This weekend saw the OH and me celebrating (a month early) our 30th Wedding Anniversary having decided just a few days ago to go to Gravetye Manor.
Gravetye was the home of William Robinson, who bought it in 1884 and lived there until his death in 1935. At Gravetye he established the idea of the English natural garden, eschewing the ‘blobby’ Victorian bedding planting and, instead pioneering sweeping, painterly drifts of herbaceous perennials close to the house, but also establishing wonderful ‘wild’ areas of naturalised bulbs and wild flowers.
As the website says “The variety and charm of the arrangements of trees and shrubs and the layout of the different types of garden at Gravetye is still his creation and memorial. Even when very old and partly crippled he would go out in his wheelchair and scatter bulbs and seeds from a bag on his lap; the garden room he built at the end of the formal garden provided him with a shelter from which he could watch his beloved flowers and trees from a fresh viewpoint.”
I’d read about Robinson and Gravetye in The Garden magazine a couple of years ago and it’s been on my list ever since. Following the hotel changing hands in 2010 significant redevelopment work has taken place in the garden under the careful eye of Tom Coward (who had previously spent three years with Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter).
The gardens surround a wonderful hotel and aren’t available to just wander into, consequently our stay was planned as a special treat – to stay a night and enjoy the gardens as part of the visit.
Exiting through the bar you are greeted with the view above. The view is north westerly across the flower garden.
The timing of our visit was pretty much perfect with not only the tulips at their peak, but the Azalea Bank too. And you have to admire the backdrop of remarkable mature trees.
Further absolutely stunning displays surrounded the Flower Garden
Walking around to the orchard and then on towards the glasshouses, we passed this glorious sight
and we weren’t the only ones enjoying it! Can someone identify it please?
On to the glasshouses and there was a mixture of large scale production,
as well as rather more glamorous endeavours. Look at these fabulous peaches!
From the glasshouses we entered the astonishing elliptical 1.5 acre Kitchen Garden. Not only is this the first kitchen garden I’ve ever been in that wasn’t square or rectangular, but it’s also on a proper slope – the whole thing slopes really significantly towards the south east.
At the back of the Kitchen Garden we came across this beautiful ‘Allium Gate’. Apparently it was only made three years ago by a local female blacksmith. I haven’t been able to find out the name of the maker, but isn’t it wonderful?
All in all it was an amazing garden, so thank you Gravetye Manor, Tom Coward and William Robinson. Genius!