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Cindy’s Spring Trip to the UK Part 3

Gravetye Manor

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 Place

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

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 Manor

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

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

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.

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Cindy’s Spring Trip to the UK Part 2

Hinton Ampner

After visiting Gertrude Jekyll’s house we went to Hinton Ampner. Driving up a hill you enter through walled kitchen garden to the tearoom and the house. Walking around to the face of the house there are gorgeous vistas of the surrounding countryside with sheep dotted as the landscape slopes downhill. The gardens have been terraced to deal with the slope and create long borders that one can walk back and forth winding one’s way downhill.

Arundel Castle

We arrived bright and early, and a good thing too, as people were already lining up to get in. The gardens here were a magnificent mix of hardscaping and planting. As you enter you walk around the castle, perched atop a hill. As you walk away from the castle the chapel and church are on your left with the entrance to the gardens shortly after. There is a stunning mix of tropical and traditionally British planting, everything you could want from a garden, water features, levels, walls, and a kitchen garden intermingled with perennials towards the back.

West Dean

West Dean is working college as well as a garden. Entering through the shop and tea room the walled gardens are on the right full of peonies and clematis. A second walled area holds glass houses mostly being used to grow fruit. Walking across the drive there is a pergola covered with wisteria looking out on the building of the college. Then paths wind their way back and forth over a small stream to a more wild area further on.

Petworth House

This was a landscape designed by Capability Brown. More park than garden, the house was more interesting than the gardens as the owners collected Turner’s and other artworks. Shown here is the grand staircase and the North Gallery.

Borde Hill

Borde Hill is a garden built around a house that has changed hands multiple times throughout its life, as such, there are lots of different designed garden areas. As you enter there are rectilinear herbaceous borders, the clematis were in full bloom when we were there. There are huge tree peonies that had already gone over as well as roses. Continuing to the front edge of the garden there is a wall with fields beyond on one side and entrances to garden rooms on the other. There is a beautiful swimming pool with the surrounding shrubs and trees giving the area a Mediterranean/African feel. After the pool is a sunken water garden with its own stand of bamboo. At one time it connected to the next area which was originally potting sheds, now ruins covered in greenery. There is even more around the backside of the house with large mature shrubs and understory trees.


Nymans was hopping! As it is a National Trust garden, anyone who is a member goes for free and it is a garden aimed towards families. You start by walking downhill and follow alongside a sheep fence line. On the right is the partial ruins of the house. As you walk through, it opens on to several connecting lawns with an Asian inspired garden to the left and the wisteria walk directly in front of you. Behind the house are the traditional walled gardens. Continuing on there is a large circular walled garden to the left and a rose garden to the right. As you approach the end of the garden there is a long double herbaceous border as you walk to the exit.

High Beeches

High beeches is more of a landscape than garden and there is no house attached to this property. Described as a woodland water garden you start at the top of this garden and walk down and around the brook that tumbles down the middle of this garden. Mature specimen trees and shrubs are everywhere in this landscape. This was a quieter garden that is only open in the afternoons.

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Cindy’s Spring Trip to the UK, Part 1

We started our trip in London, visiting Hampton Court Palace, the Sky Garden, Westminster Abbey, Eltham Palace, and the Chelsea Flower Show. From there we rented a car at Heathrow and travelled southeast to visit the first of our week of garden touring.

Savill Garden

Savill garden was created in the 1930’s by former owner Eric Savill. It is now run as a part of the the Crown Estates. The rose garden is a relatively recent addition, planted in 2010. This garden is divided into different area including a Bog garden with enormous Gunnera, an Azalea walk, the summer gardens which include the rose garden a herbaceous borders, and more.


Painshill is an 18th century landscape garden created by Charles Hamilton. This is a large garden in a man-made landscape, there are meandering paths around a lake, that was dug out and engineered to be fed by an adjoining river. Hamilton had an image of creating living painting in his landscape. He designed a number of follies to visit along the route including a grotto tiled with crystals.

Munstead Wood

Munstead Wood is the home and business garden of Gertrude Jekyll. This garden is held in private hands and as such is available to tour by appointment with the head gardener. This is a garden that is lucky to be in existence at all. It was sold in three parcels after her death, the gardens were grassed in the 1950’s by a subsequent owner. The most recent owners have recovered the original gardens along with their neighbors. From the tour we discovered the garden functioned very much as a show garden for Jekyll’s clients, she had a trial garden area, and she sold plants and seeds from the potting shed. Almost ironically the garden looks similar to how it would have been in her lifetime because of the effects of man.