Another off island adventure and so another excuse for a garden visit, this time to the National Trust Woolbeding Gardens near Midhurst in West Sussex.
I knew we’d be coming down the A3 and would therefore be close by, but I also remembered the garden had limited opening times. Amazingly, it turned out the day we were passing (last Friday) happened to be the last open day of the year! The garden is now closed until next spring, when it will reopen, as before, on Thursdays and Fridays only.
As you arrive you’re welcomed by this wonderful formal water garden, designed by the Bannermans (of whom more later), which sets the scene for what is clearly going to be quite some garden.
The Woolbeding Estate of over 1,000 acres was given to the National Trust by the Lascelles family in 1957, with 26 acres devoted to the gardens. The house, below, is still in private ownership, and not open, but there are a whole range of similarly beautiful stone outbuildings and walls which help make the garden so special.
In 1972 Woolbeding was leased to Simon Sainsbury, and subsequently his partner Stewart Grimshaw, who developed it into the wonderful garden it is today. Initially they focussed on the area closest to the house and, with the help of American garden designer Lanning Roper, they remodelled with ‘clear structure, elegance and restraint’, creating a series of garden rooms.
Looking west from the house are two herbaceous borders, still exhibiting plenty of colour in cool blues and purples.
Through the immaculate hedging to the hotter, more exotic feeling greenhouse garden
And into the greenhouse, where they still had a voracious Ipom0ea flowering.
Crossing back across the herbaceous borders and into the herb garden, with immaculate trained apples.
Through to the orangery with views of a beautiful pool.
There are stunning pots throughout the garden, including this one, with Anisodontea and matching Salvia, see below.
On to the veg area, which was huge, and, in keeping with the rest of the garden, immaculate.
I had to admire these Tromboncino (which I’d heard Charlotte Mendelson discussing in her hilarious interview with Jenny Murray on Thursday’s Women’s Hour. I’m definitely going to read her new book ‘Rhapsody in Green‘)
On to the well garden, where I admired this fabulous combination.
Away from the garden rooms the William Pye sculpture dominates. I rather like it but the OH definitely didn’t.
Walking round the church and south takes you past this magnificent Cedar
and the charming Tulip Folly. The folly has been built on the site of a 100ft tulip tree. It was felled by the great storm of October 1987 and apparently only missed the house by a couple of feet.
A further stroll takes you to the rather separate ‘Pleasure Gardens’ which were created later with the help of Julian and Isabel Bannerman. (Coincidentally there was an interesting article in the Telegraph on the Bannermans this Saturday).
Here there is a ruined chapel, a rustic hermit’s hut,
wonderful bordered path leading to
a glowing yellow bridge.
Back towards the exit you can’t help but admire all the wonderful structures – this gorgeous curved wall by the church
lovely stone buildings and attractive, classy furniture.
This really was a stunning garden. So much structure which lent a real sense of discovery. The formal garden isn’t that huge but as each area is so different it feels more substantial.
This has definitely moved straight into my top 5 gardens and I can’t wait to return in the spring. Thanks National Trust and Woolbeding. I’ll be back.
Oh and PS can someone tell me what this is please? It was a good 6ft tall.