Garden Portrait: Autumn Sizzle

Originally landscaped by Capability Brown in 1776 from surrounding woodland is Sheffield Park in East Sussex. A garden for all seasons, it is during autumn when it is at its most magnificent. Lambent tongues of orange, gold and vermilion burns brightly against a cobalt sky. Japanese maples, fothergillas (mountain witch alder), Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum), Taxodium distichum (bald cypressand Parrotia persica, the Persian ironwood, take on their seasonal finery to create a vibrant tapestry of rich shades to wow and dazzle visitors.

Meandering pathways

It is like walking in an Impressionist painting, the views and vistas are spectacular, including those that lead the eye to the imposing mansion built on the axis. Continue reading

Wild Rye

Sunday mornings don’t usually find me on the seashore, but this particular Sunday in July whilst we were holidaying in West Kent I noticed that there was a free guided Nature Walk at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Now being only 20 minutes away AND free  I thought that would be a great way to spend a couple of hours and learn something about specific shingle flora too.

Rye Harbour was once a very busy fishing port, but over the centuries the harbour has silted up and the village now lies two miles from the town of Rye. The Nature Reserve  is quite flat with some wheelchair access to all five of the bird watching hides and many paths suitable for rugged wheelchairs with some paths along a private tarmac road.


So if you have ever wandered on the shingle shores and salt-marshes of England and wondered about what grows in such an inhospitable landscape then come along and we’ll see what we can find.

DSCF1677 Continue reading

Garden Portrait: Great Dixter

Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd – it was the focus of his energy and enthusiasm and fuelled over 40 years of books and articles. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is a historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.



Open from April to the end of October, the nursery is open all year round.


Entrance, Peacock Garden and High Garden

The gardens surround the house and buildings so if you make a circuit of the gardens you will have made a circuit of the house. Each garden has a view of others. I made my way anti-clockwise from the entrance, passing through the meadow garden, which was over in July, and on to the lawn in front of the lovely 15th or 16th century timber-framed house. To the left of the porch as you face the house Edwin Lutyens combined a 16th century yeoman’s house moved from Benenden in 1910 with the original building to create what is now Great Dixter. Climbing up the steps into the Peacock Topiary and High Garden you are immediately struck by the mass of planting threatening to hide the paths that lead you through the garden. The paths form a cross and central area where you can take in the roofline of the house and its imposing chimneys.

 The Long Border

The Long Border is divided from the meadow and orchard by a flagstone path and a narrow mowed strip of lawn. Plants are crammed in so that no patches of bare earth can be seen and flowers sprawl over the path softening the edges. It is a border designed for mid-June to mid-August with a simple Lutyens seat at one end. Tall plants are allowed at the front of the border as long as an open texture allows you to see behind, the tall Verbascum are valued for their tall narrow stature.

The Exotic Garden

From the Long Border walk down the circular Lutyens steps, partially shaded by a huge mulberry tree and covered in Erigeron karvinskianus and across to the Exotic Garden.  Once a cattle-yard, then a rose garden it is now filled with fairly hardy foliage plants for a tropical effect.  Dahlias and cannas add spectacular colour.



The Blue Garden, the Walled Garden and the Sunken Garden


The Blue Garden is a small space between the topiary lawn and the Walled Garden. Lutyens steps lead through to the walled garden which is paved with  a mosaic of two dachshunds, Dahlia and Canna that belonged to Christopher Lloyd. Continue through this colourful space – with many terracotta pots – into the Barn Garden which borders the Sunk Garden.

Dachshund Mosaic



The Solar Garden


The largest single area of bedding, is in the Solar garden, next to the old bay tree and facing the front of the house. Behind you can see the barn and the Oast house.


 We’ve come full circle now, though I haven’t shown you everything that this garden has to offer. I think it may take more than one visit to absorb everything that Great Dixter contains, and I never even went inside that beautiful house.

  • Street:  Great Dixter
  • Postcode:  TN31 6PH
  • City:  Northiam
  • County:  Sussex
  • Country: United Kingdom

The Glory of the Garden


Bateman’s is a 17th-century house located in the pretty white weather-boarded village of Burwash, East Sussex, England. Author Rudyard Kipling lived in Bateman’s from 1902 to his death in 1936. His wife left the house to the National Trust on her death in 1939, and it has since been opened to the public. If you are a fan of Kipling then the beautiful Jacobean house with its six stack column chimneys will be a draw as it has been left exactly as when the family lived there, including an impressive study where Kipling wrote and a room where manuscripts and unusual objects and collections are displayed. The interior of the house reflects Kipling’s strong links with the Indian subcontinent including many oriental rugs and Indian works of art and artifacts.

Explore the English country gardens with the manicured lawns and clipped yew hedges, lily pond and roses then wander through the meadow with its wild flowers and small flowing river where chickens roam free. The gardens are not big, but they are set in 33 acres of wonderful Sussex countryside, the inspiration for some of Kipling’s later works.

You reach the house down what Kipling described as “an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane” to arrive in the National Trust car park. A path from the entrance leads through to a herb garden and orchard to the house, café, shop and gardens.

Poem “The Glory of the Garden”  by Rudyard Kipling.

“OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You’ll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.”



“And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise ;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows ;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.”


In the walled garden, where there is a summer terrace for the café, you can also grab a picnic blanket and sit on the lawn and enjoy the colourful borders.

“Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:-” Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.
There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.”

Walking around to the back of the house brings you to the pond and rose garden.


“Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner In the Glory of the Garden.
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!”

Leaving the formal gardens behind a track leads through the wild meadow where bees are kept, chicken roam free and a small stream meanders to the mill.


 “And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away !”

Shrub Rose

Shrub Rose

  • Street:  Batemans, Burwash
  • Postcode: TN19 7DS
  • City:  Etchingham
  • County:  East Sussex
  • Country:  United Kingdom

Pashley Manor Gardens

Pashley Manor Gardens is on the border of East Sussex and Kent. Famous for its Tulip Festival in spring regrettably I have never visited before despite my love of tulips. It is a garden worth visiting at any time during the open season from 1st April to 30th September as there are several different areas. Between the end of April and mid-May the woods are open for the Bluebell Walk when the woodland is carpeted in a magical mantle of blue. July and August is Lily time and each year Pashley exhibits the work of many eminent sculptors, including work by local sculptors, some of which is for sale.

There is also a lovely courtyard tea-room and summer terrace where you can sit under a parasol, eat quiche and salad, sip iced-coffee and admire the wonderful views over the lawns and old moat. And try to ignore the dozens of ducks underfoot.

The first area you enter are the herbaceous and  hot borders, full of roses, lilies, dahlias, clematis, monarda, helenium, fuchsias and penstemon.



From here you can wander through to the woodland or enter the Walled Garden where you will find roses and a potager.


Up some steps – stop to admire the sculptures – and into the walled swimming pool area which looks very inviting now that the sun has appeared. At the far end is a small greenhouse filled with pelargoniums, pretty Streptocarpus and ferns.


Boy sitting

Boy sitting

Amongst the borders edging the lawns and summer terrace are dozens of perfumed lilies

Summer Terrace

Summer Terrace


and my favourite sculpture:


Wood Nymph