Garden Visits 2024

Sue Marsh has planned some wonderful garden visits for AGA Members in 2024:

The Walled Garden at Knepp Castle   2 pm Tuesday 21 May

Encouraged by the successful wilding of their estate, four years ago Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree asked Tom Stuart-Smith, James Hitchmough and Jekka McVicar to create a drought tolerant (“re-wilded”) private garden from the formal space that was so enjoyed by their antecedents.  When I visited last autumn I was instantly transported to Greece and the, almost unexpected, joy of the flora.  Everywhere the soil has been depleted so that drought tolerant plants can thrive and sandy paths wind their way through the Mediterranean landscape.  The croquet lawn has been replaced by a low hillock formed of broken brick and concrete gathered from a demolished farm building.  Extraordinarily, the plants chosen for this space need air rather than soil, and none was added; the plants thrive and there is no sign of the brick and concrete!

Charlie Harpur is the Head Gardener and he will give us a talk about the development of the garden and walk round with us.   Quoted in Gardens Illustrated Summer 2023, Charlie says “We are gardening hearts and minds as well (as plants)… we are absolutely not telling anyone what to do, but we do want to encourage everyone to consider the limits of what might be possible within their own garden”.  There is much to inspire in this place – and the tea and cake are good too!

£35 per AGA member. This visit is now fully booked.

Clinton Lodge at Fletching and Highlands at Framfield

11 am and 2:30 pm on Thursday 6 June

A two garden day at the height of summer!

Clinton Lodge is an oasis of calm seventeenth and eighteenth century design (the house is of this period) and we shall enjoy a cold drink with Lady Collum on the terrace before we walk round the garden that she designed.  Leading from the terrace is a great lawn, a haha at the far end and a column to steady the eye, seemingly in the meadows beyond.  The lawn is bounded on either side by a row of trees, their canopies cut into squares.  There are garden rooms of every description throughout the garden: a range of square ponds separated by box, a Roman bath at the end of the cavalcade and the column that was a distant point from the  lawn now appearing in the very middle of a space beyond the precise centre of the bath.   (To me, a mathematical miracle!)  Amongst many other delights, there is a seventeenth century inspired herb garden, while a water feature designed by William Pye runs the full length of the rose garden.   There is, too, a pavilion where Lady Collum gave dinner parties where guests were told to be of good humour, wear dinner jackets, long dresses and jewels.

Lunch at our own expense.  (The cost likely to be around £15 and Sue shall send menus from which she shall order your choice in advance).

Highlands   “Quite one of the best gardens I have seen!”, I wrote to a friend in June last year,  and I still think so – but which of these inspirational spaces is not?  Gardening on sandy loam, wealden clay, amended free draining gravel beds and boggy channel, Chris Brown , the Head Gardener, is nothing short of a magician!  We enter the garden through the orchard gate, arriving at a courtyard, the tiles of which were designed and made by the owner, and on into the white garden.  Water runs through the centre of the space and shining white iris, poppies, every conceivable white flower, delight the senses.  To the front of the house and walking down a slight hill (you can avoid this and still enjoy the spirit of the place), the soil becomes damp and Chris has made a virtue of this with his planting.  A natural stream runs down the side of a lawn, and here yellow iris and gunnera thrive. And then, virtually part of a wild flower meadow, there is a wild swimming pool where humans and great crested newts find their happy place!  A shepherd’s hut is the changing room and everywhere there is wit and charm.

Chris Brown will give a short introductory talk and walk round with us – and there will be time for private exploration.  We shall, of course, have tea and cake!

£40 for the whole day, but this could be divided. For details, see the Clinton and Highlands Garden Visits Form.