Hammerwood House, West Sussex (NGS)


Hammerwood House, Iping, West Sussex

Searching for a garden to visit in the Sussex Weald last weekend, we noticed in the NGS yellow book (have you got your copy yet?) that Hammerwood House, near Midhurst was open.



The pinkest Azalea overlooks the sweeping lawns

The bucolic approach to the property took in rolling hills and tiny narrow lanes dotted with picturesque cottages.  The house lies on the outskirts of Iping village, so just as you think you must have passed it, suddenly there is the signpost; a relief not to have to find somewhere to turn round and resume your search.  Oddly there were no welcoming yellow NGS ‘garden open’ signs, but more of that later. Continue reading


Felley Priory


Immaculate formal gardens at Felley Priory


Felley Priory is one of North Nottinghamshire’s best kept secrets.  Amazingly only half a mile from the M1, the tranquil and immaculate 3 acre garden, set against rolling hills provides a pleasant year-round garden visit.

The carefully planted garden takes into consideration the history of this ancient priory and some of the rare and unusual plants can be purchased in the nursery next door.

Dating from the late 12th Century, the Priory formerly consisted of twelve canons following the Rule of St Augustine.  In the Dissolution in 1535, most of the Priory was destroyed although parts were used elsewhere in the construction of the house and garden. Now a family home, the house is a handsome stone property with formal terraced gardens. Continue reading

Orchids at Kew Gardens


Stunning peacock in the glasshouse

At Kew Gardens this month, visitors can enjoy the promise of Spring in the garden where snowdrops, helebores and aconites are making an appearance.  For more exotic blooms, head for the Princess of Wales glasshouse, where a taste of India awaits in the form of giant floral displays celebrating the culture and plant life of India. Continue reading

Blenheim Palace


Atmospheric lighting at the water terraces

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is quite rightly a popular destination for garden and history lovers alike.  The title of Palace is a worthy one given its splendour and pomp. The Palace, built between 1705 and 1722 is complimented by formal gardens designed by Henry Wise and a water parterre designed by Achille Duchêne. With landscaped grounds re-designed by Capability Brown, there is much to see and this winter, the spectacle of Christmas illuminations was not to be missed.

Best viewed at dusk for obvious reasons, the gardens and grounds took on a mysterious quality whereby visitors were encouraged to follow a path of light leading though the formal gardens towards the landscaped grounds beyond. Continue reading

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich. The Salutation.

traditional long borders and Lutyens house

The long borders towards the house

The Salutation in Sandwich, Kent is probably best known as being the former home to Steph and Dom of ‘Gogglebox’ fame.  However it is also home to the most marvellous garden, the bones of which were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll to compliment the Edwin Lutyens house, built between 1911-1912.

brick path and tropical planting

the tropical entrance to the gardens

The gardens, which are open to the public are known as the ‘Secret Gardens of Sandwich’, presumably because one would not expect to find such lushness in the middle of a town, albeit one of the best preserved medieval towns in England. Continue reading

RHS Rosemoor, Devon

The house at Rosemoor, Devon

The house at Rosemoor

The RHS garden, Rosemoor is situated near Torrington in Devon and set in a deep wooded valley beside the river Torridge. Originally created as a private garden by Lady Anne Palmer (born in 1919) the garden was gifted to the RHS in 1988 and in 1990 it was opened to the public as a ‘garden for all seasons’. Continue reading

Hauser and Wirth Garden at Durslade Farmhouse, Somerset

Hauser and Wirth garden and gallery at Brunton in Somerset is so achingly modern and on trend that it an unexpected find in the middle of Somerset. A short detour from the A303 it is certainly worth a visit, especially to break a journey en-route to the West Country.

Durslade’s Farmhouse forms part of a group of Grade II listed farm buildings that date back to as early as the mid 1700s and was taken over by Hauser and Wirth in 2012 when they received planning permission to convert the derelict farm into something quite different.


Today, Durslade’s Farm is a ‘World Class’gallery and multi-purpose arts centre’  featuring innovative exhibitions of contemporary art. Behind lies the ‘Oudolf Field’ designed for the gallery by landscape architect Piet Oudolf. The area has a signature Oudolf appeal and at the time of our visit in mid-July the planting was beginning to take on its midsummer finery. Continue reading

Overbeck’s, Salcombe, Devon

Overlooking the Salcombe estuary, Overbeck’s is a National Trust property, built in 1913 and was formerly a convalescent home for injured soldiers. The house was bought by Otto Overbeck in 1928 and left to the National Trust in 1937 following his death.

The steep and densely planted grounds overlook the beautiful Salcombe Estuary and are home to a great number of exotic species including palms, tree ferns and banana trees. Continue reading

Kew Gardens – a special evening.

The evening opening of the Great Broad Walk Borders, Kew

The opening of the Great Broad Walk Borders, Kew

Kew Gardens has long been a destination for garden visitors.  The magnificent Victorian Palm House is real draw, being the most important surviving example in the world and housing a vast array of exotic palms and ferns from around the globe. In addition the modern Princess of Wales conservatory features a staggering array of cacti, orchids and other species, recreating 10 climatic zones. The Orangery, built in 1761 serves as a magnificent cafe and the entire garden spans a staggering 300 acres.

The Orangery, Kew

The Orangery, Kew

Founded in 1840, the importance of Kew is not to be underestimated.  Housing more than 30,000 plant species, Kew also holds a library of over 750,000 books.  The gardens are too vast to take in on a single visit and even more so now that the new Great Broad Walk has been created.  At 320 metres long, the newly planted double herbaceous borders line the route of the original broad walk path, running through the centre of the gardens from the Orangery to the Palm House. Continue reading