Gravetye is a private hotel garden which can be toured in addition to lunch reservations. This is a guided tour with the head gardener and was a wonderful way to discover the garden. The back of the building is terraced and looks out on the wisteria walk. Up to the right is a bowling green and across the road is the ubiquitous walled kitchen garden. This is a garden of two halves, part pleasure and part working, as the kitchen garden supplies food for the hotel restaurant. The food was amazing, the dessert shown here was an apple souffle.
Wakehurst, home of the famous millennium seed bank is part of Kew and is a wild botanical garden. There is a small area of formal gardens, but the focus here is on trees and shrubs from around the globe.
Penhurst has the feel of a secret garden as it is broken up into rooms, sometimes within rooms, surrounded by hedging. Peonies are on show here, planted in long beds edged with box. They have a rainbow themed double herbaceous border as well as many other formal elements. We almost missed the lily pond, so well hidden was it.
Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The gardens were designed in the early 1900’s to display a collection of Italian statuary. We arrived bright an early. Walking down the drive the castle appears in front of you to the left. In some ways this garden is all about water. The castle is surrounded by almost two moats. You walk down the length of the Italian inspired garden with statuary on one side, grass in the middle, and a trellised walkway on the other side. As you get to the end of the garden there is an Italian fountain and pond edge. On the other side of the Italian garden is a rose garden and herbaceous border. An interesting mix of the old and the new.
Pashley is a nice compact landscape, incorporating sculpture into the garden. Featuring herbaceous borders, a rose garden, and swimming pool it was a quiet an peaceful garden.
Sissinghurst lives up to the hype. The famous white garden was looking good, although the white rose on the pergola was not in bloom yet. Everything here was a riot of color, happy and healthy. It was busy and looking back on this photos I am impressed how much I was able to get without people in the photos. I would visit this garden on a monthly basis if I could.
Great Dixter was designed and lived in by garden designer and writer Christopher Lloyd. This is a garden that is bursting with life. You enter via the path to the entrance of the house. Off to the right is a sunken hot color garden abutted by an old barn. To the side of the house is a Mediterranean area followed by a formal topiary space. Along the back of the house are old shrubs and trees covering much of the facade. Continuing around the house is a hedged ovoid garden with narrow paths with plants and exotic shrubs towering over you. This garden feels like the plants are in charge.
Great Comp we added last minute and I’m glad we did. This garden is filled with little areas of follies, like the ruins and the Italian fountain shown above. It is also home to a salvia collection and nursery.
Wisley is a fairly recent RHS garden. You can tell there has been a lot of money spent on this garden and it is designed to educate and be a public space. There is a massive rose garden designed to meander down a hill. At the top of the hill is the wildlife garden and world food garden. There is a spiral viewing area perched on top of the hill, planted with lavender and rosemary. Water, glass house, formal gardens, if you can name it it exists at this garden. This was a great garden to finish our tour of Southeast England gardens.