Open Gardens In April

Open Gardens In April

by Geoff Stonebanks

April sees garden gates opening up across Sussex for the National Garden Scheme. Geoff Stonebanks highlights a few of these horticultural delights.

CLINTON LODGE

Lady Collum’s Clinton Lodge is open for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 29th April from 2-5.30pm. The garden itself is approximately six acres of clay soil and is divided into rooms reflecting English garden design from the 17th to 21st century. The double herbaceous borders echo the style of the late Victorian gardens, when many hitherto unknown plants were introduced from North America, China and Japan.

The colours were inspired by the sight of sheets of larkspur and monkshood seen while on a canoeing expedition in the Rocky Mountains. Delphiniums, phlox, monkshood and drifts of iris, crambe cordifolia and arums are set rhythmically between yew and box. The colours are restricted to blue, white and occasionally pale yellow, changing with the season.

Another room, the Herb Garden, is divided into four squares by intersecting paths with a fountain basin in the centre. Knots of 17th century design fill the spaces at the corners and sweet briar roses grow at the back of the narrow beds. Every plant in this part of the garden is aromatic, including meadowsweet, Indian physic, sweet cicely, lovage, lavender, hyssop, lemon balm and garlic chives. Features include turf seats in Medieval style, a ‘cut out view’ of the park through the beech hedge and pleached lime walks. The paths of chamomile are designed to release their fragrance at the touch of a foot. A gargoyle, partly hidden by the ornamental vine, brings the sound of water.

Clinton Lodge, Fletching, Sussex, TN22 3ST. £6.00, children free. Homemade teas.

OFFHAM HOUSE

The garden will be open on Sunday 29th April from 1-5pm. Drive two miles north of Lewes on the A275 and you will find the Queen Anne Offham House, with its 1676 well-knapped flint façade. See banks, richly studded with primroses and violets, followed by vast luscious lawns leading round the side of the property to a wonderful conservatory, where homemade teas are served.

Heading off to see the double herbaceous borders and peony bed, one’s eye cannot fail to notice the glorious views of the rolling Sussex countryside. As you wander through this large romantic garden you can pause to admire the fountains, irises and interesting statuary. There is much to see, ponds, swathes of spring flowers, an arboretum and everywhere an exuberance of blossom, flowering cherries and fruit trees. You can also visit the working part of the garden with its herb area, walled kitchen garden, glasshouses, cold frames, chickens, guinea fowl and a friendly pig! Dogs on short leads are welcome. Why not buy a plant to take home as a nice reminder of a lovely afternoon out?

Offham House, The Street, Offham, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 3QE. Admission £5.00, children free. Tea & homemade cake.

Other National Garden Scheme gardens open in April

  • Banks Farm, Boast Lane, Barcombe, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5DY

A 9-acre garden set in rural countryside. Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th April from 11am-4pm. Admission £5.00, children free. Homemade teas.

  • Newtimber Place, Newtimber, West Sussex, BN6 9BU

A beautiful spring garden which has been opening for the National Garden Scheme since 1929. Sunday 15th April from 2-5.30pm. Admission £5, children free. Homemade teas.