Our garden comprises approaching 8 acres of densely planted borders, designed to provide continuous flowering from Spring to the first frost of the Winter.
Our aim has been to create a classic English country house garden appropriately scaled to the proportions of the house, and optimising the glorious views of the neighbouring South Downs.
We have created a series of related gardens and borders within the overall envelope. These features are differentiated in terms of plant types, structure and colour palette, but relate to each other and draw the viewer through the various spaces.
Although the large collection of roses (over 600 in number) achieve their finest display in late June, other parts of the Garden, (notably the hot garden and grasses garden) do not achieve their maximum impact until September / October.
Below you will find a plan of the Garden. Following that, we take you on a tour, with a description of the principal highlights.
The majority of the photographs you will find on the website have been taken by Leigh Clapp
garden plan by Kathryn Pinker
We start our tour in the White Garden, No. 1 on the above plan.
The White Garden occupies the site of a derelict swimming pool. Inspiration for the establishment of this garden came from the number of white flowering mature trees and shrubs which happened to surround it. These included a large Bird Cherry which collapsed in 2014, towering philadelphus and a number of False Acacias (Robinia pseudoacacia). With this splendid backdrop this garden embodies one of the principles underlying our planting schemes, that is to maximise the florescence in the vertical as well as the horizontal axis.
The flowering starts in May with ground colour provided by white Honesty (Lunaria) supported principally by Pulmonaria Sissinghurst White, Geranium Kashmir White. This limited but effective scheme broadens rapidly as the season progresses and a large range of plants and shrubs come into flower. Arches over the two entrances to the garden are covered with roses including climbing Long John Silver, Swan Lake, and White Cockade. The tranquil and cool atmosphere is enhanced by the white water lilies in the central pond which is surrounded by fine Brugmansia grown in pots and reaching up to 10 feet by late summer.
We leave the white garden under the farther arch, passing a fine Aesculus parviflora, and climb a short flight of steps to the very different planting and atmosphere of the Hot Garden
The Hot Garden provides a total contrast to that which precedes it. Established on the site of an old grass tennis court, it features massive beds the soil of which is raised well above the surrounding grass consequent on the annual addition of large quantities of manure and rotted down grass cuttings. We choose to define "hot" not just in terms of colour but also luxuriant growth.
The planting is bold with large clumps of brightly coloured flowers reaching its climax in September when towering dahlias, cannas, ricinus and helianthus jostle for attention at heights of up to ten feet in a brilliant display of colour.
IN BETWEEN BORDERS
R. Fantin Latour behind Napeta Six Hills Giant with R. Marjorie Fair on right.
The inelegantly named In Between borders are mixed beds planted to manage the transition from the strident colours of the Hot Garden to the more romantic, informal and pastel planting of the Long Borders.
Deep maroon dahlias are to be found next to the near black rose Louis XIV. As we progress we find roses Roserie de la Haye, Tuscany Superb, Marjorie Fair, Baron Girod de l'Ain mixed together with shrubs and very varied selection of plants including a large clump of self sown California Poppies whose colours are discordant but somehow do not clash displeasingly.
These mixed borders run 100 feet along the west edge of the south lawn. They are home to some magnificent shrub roses starting with the hybrid musks Penelope, Buff Beauty and Ballerina. These are later joined by The Fairy and, towering above them, Seagull which has climbed 30 feet into a mature eucalyptus. Between the roses, foxtail lilies, delphiniums, and angelica are amongst the plants that fill these densely planted 20 foot deep borders.
Late in June all that has finished flowering is cut back. Annuals and tender plants that we have grown from seed and cuttings are planted in the resultant gaps. So in go verbenas, ageratum, cleome, Salvia patens and Salvia involucrata Bethelii. These and assorted herbaceous plants keep these borders in full flower through to mid- October.
Crossing the south lawn with its glorious views of the South Downs and bordered by a fine bulb display in the Spring and early Summer, we make our way to the formal Rose Garden and, alongside it, the Herbaceous Borders.
Roses are planted throughout our garden, over 600 in number. There are three main areas specifically devoted to them. Of these the first is the formal Rose Garden comprising five large beds, each home to 50-65 HT roses, grown on bare earth. We are very conscious that this is possibly the most unfashionable form of gardening practised today, a view we consider to be most misguided. The roses in this garden are, starting from the left as you enter and moving clockwise round, Woods of Windsor, Chicago Peace, the extraordinarily fragrant Prima Ballerina and Silver Jubilee. In the centre bed is Savoy Hotel surmounted by the weeping standard Alberic Barbier. The standards in the outside beds are Swany and Sanders White.
The HTs in four of these five beds are replacements planted over the last seven years. Prior to planting, the soil in the beds was excavated to a depth of thirty inches and removed to the vegetable garden. The bottom half of the holes were filled with either horse or farmyard manure and the top half with bought in topsoil mixed with wood ash, leaf mould and further manure. The results are spectacular, and with regular spraying and daily or twice daily dead heading, these roses normally remain in continuous dense flower from mid June to mid October.
R. Savoy Hotel
The yew backed so-called double herbaceous borders run alongside the Rose Garden, so-called because they are not wholly herbaceous. The colour palette is quite tightly controlled and designed to echo that of the pergola into which it leads. Early in the season this is predominantly blue with some yellow to continue the colours of the wisteria and laburnum on the pergola over a 250 foot vista. In June when the predominant colour of the roses on the pergola is pink, the borders turn pink with them although with continuing strong accents of blue from the delphiniums and aconitums. As with the Long Borders, a large amount of replanting takes place so that the summer ends with a blaze of late flowering salvias with Salvia leucantha a special favourite and Nicotiana mutabilis also much in evidence. Lobelia syphilitica and the water lily colchicum add brightness at the end of the season amongst the michaelmas daisies.
SHRUB ROSES BORDER
Between the east-west axis of the herbaceous borders and the pergola, runs the 125 x 30 foot shrub rose borders. For the most part the roses planted here, all acquired from Peter Beales Roses, are long established cultivars selected for their fragrance and colour. The palette ranges from pink through mauves and purples to the brilliant velvet red of Scharlachglut. Overall there are nearly fifty varieties planted in basket weaved groups of two or three. My favourites include Leda, Duchesse de Montbello, Amelia, Charle de Mills and Souvenir du Dr Jamain. Alas, this amazingly labour intensive border flowers for only two to three weeks a year. However, it is fantastic when in flower provided it is not wrecked by rain!
The Rose Gallery section of this site is mainly devoted to the roses in these borders.
On the North-South axis on the other side of the wall backing the Shrub Rose border is the Spring Border. This hosts a display of brilliantly coloured tulips in the Spring which are interplanted with wall flowers. These give way to a fine display of flag irises. Later in the season the principal feature is climbing roses on the wall, including Blush Noisette,Ghislaine de Feligonde, Purple Skyliner, Dublin Bay and Etoile de Hollande.
R. Etoile de Hollande
Returning to the main east-west axis, we enter the 125 foot pergola. After the May display from the wisterias and laburnum mentioned in the section on the herbaceous borders, the flowering baton passes to the roses and the clematis which are interspersed between them. Of the roses my favourite is unquestionably Adelaide d'Orleans whose delicate pale pink flowers hang apparently unsupported in mid air within the pergola. The pergola is sheltered on either side by a ten foot beech hedge which allows the scents to remain trapped within the structure. On the outside of the pergola is a fine peony display in June.
Behind the hedges protecting the Pergola to the North is the Vegetable Garden. This is very much a working vegetable garden, not a potager, supplying the house. To the south of the pergola is a Nuttery. The East-West axis continues beyond the pergola down a recently planted magnolia walk to the Grasses Garden
As one approaches the Grasses Garden, the eye is drawn to the thatched summer house. The mosaic floor of this structure is as scaled abstract representation of the Grasses Garden by the artist Vanessa Hodgkinson.
The Grasses Garden was developed in 2008 and is incorporated within the orchard. This is not a prairie garden but a grasses garden which draws on the beauty and gravitas of old apple trees, some of which are host to rambling roses. The planting includes large numbers of Miscanthus, the taller of which send their flower shoots into the branches of the apple trees where they contrast interestingly with the red fruit in September. To provide additional variety and interest through the year, the grasses are also interplanted with a wide variety of dogwoods and other shrubs including Witch-Hazels, Viburnums, and Cotinus.
This is the latest and last garden that we can develop within our very full envelope. A farmyard pond has been dredged and landscaped and we have started to experiment with our planting. The vision is to try to create the illusion of a deep green hole sunk in the ground. The pond is actually only 5 feet below the surrounding land, so the illusion will have to be created through the planting. We envisage achieving this through planting tree ferns, palm trees and very tall bamboos at the top of the steep banks and below them tall plants to provide a further vertical rush. Time will tell whether this is successful.