Archive for July, 2009

A visit to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent

July 5, 2009
Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Another garden gem, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens were created in the 1930s by the poet and novelist Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicolson.  The National Trust now owns the estate.  This is a very popular destination and it was extremely busy during my visit last week.

There are ten separate gardens which are all very different.  If you climb up into the tower you get a superb view of the layout.  Enjoy some of the photos which I took during my visit.

An Herbaceous Border at Sissinghurst

An Herbaceous Border at Sissinghurst

Clematis at Sissinghurst

Clematis at Sissinghurst

Sissinghurst - The Moat

Sissinghurst - The Moat

Sissinghurst - A view from the tower

Sissinghurst - A view from the tower

Another view from the tower at Sissinghurst

Another view from the tower at Sissinghurst

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Hever Castle in Kent

July 5, 2009
Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle near Edenbridge in Kent is fascinating both because of its connection to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII and also because of the amazing gardens that were created by William Waldorf Astor. The oldest part of the castle dates from 1270.  The Bullen family bought the castle in the early 1500s and it became the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.  Afterwards it passed to Anne of Cleves who was Henry VIII’s fourth wife.  It wasn’t until the early 1900s when the Astors who bought the house that the major restoration work commenced.  The Astors dealt in fur, pianos and property when they went to America and gradually became one of the wealthiest families in the country. William Waldorf who inherited his father’s wealth was responsible for creating the gardens and lake at Hever.

There is a rose garden, an Italian Garden, a lake, a yew maze and a water maze.  Amongst the exhibits in the castle is an hour book signed by Anne Boleyn and costumed figures of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Hever Castle Garden

Hever Castle Garden

Hever Castle Lake in the distance

Hever Castle Lake in the distance

Hever Castle Chess Board

Hever Castle Chess Board

Hever Castle Herbacious Border

Hever Castle Herbacious Border

Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

July 5, 2009
Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

Lywood House in Ardingly, Sussex is the home of Max and Cleone Pengelley who take  Wolsey Lodge guests.  I had the good fortune to stay with them during my recent visit to Sussex.  This was a wonderfully ‘English’ experience.  Just picture a 14th century listed timber framed house with a view of a perennial border packed with vibrant colours, sweeping lawns and paddocks with one horse wrapped up in blankets as a fly deterrent.  Outside the front door was the horse box.

It was a sweltering hot day so Max was quick to produce elderflower cordial and lime squash on my arrival.  Cleone cooked a delicious dinner for myself and two other guests – a green salad with egg and thinly sliced prosciutto, fish with broad beans and spinach from the garden and a delicious mousse-like dessert with a strawberry compote – Yummy.   The other guests mentioned that normally they would go abroad but this year they had decided to explore the South East of England.  They gave me some great tips of places to visit including Hever Castle which I thank them for as it was a treat!

Had I remembered my swim gear, I would have been able to take a dip in the pool.  I highly recommend this accommodation.  Thank you to Max and Cleone for a very enjoyable stay!!  I also compliment Cleone on producing an excellent dinner.  We gave up offering dinners a few years ago as it was such hard work.

Wakehurst Place near Ardingly

July 5, 2009
Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is another gem of a garden located in Ardingly near Haywards Heath It is often referred to as ‘Kew in the country’.  It was created by Gerald Loder who purchased the estate in 1903 and spent 33 years developing the gardens. The estate now belongs to the National Trust and is managed by Kew.  The Millenium Seed Bank project was opened at Wakehurst in 2000 and its aim is to assemble a collection of seeds from more than 10pct of the world’s flora.  You can actually see the scientists at work when you visit the building.  You could easily spend a few hours here roaming through the natural woodlands, down through valleys and past lakes, streams and rivers.  You will find a large number of water and bog plants.  When I visited in early July the irises were in full bloom and quite a sight to behold.

The Loder Valley nature reserve is well worth walking through.  In some parts it felt a bit like being in a tropical jungle particularly as it was extremely hot on the day of my visit.  Wander back through the Himalayan glade and enjoy the superb views from the top of the glade.  By all accounts Loder was fascinated with Rhododendrons and these must be an amazing sight in the spring.

Take a look inside the mansion as several of the rooms are open.

A view of the Garden at Wakehurst

A view of the Garden at Wakehurst

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst

A lake at Wakehurst

A lake at Wakehurst

Wisley – A garden lovers dream

July 5, 2009
The New Glass House at Wisley

The New Glass House at Wisley

I had the good fortune to visit Wisley on 1st July.  Sprawling over 240 acres, it is just 30 minutes drive from Heathrow and an absolute ‘must go and see’ for garden lovers.  It surpassed all my expectations in what it had to offer.  Just make sure that you allot several hours for your visit.

The gardens encompasses everything from trials fields, a vegetable garden, fruit field, model gardens, wild gardens, walled gardens, lily ponds and arboretum and a recently opened glass house.  There are a number of excellent cafes and restaurants as well as a plant centre.

I was particularly interested in the perennial planting outside the new glass house.  The plants are cleverly grouped together and striking colours such as various types of hemerocallis, blue salvias, campanulas, heleniums, verbascums, geraniums, scabies and euphoria are all used in abundance.  I had no idea there were so many varieties of some of these plants.

Take a look at some of my photos to whet your appetite!

Wisley Annual Display

Wisley Annual Display

The Lilly Pond at Wisley

The Lilly Pond at Wisley

The Trial Garden at Wisley

The Trial Garden at Wisley