We were fortunate to be blessed with a lovely warm and sunny day for our visit to two great gardens on the borders of Kent and Sussex. First stop was at Pashley Manor, a beautiful old house dating back originally to Tudor times, with later Georgian changes and additions.
The owner, Mr Sellick, treated us to an informative and amusing introductory talk about the history of the house and how he and his wife had rescued it from the threat of developers in the 1980s and created the present glorious gardens in a romantic English style. Our visit took place in height of Rose Week and the many varieties of roses really were at their peak. Some of us took a tour with the Head Gardener and picked up several useful tips about growing roses. The gardens are also sprinkled liberally with delightful figurative sculptures that really catch the eye – though you’d need a deep pocket to buy most of them!
Pashley’s restaurant/café well satisfied the pangs of hunger that set in after our early start and then it was off to Great Dixter to see the famous gardens created by Christopher Lloyd round the house designed for his father, Nathaniel, by Lutyens. It’s not obvious but Great Dixter is actually three houses combined into one – the original house dating from the 15th C, one moved here lock, stock and barrel from Benenden in Kent in 1910 and the third built in 1912, as part of the design by Lutyens, who also designed the garden structure, to marry the other two together. We could only see some of the older parts of the house but it was well worth it just to see the great mediaeval hall.
The extensive garden planting is a complete contrast to the relative formality of Pashley – riotous profusion is everywhere: trees, shrubs and climbers rub shoulders with perennials, annuals and bulbs; unusual colour combinations abound; sometimes it looks like confusion but there is much skill and care behind it all. Most of our party found it simply exhilarating – and, if they found it all too much, made their way to café for a reviving cup of tea.
Needless to say our coach was furnished with not a few plants (and some rather nice baskets) on our return journey!
Photos from the event can be found in the Photo Gallery.