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Glorious Gravetye Manor

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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.IMG_2476IMG_2483

Further absolutely stunning displays surrounded the Flower GardenIMG_2462IMG_2520

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To the south of the Flower Garden is a huge Wildflower Meadow but there wasn’t a great deal to see at this time of year, but there were some lovely poppies!

Walking around to the orchard and then on towards the glasshouses, we passed this glorious sight

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and we weren’t the only ones enjoying it!  Can someone identify it please?IMG_2489

On to the glasshouses and there was a mixture of large scale production, IMG_2492

as well as rather more glamorous endeavours.  Look at these fabulous peaches!IMG_2493IMG_2494

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.IMG_2496IMG_2502

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?

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All in all it was an amazing garden, so thank you Gravetye Manor, Tom Coward and William Robinson.  Genius!IMG_2501

Now you see it…

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…now you don’t.img_2071

So, apologies to those who told me not to move the Acacia baileyana purpurea now, but the deed is done.  And so far it’s still looking pretty perky, but time will tell.

The Acacia move is all part of the realisation that I’m already behind and it’s only February.  None of which would matter apart from two things

  1. I’m now officially full time at work (three days in London, two at home)
  2. Not only am I opening the garden for the village Secret Gardens on June 25th this year, but I’ve been persuaded to take over organisation of the event.

So now you know.

But if there’s one thing I love it’s a deadline (oh and two college deadlines this month too!) and somehow, moving the Acacia was the sort of dramatic progress I needed, even if I kill it in the process.

The next question is, what to replace it with?  When it was first planted as an interesting purple leaved ‘mound’ it looked wonderful, but as soon as it became a tree I didn’t like the way it competed with the metal obelisk.  However, that doesn’t mean the bed doesn’t need something quite large to give some structure.  As some of you know, the bed has a ‘bruised’ coloured theme and so I am seriously considering a second Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ but that wouldn’t be evergreen (or indeed ever-purple).  Perhaps I could consider a purple Phormium – there is one in the bed in front to the right of the photo, but I don’t really like them and doubt I’d ever move it.  And whilst it would work quite well with the obelisk, it would seem a strange bedfellow for the roses.

Thoughts please!

Meanwhile the Acacia has now been moved to the left hand Lavender bed and is deliberately sited between the two existing trees.img_2073

Another thing I finally did this weekend was order my seeds.  Last year I bought them on Black Friday the year before (October 2015!) which felt far too early and resulted in me going rather bonkers as a) I didn’t have plan but b) I did have a discount.  This year, ordering them in February, definitely feels too late and I’m quite sure I’ve forgotten some.  And I’m also quite sure that annuals I’m hoping will be flowering by June won’t be.

Wish me luck!

To bee or not to bee #5

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As you may have gleaned, things have been rather busy recently chez Duver Diary and it was mid November before I suddenly realised I hadn’t returned my Mason Bee tubes. Thankfully it’s been mild here so I thought it was still worth doing.

I pulled out all the tubes and, as instructed, where no ‘cap’ was visible I held them up to the light to see if the tube was blocked (because apparently tubes can be occupied even if not capped) and sure enough there were a number which were blocked.

Happily, whereas in my last post in September I thought I had seven capped and therefore occupied tubes, when I actually investigated them all, there were fourteen!img_1898

As explained last time, some of the tubes appear to have been capped by leaves not mud – see below – and these are occupied by leaf cutter bee coccoons.  Mason Bees UK don’t want these returned, so I’m following their instructions to look after these at home.

I’ve now sent all the mud capped tubes off in a Jiffy bag and am looking forward to receiving another set of Red Mason Bee cocoons in the spring.img_1901

With thanks to Mason Bees UK for making it all so easy.