We visited this garden today.
I don't feel as though I am invading someone's privacy - you can find out about this place easily from the bed-and-breakfast site or from the National Garden Scheme site. The pictures show what a lovely place this is - although don't get your hopes up about staying there - the bed-and-breakfast part is now closed. I would have loved to have seen inside the house and to my great satisfaction there are some lovely pictures still up on the bed-and-breakfast site of the bedrooms that one could have stayed in.
I was fascinated by the house which dates from the 1500s. Above is a view from the paving at the side, and below from the font gate onto the road. Just look at those wayward room levels to the right of the front door. Was that a stable? or a store?
The gardens were quite subdued in colour at this time of the year. The hollow is actually a steep quarry, going up behind the house, of unpromising clay soil. The shrubs are all small; when one is used to the great mounds of camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas in the other Sussex gardens like Nymans, Borde Hill, Leonardslee (now closed) and High Beeches, the diminutive size of these ones gives the gardens an air of delicay. With so much ground revealed you can make out the shape and structure of the gardens as you follow the various meandering paths. The ground might be visible, but it was defintely not bare earth - primroses, primulas, hellebores, and bluebells were everywhere. Nearer the house "Dutchman's Trousers" were brightly in flower, and the wisteria was just coming into bud.
I'm writing like a travelogue. Download the magazine article here and read all about the garden yourself. And do have a look at the pictures on the website. I'd like to visit again later in the year when the huge beech tree behind the house is in leaf, and the tree house is in a green leafy space within the tree canopy...
I enjoyed the understated colours, the dull greys and greens and brick colours of the house. I liked the lack of showy, flamboyant, giant heads of flowers.
It was also fascinating to catch little bits of conversation between the owner and the visitors. "Everything in a flowerpot is for sale" became, "Ah, ladies, I'm afraid that the plant you have picked up is not for sale". Effusive apologies, by the would-be purchaser for her error - although, among the thousands of little plants lined up everywhere, it was fairly impossible to decide which might be for sale and which might not. In the end I resisted buying any plants simply because we haven't cleared any space in our garden to put them. However I have come away with some ideas for the "gloomy patch" down the shady side of the garden.
It reminds me, in a way, of the setting for Mary Stewart's romance "Thorneyhold". It is a place where stories should happen.