The Holiday Souvenir Booklet will be available, to all who went on the holiday, once again this year (after a year's absence). It includes lots of holiday photos, as well as extracts from this most comprehensive write up from Diana. Thank you Diana! We aim to distribute it at the next meeting when Charles Dowding will be coming to speak. If you are not coming, then you will get it at the Fergus talk, and if you are not there, then it will be posted with your Annual Brochure. That is of course, if you were on the holiday. If you would like a copy, but were not on the trip, then the booklet may be purchased for £1 at any of the meetings.
Write Up, written by Diana Guy Day One Sunday 7th July A prompt start saw us on our way to Kent with a chattering coach of 49. A dull start, and as we pulled into our comfort stop the rain started but typically optimistic gardeners were heard to say, over the rustle of pac-a-macs and ponchos, ’Good job it is not as hot as yesterday’ and ‘Good, my veg. garden really needs this’. As soon as we crossed the Kent border the sky cleared and out came the sun. Just after midday we arrived at our first garden. Timbers, East Farleigh, Maidstone. The 5 acre garden, surrounding a 1950s house, opens for the NGS and Sue the owner is an HPS member. She met us on the coach and provided us with a very useful, extensive plant list, much appreciated as the packed borders brimmed with rare and unusual plants, very careful placed and in borders in immaculate order. As we ambled towards the delicious sandwiches awaiting us in the tea room our attention was taken, time and time again, by the wide range of plants in this exquisite garden. The first garden we came to was a round garden with a central ‘roundabout ‘border, we pored over gems such as Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green dream’, Euphorbia mellifera and Nepeta kubanicapai . The garden was originally a Hazel plat (orchard). We saw the 100 year old remnants of these Kentish cobs, all beautifully maintained and with new ones still being added. We particularly liked the lovely purple filbert. The house however was only built in the 1950s in the Arts and Crafts style. There was a range of interesting trees dotted around - some mature such as the towering cherries others added by the owners over the years such as various acers including griseum ,Crataegus orientalis, juglans nigra and Morus alba and Gingko. Some trees were given a ‘skirt’ of yew. Beyond the plat, away from the house, was a very steep wildflower meadow dipping down to a valley. This was where Romans quarried the local ragstone, a hard grey limestone used to build part of Old London town. The showstopper for all of us was the soft yellow and strong mauve hummocks all around the edge of the terrace in front of the house - we all got our cameras out. It was a dark Lavender combined with Santolina rosmarinifolia subsp. rosmarinifolia ‘Primrose gem’ (from Beth Chatto), inter-planted with lots of Echevera elegans , replacing an early flowering of tulips. This was clearly a garden where every border was planted for succession. We like that! Throughout the garden we noted very well clipped box cones, pyramids and hedges. One striking use of box was a star-shaped hedge surrounding a sundial. Well chosen sculptures, such as the oversized cut apple, apt for Kent and child seated beneath an Acer ‘Crimson King’, were carefully placed around the garden. Other beautiful areas included the old tennis court with an Albizhia and a central raised lily pond surrounded by full borders. The hot pink of the waterlily was echoed by Salvia ‘Cerro potosi’ one of seven different ones growing in this garden. Our old friend ‘nachtvlinder ‘ was in abundance ( I have loads to give away, one lump or two ?) so the scent of salvia lingered in this enclosed sheltered spot. The upper and lower parterres continued to thrill, as did the gravel garden with grasses including my favourite Oryzopsis milliacea and persicaria. Elsewhere was a pretty rock pool, pergola and vegetable beds and glasshouses. We all agreed - an excellent first garden! A short half hour drive brought us to the next one remembered as the ‘honey garden’.
Orchard House, Marden. Our venue for tea and cakes (at this bee themed garden) really raised the bar for the rest of the visit following the delicious various honey cakes. Jeanette was an office worker who pined to be a gardener. She volunteered at Knebworth, Hertfordshire and very quickly was made a member of staff. She took RHS level one and after a few years she took the plunge and became a garden designer, moving to Kent in order to be able to have a big plot at an affordable price, not too far from London. Over the next 14 years she created the garden not realizing it was a clay garden and thus prone to flooding, for this is the low Weald of Kent. She started up a nice little nursery, which we plundered. At first we thought this quite a modest garden but it was a bit of a "tardis" extending to its 2.5 acres around the house (built in 1901) with a Bramley apple orchard. A few ancient specimens remained, some supporting rambling roses such as ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’. In the old orchard was a productive quartered potager, one segment each for cut flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit . A double row of hornbeam under-planted with Cammassia, in long grass, leads down to the drive. Busy borders full of bee loving plants and narrow paths led to a gravel garden, a tropical border inspired by a holiday in Barbados, and lots of succulents in pots beautifully displayed. Sedums were also a great favourite. We were interested to hear how she made workable borders out of clay, and it was a method I have used very successfully. She cut out the rim of the new bed and then dug out the turf, revered it and covered it with topsoil. The turf will rot, but meantime will also act as a sponge holding the water as new plants get established. (I also modified this method but instead of digging in the turf I covered the grassed area with cardboard and then a load of top soil mixed with manure was added. In year one a seed mix of annuals was sprinkled over and by the next year the soil was workable for more permanent planting) I digress….Salvias were another specialty of the garden and the smell pervaded the garden and also to the coach as we settled down for the journey back to our hotel.
Day 2 Monday July 8th Great Dixter A bright and early start, in the coach for 8 am as roadworks may have delayed us. We were lucky enough to have a private visit as Dixter does not open on a Monday, so no shop or refreshments but we did not mind as the nursery was open! We disembarked and were given maps then left to explore on our own which was bliss. We watched the butterflies, listened to the birdsong and the only people we saw were a few industrious gardeners weeding. We were greeted politely and I was helped down the steps by a nice young man (I sound ancient!). There were a few surprises in-store. We all know that the collection of pots around the porch is normally ablaze with colour, well - they were just green. Every shape and texture of foliage in every possible shade of green. Almost apologetically a dachshund posed beside them to take our mind off it. It was totally reflecting the Chesea trend, of course. The exotic garden was a bit green too, but nevertheless lovely in a jungly sort of way. The pots clustered elsewhere in the garden - on the terrace at the side of the house looked a reassuring colourful mix as always. We were soon on familiar ground with the long border, glorious planting combinations - all our old friends were there. Lots of yellow this year, Inula, Verbascum ‘Christo’s lightning’ and bright yellow anthemis (tinctoria kelwayii??) contrasting with electric blue of the aconitum. The aconitum was also planted, to stunning effect, with orange helenium, vivid magenta lychnis coronaria, yellow hemerocallis and deep blue cornflowers. The sunken garden looked great too. I normally see it bathed it tulips in May or in October, bravely holding on. We noted the lovely erigeron annus, only an annual, but a great self seeder, threading through the border which was brimming with colour such as more ’Christo’s Lightning’, dark dahlias, bright pink phlox all running through the garden with scabious, evening primrose ,fennel and evidence of much more to come. In a shady corner, I saw the biggest clump of Paris polyphylla I have ever seen. The higher borders reflected this colourful planting. We saw swathes of glorious opium poppies and towering grasses too. And so it goes on…..so much to take in. What a good job the nursery was open, some of us just browsed but quite a few purchases were made.
South Grange Northiam Just a short drive away, delicious rolls for lunch and a very warm welcome awaited us at this pretty cottage garden, packed with fabulous plants - the perfect garden to complement Great Dixter, allowing us to come down gently from the dizzy heights of Dixter. At first it seemed to be a modest sized plot but it opened onto woodland, one and a half acres in all. Linda, the owner, is a longstanding (40 years) HPS member. The garden opens for the NGS and is also a B&B - very handy for Dixter and Sissinghurst. The garden was a plantsperson’s paradise, packed borders, small winding paths and plenty of sitting areas hidden away, including a lively circular arbor, created by training silver Pyrus salcifolia over a frame. As Linda sold us plants from a very alluring sales table, she chatted away and answered all our questions. There were several stunning plants for sale. I succumbed to a deep copper hemerocallis. There were several unusual richly coloured hemerocallis in the garden, including the colourful border in the front garden, much pored over. At the end of the garden a gate led through a copse of the signature Kentish cobs once again including a luscious example of the purple one. The house water run- off is diverted to an extensive storage system tucked in here. Any overflow ends up in the large wildlife pond. A productive vegetable plot within a meadow, incorporated lots of self-sown flowers, emphasising the owners' philosophy of gardening for wildlife with foxes and badgers in residence. Truly a garden for everyone.
Boldshaves, High Holden I did not think I would be able to manage this vast garden, but when Peregrine the owner (the 2010 High Sheriff of Kent) appeared at the end of the very long drive to give the three members ‘stick and walker’ team a lift, I realised this was no ordinary garden visit and nothing was to be missed! The group was settled in the seats between the extensive pond and the little tea house and Peregrine told us the story of the house and garden. The unusual house was an Arts and Crafts house built in 1909 by Robert Mitchum, one of Luteyns early apprentices, on a very old estate housing a spectacular barn dating back to the 1800s. Various events are held in this barn here including the Wealden Literary Festival. It is bordered at the top by a semi ancient managed 100 acre woodland full of bluebells and wood anemones. It even has nightingales! The seven acre partially terraced south facing garden is on high weald clay and even has an ancient marl pond. We were given worthy advice about managing heavy clay; every bit of it is heavily mulched by the end of April ‘’never let it see the sun’. The mulch of course will disappear eventually by worm action, lightning and feeding the soil, and gradually raising the level of the border. Little of the original garden remains, bar a magnificent weeping ash in the front drive. Over the past 25 years the garden has been developed with new features added all the time. I wrote down three words to describe the garden, ‘elegant, generous and thoughtful’. The tour began in the walled garden where a range of semi-tender Southern hemisphere plants grew around a mature mulberry. In front of the house, leading down and framing the magnificent countryside views, there was a wide grass path flanked by the famous red borders - red on the blue spectrum he elaborated. At the end of these generous herbaceous borders, a tennis court is cleverly disguised by the clever use of climbing roses. When his wife commented that ‘a year spent not visiting an Italian garden is a year wasted ‘so he built her one. Yew hedges enclosed this charming garden with a central water feature surround by four silver and white borders each with an olive in the middle. Opposite we visited a garden planted in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in rich royal colours, around a dovecote. There was also a camellia dell, a vegetable and herb garden given over to culinary and medicinal herbs and the smartest, largest hen enclosure I have ever seen. Lucky girls! A few years later Peregrine decided to plant an arboretum and to celebrate he asked each member of his family to choose a tree. His father chose Taxodium distichum (swamp cypress) which now towers over the oak tree! So we saw quite an eclectic mix, including a gingko and catalpa. We finished off the visit with delicious tea and cakes in the lakeside Cliff Tea House where Peregrine’s wife told me that, despite working as a London QC, Peregrine squeezes in at least 40 hours a week in the garden working very long days.This knowledge, passion and devotion shone through.
Day Three Wednesday July 9th Sissinghurst Described by Harold Nicholson as a ’ramshackle farm tumble’, Sissinghurst is probably the most famous garden in Britain, visited by 200,000 visitors a year. The great joy was that we had a totally private ‘earlybird’ visit. Most of us had been before (20 years ago for me) and we were all eager to see how things had developed since Troy Scott-Smith become Head Gardener, where his brief was to make the garden more Vita’esque. Appointed on a five year contract, Troy was about to leave to take up a new appointment at Harold Peto’s Iford Manor. Would we be disappointed with the garden? It was eerily quiet when we arrived and we were divided into several groups, each with one or two guides. My group had two lively characters who did a sort of double act each politely adding their tuppence worth to the others halfpence. The long and rich history of Sissinghurst’s past was relayed to us in some detail as we progressed around the different areas, with the odd risqué comment tossed in to spice up the talk. The living arrangements were fragmented; the Cook and her son lived in their own quarters, Vita and Harold had their own rooms in separate buildings, Vita’s writing room was famously in the tower, and she had no need of a kitchen of her own. (Lucky lady!) We, of course wanted to know the names of plants, and sometimes we were in luck but there was much googling afterwards and swapping of information. The basic design was based on two main axis each ending in a focus. Every subsequent path ended with a something to draw the eye. The view of the open countryside was drawn into the garden, but this really only was apparent in the nuttery garden or from the tower or beyond the moat. The orchard and superb wildflower meadow were an important link. Think back to the stunning view from the café over the meadow to the fields beyond. Much work has been undertaken and still goes on. The yew walk has been very hard pruned on one side after 30 years, the other side will be pruned too. Regrowth was already evident. The herb garden had been refreshed with the fragrant thyme parterre completely replanted. The chamomile seat, constructed from the medieval ruins of the original manor house, is still intact. I am sure no-one dares sit in it though. The Lime Walk was looking quiet as, of course, it is a spring garden. Originally it was Harold’s project that eventually Vita grew to like. One senses Harold was more about the design and the plants were Vita’s domain so he was lucky to be granted this little bit for himself. The Rose Garden was looking fabulous, so tightly packed with complementary plants burgeoning out of the box hedged borders - just as Vita liked it, that you did not notice that some roses were past their best. The famous Sissinghurst method of training roses by pinning them down over a frame was explained to us, this reduces apical dominance and encourages flowering (and also looks pretty cool.) The White Garden had never looked better in my view. It is notoriously difficult to mix whites as there are so many whites and they do not always blend well. Here we had white, cream, very soft yellow, silver and green. Troy had cracked it. There was debate over the fabulous tall soft yellow verbascums, possibly ‘Arctic Snow ‘or ‘Polar Summer’, or maybe just ‘Gainsborough’? The Cottage Garden was planted in the traditional hot colours entered around the four famous Taxus bacata ‘Fastigiata’ which have outgrown their space and are likely to be replaced soon. The Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ was planted against the cottage wall on the day that Harold and Vita exchanged contracts, almost 90 years ago. It was in 1938 that Sissinghurst first opened to the public. Entrance was one shilling so visitors were called ‘ shillingses’. Today the plastic token given out for re-entry is a plastic shilling. The improvements continue. The azaleas in the Moat Walk (planted in 1940 when Vita won £100 in a poetry competition) may soon be replaced and the thick under-planting of Smilacina racemosa reviewed. We were all intrigued by the big project masterminded by Dan Pearson, the complete recreation of Delos, the Greek Island much love by the Nicholsons. Unfortunately the concept never worked, built on clay and facing north. So massive new rocks have been bought to be totally realigned with the garden and the soil altered to be more receptive to Mediterranean planting. Dan is really good at this so I am sure it will succeed. With some rocks costing £3,000 each it is going to be an expensive recreation of an impoverished landscape, but we were told that Sissinghurst is one of only two National Trust properties that keeps all the income it generates, so it will be self-funding. The coach awaits, we must move on. Were we disappointed? No! it was voted our top favourite. How on earth does one follow Sissinghurst? Well……………
Hole Park, Rolvenden ….When we arrived we were greeted by Edward Barham, the charismatic owner, with two black Labradors, Fidget and Pepper, who promptly came onto the coach in the manner of sniffer dogs and said ‘Hello ‘to each of us. We were all given a useful map and leaflet. A Lunch of sandwiches was ready in the Coach House Café in the Courtyard, and whilst we ate, Edward gave us the full history of the house, and his family. The estate of Hole Park dates back to the 13th century and is built on acidic High Wealdon clay. It is an extensive 200 acre parkland garden with 15 acres of semi-ancient woodland, set around a house that is the fourth on the site. The first was a Wealdon farmhouse and then in 1720 a Queen Ann style front was added. Thomas Gibbon Moneypenny, M.P. for Rye, demolished this house and built a vast neo-Elizabethan house in 1832. Four generations of the Barham family have managed the estate and lived here, the family money came from United Dairies. (We like to know these things, luckily the information was volunteered.) The Barham family acquired the estate in 1911 and Colonel Barham designed the gardens in the 1920s. It already had many significant features including a grade two listed ice house from 1740, in which amazingly, ice could last a year, extensive bluebell woods and a fine bronze statue by the famous C19th sculptor John Bell called Eagle Slayer, which was exhibited in the Great Exhibition of 1851. During the Second World War the house was used as a barracks and the family did not move back in until 1959. The father of the current owner made the wise decision to demolish much of the house, leaving the central section from the 1720 house intact, and rebuilding in a classical style, a mimic of the second house to be built and just a quarter of the size of the fourth house (but still pretty large!). Hence the rather confusing pictures in the café! He further developed the gardens which are now stunning. A new addition is the obelisk erected in 2011 to commemorate 100 years of the Barham family at Hole Park. It now receives 13,000 visitors a year and hosts quite a few events including, in August, a Proms spectacular, an ABBA revival and a Napoleonic Re-enactment weekend. Hopefully not all three events on at the same time. We set off to explore the gardens. Lots to see! The current stars were the Millennium borders and a tropical border next to the house, planted with semi tropical plants by Head Gardener Quentin Stark. He was most helpful and very knowledgeable, Kingston Maurward trained and was brought up on the Crichel Estate in Manswood, where I lived for ten years. He helped us a lot with many of our numerous identification queries. Another member of the three strong team is the partner of Troy Scott-Smith. The tropical borders had Sparmannia Africana (the third garden we had seen this), datura, dahlias , Catalapa, Pennisetum ‘Purple Majesty’, ornamental gourds over a frame, towering bananas and a huge Arundo donax. Richard also pointed out two giant puffballs tucked away. The millennium borders were fabulous, long and deep, and very well planted with clear colour themes - too many plants to mention but we did ask about an unusual pink daisy rather like a Catanache. It was Tolpis barbatus from Chiltern seeds (Quentin is a fan). What we thought was fennel or dill was Ridolfis segetum, a Sarah Raven favourite. An adjacent old pool was home to a big colony of Great Crested Newts. This has hardly scratched the surface. We had yet to see the egg (shaped) pond, Sundial garden (where we saw Salvia ‘Robins choice’, much to Judy’s delight), the vineyard, a sunken garden from 1930 said to be acoustically perfect and much more. It was a visit to remember.
The Walled Garden, Hawkhurst After an exciting journey, due to having to have permission to enter a road closed due to gas board work, we arrived. This visit was to a nursery not a garden and we were delighted with that. Monty and Emma both trained at Hadlow College on Kent. All the plants on sale were grown here in the glass houses, 60,000 a year! Many were unusual, some unique to just a handful of Nurseries such as the chrysanthemum that I bought that was a gift from Hassenhof Nursery in the Netherlands. Emma (ex- Dixter) was the enthusiastic and knowledgeable co-owner and gave us a detailed history of the nursery set within a Victorian Kitchen Walled Garden. Very few exist with all their glasshouses intact. Here there were 13 in all, including a melon house, a cucumber house, a Peach Case, a fernery and ¾ span vinery. The money behind the original garden came from OXO meat extract, a new and cheap idea to nourish the poor. After many owners, and two world wars, decline set in. All the glasshouses were dilapidated when Monty & Emma arrived and restoring them to their former glory has been a lengthy and expensive process, made possible only by sponsorship. The names of sponsors are displayed on a wall in the shop written on plant labels. The granddaughter of the original Head Gardener, Ernest Hardcastle, got the ball rolling with a legacy of £200,000.
Evening Meal at Lime Wharf Café, Bodiam Adjacent to the river and railway this Boat Hire Company and campsite is something a little bit different. It was light and airy, with stunning borders planted by Emma of the Walled Garden (in exchange for redesigning the kitchen there). It was a lovely evening and we sat outside for nibbles and sangria or a soft drink then trooped in to sit at long communal tables when supper was ready. Most people had the Romney Marsh lamb and declared it delicious. I had an excellent vegetarian stuffed pepper with courgette fritters - the nicest meal I have had in a long time. The pavlova, strawberries with clotted cream and chocolate brownie were all declared to be absolutely divine. Well worth the hour long trip back to the hotel.
Day Four, Wednesday July 7th Homeward bound. Downderry Lavender Farm We were wowed by the fabulous display beds showing triple rows of contrasting lavender as well as hearty clumps all artistically designed around a water feature. Simon holds the National Collection of Lavender and Rosemary. The famous oversized Chelsea wicker basket was on display, although not the original. Simon is a charismatic and extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic speaker and in some detail he explained about all the different species of lavender. We were interested to see the a typical ones from Somalia (the lemon/minty Lavandula aristabracteata ) India and South Arabia (ten species in all) as well as the pretty tender Canary Island varieties and of course the Mediterranean species - all so different, many with the ‘bunny ears’. The world of lavenders is complex and the different groups, both species and cultivars, were explained to us. Simon mentioned ‘Bridehead Blue’ a Dorset cultivar bred by Chris and Judy Yates when they had the National Collection at the Walled Garden, Litton Bredy Dorset. We were shown how to emasculate a flower ready for hand pollination, after which it must be kept in an insect free environment to avoid an unwanted lavender dalliance by the bees. Micro propagation (tissue culture) is also possible and was explained. In the propagation tunnel we were shown the whole procedure from softwood cuttings to saleable plant. Outside we glimpsed the show plants for Hampton Court, Chelsea etc. in their own tunnel .The nursery has won endless RHS Gold medals; a whole wall full in the shop. A highlight for the group was when he started up the still and after half an hour or so we sampled the freshly extracted oil. In the fields, Provence in miniature, we saw that the different lavenders have specific uses; for oil, bunches, culinary and for specialist flavouring such as the top secret new variety specially bred and grown for a local gin company. It took ten years to bulk up enough mature plants to provide sufficient stems for the crop required. Simon also has developed new species for farmers to grow locally and can supply plug sized plants. (A tray of these appeared at Colehill off the coach.) Pests and diseases were explained to us, Rosemary beetle and Spittle bug (hand control recommended) and in order to keep out the dreaded Xyella it is important to buy British grown lavenders only. Some unscrupulous nurseries spray their lavenders with growth retardant to create a stumpy dwarf plant. No need when varieties in all heights and colours are available from a specialist nursery like Downderry. There is a wealth of information on the Downderry website - do visit it. After the tour there was the chance to shop and enjoy refreshments and then we were back on the coach for our final destination. Luckily this was to be our final plant shopping experience as the boot of the coach was already crammed full.
Norney Wood, Godalming Our final garden, Norney Wood made for a great visit, not least for the stunning generous buffet laid out for us. What a spread! Lunch was served in stunning surroundings - the modern, spacious inside/outside Socialising Suite, built onto the grand Edwardian (1903) house, nestling on the slopes of the Hog’s Back. The house, lived in for 50 years by the Pilkington glass family, was possibly designed by the school of Luteyns, as were many grand houses deep in the stockbroker belt of Surrey. Clues to it’s provenance are the extensive use of the dark ironstone bargate stone (the vernacular stone quarried around Godalmiming), a favourite of Luteyns and the Dutch gables on the house, being another typical feature. The present owners came in 2006 and restored the neglected house and garden with ecological principles in mind. Two and a half kilometers of pipe work was laid for ground source heating pipes. Run off from the roof is collected in vast underground tanks and they even have their own borehole. All the stone setts and flagstones were lifted to be relocated in the garden to build the terracing - 100 pallets in all. The ten acre garden is set within a ten acre wood mainly pine, oak sweet chestnut and beech. The substantially sloping site, with an eight metre drop, was then deer fenced and rabbit proofed. In front of the house there was a magnificent row of Hydrangea 'Annabel' and box hedging enclosing lavender. The shady areas had borders of Gallium odoratum. The garden was designed by Acres Wild in the style of Gertrude Jekyll but with a modern twist. Munstead Wood, Jekyll’s home is not too far away. The layout was on a very grand scale, with generous terraces and elegant broad steps all a mix of stone and chippings. 250 roses, mainly David Austin, were planted throughout the garden. An extensive croquet lawn with borders of just Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Geranium oxanianum ‘Wargraves Pink’ adjacent to a double allee of 30 pleached limes, immaculately trained, repeating the planting with the addition of alliums. A sloping bank beside the avenue was planted with restraint with just Bergenia cordifolia and Geraniums thurstonianum and macrorrhizumhi, in front of a great swathe of mature rhododendrons. On the other side was a rose walk again with simple under planting of the same nepeta and geranium. This led to the 'Thunder House' with a decorative ironstone floor, a copy of the garden room at Munstead Wood where Gertrude enjoyed watching storms. From here one could look down a substantial drop to the small pond waterfall, edged with box, falling into the rill and long lily pond, which led to the loggia - complete with sofas and fireplace. Beyond and around, the wood was left natural but easy to walk through. At the very bottom was a vegetable garden used by the adjoining Primary School. They had their own access gate and a little raised, wooden, outside classroom. It had been built especially for their use. Some days the local nursery also use this area as a forest school. Indeed learning is a feature of the garden with Creative Activity days including flower arranging, yoga and photography and visits from a local horticultural school, when practical maintenance days are organised. Walking back up to the top of the garden, through the woodland, we passed the large 80 year old pond, fire pit and finally the original vegetable garden, now used for soft fruit and dahlias for cutting. A tennis court was tucked away, and on up to the house was a nicely planted tropical border and in front of the house four matching L shaped borders enclosed the terrace. These were planted for a degree of succession, with ferns, hellebores, Campanula lactiflora ‘Pritchards Variety’, Iris, foxgloves and Hydrangrea panuculata. No annual plants that we could see except for the sunset coloured petunias ‘Indian Summer’ in two stone urns and very few bulbs, to cut down work. The garden currently opens every other year for the NGS, part of the Shackleford Garden Safari receiving around 800 visitors per day. Where do they all park? After the tour we had delicious homemade cakes and tea and departed for home arriving pretty much on time tired, but happy, replete with cake and plants. Thanks to the amazing team from the committee for all their hard work putting together such a fantastic holiday. The workload is phenomenal and as soon as they finish one they start on the next one! We truly appreciate your efforts.
Postscript As I completed this missive surrounded by a sea of notes on my desk and the floor a lone note fluttered into view, I cannot think which pile of garden notes it belonged to, so if you can identify the garden from this tantalising description please let me know………’In the centre was a large decorative butter pot from Cairo, nearby a silver pear was pruned in the style of Princess Sturdza………………. Answers on a postcard, please.
HOLIDAY 2019 - SOLD OUT We have a Wait List so please contact us if you wish to register
We would like to announce our 10th annual holiday to Kent - for "The Gardens of the Greats" Sunday 7 July to Wednesday 10 July 2018
This will be our 10th consecutive holiday and a return to Kent, the Garden of England.
‘Early Bird’ visits are booked for Great Dixter on Monday and Sissinghurst Castle on Tuesday when we will have exclusive access to these iconic gardens before they open to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity as these two gardens are hugely popular, especially in high summer. Christopher Lloyd and Vita Sackville-West must be two of the most influential gardeners of the 20th Century.
We stay at the Tunbridge Wells Mercure Hotel, which is situated in Pembury some two miles from Tunbridge Wells. The 4 Star hotel is styled around a feature oast house and we have free use of the indoor heated pool, sauna and steam room. The other visits are all to smaller private gardens, and many have plants for sale. This year there are neither Old Rectories nor Old Vicarages, as visited on previous holidays, but a selection of gardens varying in style and size; all with knowledgeable and enthusiastic owners keen to share their gardens with us. Many have featured in garden magazines.
The gardens are:-
Timbers: 5 acre garden designed with colour as priority. 100 year old Kentish cobnut plat.
Orchard House: potager, gravel garden with tender perennials, productive bee hives and small nursey specializing in herbaceous perennials and grasses.
South Grange, Sussex: HPS members’ garden, wide range of trees, shrubs, perennials and pots. Plants for sale.
Boldshaves: 7 acre garden, wide range of ornamental trees, Diamond Jubilee Garden, rainbow border.
Hole Park: has opened for NGS since 1927. 15 acres planted for all seasons.
Norney Wood, Surrey: Only four miles from Munstead Wood, the garden was inspired by Gertrude Jekyll to sit amongst the woodland, yet with the formality to complement the Edwardian House.
Downderry Lavender: including a tour of the growing fields and a demonstration of lavender distillation.
The Walled Nursery: two acre nursey in walled garden with 13 glasshouses dating from 1800 undergoing restoration. Virtually all plants for sale are grown on site. The Vinery Cafe is our venue for dinner on Day three.
Three nights’ bed and breakfast at 4 star Mercure Tunbridge Wells Hotel, with leisure facilities
Dinner at hotel on days one and two
Dinner at The Walled Nursery on day three
Lunches on all four days
Refreshments at most gardens not serving lunch
Coach travel by Laguna Travel
Pick up and drop off at Colehill or Ringwood
Entrance to all gardens #
# Sissinghurst Castle is a National Trust property. Non NT members will be required to pay the £14 entrance fee with their final payment to us. NT members must bring their current NT cards to show on the day to avoid the £14 entrance charge.
Bookings will be accepted from 2 January 2019 with a non-returnable deposit of £50 per person and dealt with in order of receipt. Balance to be paid by 31 March 2019.
HPS Dorset Group Members (per person) (non NT member rate): Double/twin rooms £384 (£398) Single rooms £488.00 (£502)
Non-Dorset Group Members (per person): Double/twin rooms £404 (£418) Single rooms £508.00 (£522)
The Booking Form, together with the Terms and Conditions of Booking, may be accessed by clicking on the button below. You then need to print and complete it, then post/deliver it to Elaine Lofthouse, whose details are on the Booking Form, with your cheque for the deposit of £50 per head.