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

 

 

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