the varieties I particularly liked for 2018.

It was with a strange sense of satisfaction to see that one of their trial gladioli was Peche Melba, the same variety as the one I grew this year. Mine were slightly paler than the trial ones but I suppose colours do change slightly from supplier to supplier.

Opposite is another trial bed with dahlias. I have fallen in love with dahlias this year and they really do seem to be back in fashion. I have decided to have pale colours of creams, apricots and soft pinks in 2018, rather than the dark reds and purples I grew this year. Despite the information board, unlike the gladioli bed with their numbered flowerpots, in order to find the name of the dahlias we found ourselves on our hands and knees looking for the plant labels. There were several I made a note of:




The third trial bed is full of Zinnias, in an array of colours from the brightest of reds to lime green.

In keeping with my 2018 idea of a pink/peach palette I liked the above Zinnia but as there were so many of them I couldn't really work out from the blackboard board what this pink one was called.

The purple and silver borders where looking fabulous, I love this colour combination, it is so soft and gentle on the eye.

Tom, the head gardener, has some very clever planting ideas, including the agapanthus growing in the Ammi Visnaga – I think it's Visnaga and not Majus – it was most effective anyway and another idea to take away with me.

The hot border was full of oranges and yellows, always a sight to behold.

Now, with apologies to Tom, I am going to be controversial here, regarding deadheading. My friend, a gardener by profession, and I had a bit of a heated discussion when we arrived at the long white border, full of Cosmos amongst other things. Personally I admit to having an obsession about deadheading and was disturbed to see so many Cosmos in need of deadheading and my fingers were just itching to get in there. He was saying that with a large garden such as Parham other things sometimes take priority and my argument was that at least one of the gardeners, or volunteers, must pass this border every day and if they stopped just for 5-10 minutes to daily deadhead, the job would be done without it building up and ending up looking uncared for. I don't know what others think – my friend walked off muttering something along the lines of "I'm glad I don't have to work for you"!!!

Although a regular visitor I often come across things I have not noticed before, either they are new or there is so much to look at I just hadn't seen them. I loved the curved flower beds placed along a low wall. Such simple planting which anyone with the smallest plot could copy which is a joy to see in a large garden with big borders bursting with plants. The pale pink zinnia and purple statice were a great combination.

I can't end a post about Parham without a mention of the glasshouse. Always full of interesting plants, and this delicate blue climber caught our eye. We hunted for a label but it was growing in amongst other plants we couldn't find out where the stem was so we're unable track down its name. However after tweeting a photo Tom Brown kindly came back with the answer – Plumbago 'cobalt blue'. Twitter is wonderful for gardening info and ideas.

During 2017 Parham is open in the afternoons (12:00 to 17:00) until the end of September on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays & Bank Holidays.  In October they are open on Sundays only.  Please note that days and times may vary on special event days and so please always check the website before your visit.

Parham Garden, West Sussex – A Garden Entering September

I am lucky enough to live in a part of the country with a number of diverse and interesting gardens to visit from Sussex Prairies, seen recently on Gardeners World, to the National Trust garden at Nymans, with Charleston and Denmans in between.  Of course I mustn’t forget Great Dixter and Parham.

Parham is one of the closest gardens to me and I went there yesterday.  We were lucky to have a day sandwiched between too many wet days, although it was overcast and very warm and muggy.    Our last visit was at the end of May when everything was just bursting through and coming into its own.   Now at the end of August the garden had been beaten down by rain and was beginning to look decidedly autumnal.

The Rose Garden in May was beautiful and the muted colours of pink to purples looked splendid, now just on the cusp of September it is decidedly overgrown, nevertheless still charming to wander around.

Parham Rose Garden – May 2015
Parham Rose Garden - August 2015
Parham Rose Garden – Late August 2015

The Herb Garden was in a similar state.

Herb Garden Parham - May 2015
Herb Garden Parham – May 2015
Herb Garden Parham - Late August 2015
Herb Garden Parham – Late August 2015

I don’t have a photo of the sunflowers in May, the gardeners were in the throes of planting a long bed of very straggly sad looking sunflower plants that looked in need of a good drenching and some were looking as though they would never make it. However the sunflower border was very impressive and I am glad I have seen how well they have done three months on.  Many of you have already seen this as it as also shown on an episode of Gardeners World.

Sun Flower Bed - Parham Late August 2015
Sun Flower Bed – Parham Late August 2015

I love the way gardens change colour throughout the seasons from the bright and cheerful “hurrah we are the other side of winter” yellows to the regal and wonderful deep reds and maroons at the end of summer of Sedum, gladioli and Echinacea.


I am in fear of doing Parham an injustice to the great team of gardeners.  Not all borders are beginning to be past their best.  A large part of the garden has beds containing a mixture of cut flowers and vegetables that are enclosed by box hedge.  One particular bed has Amaranthus and Curly Kale, a clever combination of colours, other beds have runner beans giving height in the middle surrounded by dahlias and other cutting flowers.


The photos below are of two of the other borders.

Fifty years ago the garden had a team of 20 looking after it, these days there are 7 and even on a Sunday there was one of the team with his note book, wheelbarrow and secateurs keeping a watchful eye on this much loved garden.

If  you have never visited Parham, I would suggest you put it on your Gardens to Visit list, and if you haven’t been for a while remember to pay a return visit.  If you are a RHS member the entrance is free!

Parham House & Gardens are open from 5 April – 27 September 2015 Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sun & Bank Holidays.

During October Sundays only.

Gardens only 30th, 31st October & 1st November.