Gardenproud Blog

Archive for the ‘Vegetable and Kitchen Gardens’ Category

See Gardenproud on Instagram

Friday, January 29th, 2016

We’ve recently joined Instagram and have the grand total of 30 Followers!

So a long way to go yet.

We are trying to upload new photos everyday.

The above photo features Basil who is one of our regular ride-on drivers, it’s already got a like from would you believe John Deere!

If you are looking for great pictures to inspire your garden thinking, then look no further than Gardenproud. You can see us at www.instagram.com

If you haven’t already signed up you can download the app for i-phone (IOS) , Android, or Windows phone at the above, or visit your App Store on your phone.

Looking forward to having you as Followers soon!

Gardenproud Photo Highlights 2015

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

2015 was an excellent year for Gardenproud.

Lots of new projects for the landscaping division and some previous projects revisited and updated. Which is all good stuff as gardens evolve.

We went to Chelsea and gleaned inspiration from the latest designs, braved the weather and enjoyed the champagne. We’ve started designing and creating garden buildings as part of our landscaping offer. The Maintenance teams  worked extremely hard to cope with the new assignments, and new gardeners joined the team. We look forward to recruiting more team members in 2016.

It is with great sadness to report that Emmett Gilah, who was a regular member of the team, has unfortunately died. He was an industrious chap and good gardener and far too young to die. Our thoughts go out to his family. Thank you Emmett you will be sorely missed.

2015 was a big year for us, as we moved house. We haven’t moved for 16 years. So had forgotten just how stressy and time consuming the whole process is. Especially when you are also trying to run two businesses. So having beautified our last house and completely re-fashioned the garden, we now have a new garden. So watch this space!

Fortunately shortly after moving we had a holiday. Which was a real tonic. Sarah and I visited a number of gardens during our summer holiday. We went to Madeira, which was an eye opener. We went in August, but if you really want to see the flora, I suggest you go in April or May. But do go. It is a wonderful island and it benefits from a sub-tropical climate. Over the years it has had a strong British influence, so the planting is a bit a mixture between those we see in the UK and more tropical specimens. There is a very good book (which I bought) written by an Englishman, Gerald Luckhurst. He is a landscape architect and has designed and built many gardens on Madeira. Sounds like a rather good job!

Back home and back to work on our plans for the new house and various gardens.

So here we are already in 2016. A new house, a new garden, a greenhouse for the first time, some new possible avenues, new projects and new gardens. Oh yes, we’ve got a little more savvy on the media front – we are already on Facebook, we are now on Instagram! I think we have the grand total of 30 followers, so do look us up (my son claims to have 1400)!  I don’t believe him.

See us at www.instagram.com

Enough said, 2016 looks busy, I’d better stop writing and get on with it!

Highlights of Chelsea 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

By Tim Sykes, Design Director at Gardenproud – 20/5/15

Team members from Gardenproud had a lovely day at The Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. Albeit typical English weather, we braved the showers and enjoyed the sunshine when it came.

The intro photo is a homage to one conclusion. That that among other colours, “orange” was very much part of the planting plan for many gardens.

Interestingly this colour is in with fashion designers this year. So maybe we should all read Vogue instead of the Garden Design Journal?

Weather apart, the show was really very good.

The first garden we saw was Jo Thompson’s M&G sponsored design – The Retreat. As you’d expect as the main sponsor for the show, no expense spared here. But, Jo really did herself proud on this and it looked amazing. I particularly liked her planting and the pontoons sitting in the water looked stunning.

Jo got a Silver-Gilt for this, but in my mind she should have received a Gold.

The next garden that grabbed our attention was Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam’sLiving Legacy. This garden commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

And how poignantly they achieve this.

With their scaffold poles carefully grinded into jagged spears the scene is set for a dramatic vista.

The guys received a Silver Gilt and what can I say, a very original idea well deserving of the award.

The next garden that certainly caught my wife’s eye was HRH Prince Harry’s Lesotho inspired project, designed by Matt Keightley (Matt is of 2014 fame with his “Hope on the Horizon” garden – brilliant). Hope is still in the name – “Hope in Vulnerability”

Well another Silver-Gilt was awarded, but like Jo’s I thought this garden really deserved a Gold.

Note the orange flowers!

I’m not sure if I’m old and fuddy duddy, but I didn’t like what I call the Bus Stop garden. The planting was very nice, but the architecture and hard landscaping seemed at odds, almost disconnected. Obviously my opinion is not relevant! This is the Cloudy Bay Garden, designed by Harry and David Rich. And it got a Gold!

Very clever, but not my cup of tea.

A clear favourite for one of our team members was the Homebase garden – Urban Retreat - in Association with Macmillan Cancer Research. Designed by Adam Frost.  I have to say this was a really refreshing entry from Homebase and it definitely deserved a Gold.

Two pics on this one. Well done Adam.

In the same vain, there was another garden, a little smaller, but none the less, no less brilliant. This was in the Fresh Gardens category, designed by Ruth Willmott – The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Garden. I really liked this garden.

A high contrast looking space both in terms of the way the hard and soft landscaping co-exist. Ruth has done a great job. Helped by a superb sculpture  by Rick Kirby.

Among the smaller gardens, I was struck by the exotic beauty of the Kranji, by Esmond Landscape. This was designed by John Tan and Raymond Tah. What a wonderful inspiration for those really difficult spaces where you have a huge drop just behind the house, that needs landscaping. A waterfull. why didn’t I think of it! The contractors landform did a super job of creating the vision, and here it is….

Ah! Look another glimpse of orange.

Well a Silver-Gilt, and well deserved.

Now, I have this really annoying habit of talking to anybody, and my wife despairs. She usually walks on at flower shows and I then have to try and find where the dickens she’s gone, which is all very stressful! But there I was, transfixed by the Viking Ocean Cruises show stand and being very rude about the whole idea of cruises and this chap said, “I know what you mean!” 50 something and not wanting to admit it. I spoke to guy, who I thought was just another punter, but he could just as easily have been a carefully planted Viking salesman. Anyway he was my age and I rudely commented on the people of a certain age who frequented cruises, then he corrected me and said he thought the same. But, ” couldn’t understand why his parents always went on cruises”. Then he went on one and is hooked. So maybe we will try one! Anyway the Viking garden was very impressive.

There were lots of other gardens and some really very smart commercial stands. One particular stand I was impressed by was the A Place in the Garden Stand. These guys had some wonderful outdoor lanterns and interesting zinc oversize balls. The  mixing of which with some traditional buxus balls could look stunning..

I had a long chat and was surprisingly impressed by the reasonable pricing strategy. So look them up at www.distinctivegarden.co.uk

Ok, so this is it…..

You cannot possibly ignore the shear passion and energy that went into the Chatsworth Garden. It is an unbelievable feat of design and logistics.

Dan Pearson, the designer is a god.

He has taken a great chunk of the garden and transposed it piece by piece, low loader, by low loader and recreated it at Chelsea.

I take my hat off to his courage, persuasive manner and ability to see through such a vision.

He thoroughly deserves BEST IN SHOW!

For further information or help with designing your garden for 2015 contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820, 0r at info@reallygardenproud.com

How to create your very own Cuttings Garden

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Tim Sykes of Tunbridge Wells based Gardenproud,
shares with us some inspiration for our summer gardens……..

Imagine a year round supply of your favourite blooms to display in your hallway, without the cost of buying a bouquet every week?

That priceless fresh aroma and splendid display that welcomes you every time you enter your house.

Well you could be creating your own supply of fresh blooms.


Why not dedicate an area of your garden to an experiment this year?

I was inspired to research into Cuttings Gardens last Summer, having visited Les Jardins du Manoir d’Erignac in the Dordogne.

In the kitchen area of the garden a large bed had been dedicated to a rotational plan of flowering. It was chockablock full of blooms of varying varieties, creating a kaleidoscope of colours and choice for the avid flower arranger. The area Erignac had set aside was quite large, probably c 12 x 6m.


But you don’t need such a large space. Just 3 x 4m would be more than sufficient.

A conversation with one of my gardening colleagues revealed an approach. Jenny who has worked with us for over 2 years has recently created her own Cuttings Garden.



She has been in the horticultural business for over 10 years. She specialises at the moment in traditional, seasonal outdoor crops such as Sweet Peas, Cornflowers, and Ammi. For the past 2 years she has grown almost everything from seed, producing crops from June through to October.

Jenny comments: ” It’s great that there is such a ‘buzz” around British grown blooms at the moment, so come on, leap on the bandwagon and start your very own flower patch!”

So what could you be planting in your Cuttings Garden?


Well here are some ideas…..


Jenny’s plan is based on an area of c 4.5m x 3.5m. It features 4 raised beds (2m x 1.5m each), with shingle pathways between them. If you like vegetables and herbs then by adding two further beds of similar sizes you could have a complete Kitchen Garden.


Her planting list includes:

In Bed 1 – Mostly Shrubs and Perennials, including Sarcocca confuse, Convallaria majalis,Papaver orientalis and Gladiolus nanus


Bed 2 - Mostly Hardy Annuals, including Ammi majus, Calendula officinalis, Consolida ajacis and Briza maxima


Bed 3 - Mostly Biennials, including Digitalis, Eryngium giganteum and Dianthus barbatus


Bed 4 - Mostly Half hardy annuals, including Didiscus, Nicotiana, Sunflower/Rudbeckia and Sweat Peas


It is best to cordon off an area of the garden that is in full sunlight. You may need to incorporate a leaky pipe system, or be prepared to embark on a regular watering regime.

Most flowers are best picked when they are just starting to show colour. This except some plants, such as roses and dahlias, which may not fully develop if picked too early.

For best results, collect cut flowers in the morning when their stems are full of water.

Avoid picking flowers during warm and sunny conditions as they will be water stressed.

Place the stems into a bucket of water as soon as possible after cutting.

Good luck and enjoy the summer sunshine in your garden.

For further help, or information about designing, or creating your own cuttings, herb or vegetable garden contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or see Gardenproud at www.reallygardenproud.com

New Look at Gardenproud!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The new Gardenproud brochure is printed and available for you to see.

It features some of the highlights from our recent Landscaping projects.

To get your copy, or for more information about our

Design, Construction or Maintenance services,

just contact us at info@reallygardenproud.com

or, call Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015 – a photo walk through the gardens of 2014 with Gardenproud

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Just a glimpse at some of the gardens we have created, maintained, visited and enjoyed during the year.

Looking forward to 2015.

We hope you all have a very enjoyable Christmas and New Year celebration.

For more information about Gardenproud, our Garden Maintenance, Garden Design and Landscaping services please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com

The Secret Gardens of Venice

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

By Tim Sykes, 1st September 2014

When you land at Marco Polo Airport and jump on a Riva to whisk you into the metropolis of Venice, gardens are a long way from your thoughts. The exhilaration of sitting, or standing (holding on tight) to a fast boat speeding between lush islands towards a water bound roman city is truly surreal.

This was our second trip to Venice and I was determined to find those secret gardens I’d heard so much about.

Unfortunately we also had to fit in few other things, some shopping and a visit to the Venice film festival! All in 3 days!

The guide books suggested a few gardens we might investigate. Top on the list was the Royal Gardens, particially because if their close proximity to our hotel – Hotel Splendid – and it was, I do recommend it.

The Royal Gardens were originally conceived by Napoleon. The Giardinetti Reali was created in the early 19c to give him an enhanced view from his nearby offices.

Old photo of the Royal Gardens, as they were intended

I was expecting great things. The structure was certainly there and potential for an amazing experience. Unfortunately the reality was far from it. Instead, a well conceived structure was ruined by lack of maintenance, lack of investment and miss use. They had decayed into a shadow of the gardens Napoleon must have conceived.

I felt like getting out our hedge trimmers, flying over our top gardeners and tasking them to weed the beds and clear the pathways!

Let’s hope that the Venice Municipality regain their vision and next time we visit somebody has restored the gardens to their rightful glory.

Back onto the search for those secret gardens………

Despite the initial impression you get of very little appreciation of the flora, there is actually quite a lot going on in the  passageways , rooftops, balconies and courtyards of many private houses. As we found when we visited nearby Lido and Burano islands……

Not only have we discovered signs of greater things, but so have many much more celebrated gardeners and journalists. In fact there’s a new book (which I have ordered from Amazon), The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto, by Jenny Condie, with some fantastic photographs by Alex Ramsay.

If you go to Amazon and pop in the search against ” The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto” and up will come the book. You can pick it up for £22.75. You can also get a sneak preview of the pages and appreciate just how many gardens you can gain access to from the Venice basin.

The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto draw together an amazing variety of spellbinding garden retreats, from monastery gardens quietly cultivated in the islands of the lagoon to magnificent villas on the Brenta Canal, and baroque masterpieces in the hills beyond. Highlights include an eerie Masonic garden complete with gothic chapel and cavernous grottoes, a pleasure garden made for his workers by a benevolent nineteenth-century industrialist, and a flower-filled delight by the banks of the Grand Canal.”

So it’s well worth a look before like me you hop onto a plane!

From our island visits we returned to Venice and carried on our search. As you turn each corner you gain glimpses of many private gardens and courtyards through wrought iron gates and over the tops of terraces and walls. Some garden adornments are quite bizarre…

One of the nicest gardens we visited was linked to the Guggenheim Museum.

Well actually it was Peggy Guggenheim’s garden.

Peggy bought Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in 1948, where she lived. The villa is in fact an unfinished palace begun in 1748, designed by Lorenzo Boschetti.  It stands today at the entrance to the Grand Canal and the house and gardens are now home to her extensive collection of modern art and sculpture. Among the famous artists work on display are  Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Henry Moore, Magritte, Francis Bacon and Jackson Pollock.

From inside the gallery there are stunning views of the Grand Canal and even the odd rather nice courtyard garden!

Peggy amassed a huge collection and lived in Venice for 30 years. She died aged 81 in 1979 and her ashes are buried in the garden, alongside the place where she customarily buried her beloved dogs.

After our visit to see Peggy’s collection we treated ourselves to a real Venetian food experience.

We came across Al Vecio Forner by chance in a narrow street just around the corner from the Guggenheim. And it was a great find. Simple italian food served a bustling environment, with good affordable wine and pleasant service from a very busy italian waiter. We shared a table with a very friendly Canadian couple which helped make the experience. We both chose a seafood risotto, which we washed down with a nice bottle of italian sauvignon.

Trip Advisor also gives Al Vecio Forner good reviews. ” This is a small busy Osteria located close to the Peggy Guggenhiem museum. We enjoyed lunch twice here. We ordered the mixed plate (selection of appetisers chosen by waiter), veal steak, grilled squid, and squid in ink with polenta. Everything was tasty but in a heavier/heartier way; as expected of a good bistro/osteria. I think the owner is the chef as it show with the care taken in the kitchen (not always a given in tourist towns). Service was spot on (ie. efficient, non nonsense, but some wry italian humour thrown in) despite there being only one guy serving the room and one guy behind the bar. Price was very reasonable. Please note reservations are not possible.”

A very enjoyable end to a super holiday.

It’s amazing how quickly 3 days can pass! Before we knew what was happening we were packing our bags to return to Marco Polo Airport and a flight home.

Still I plan to read Jenny Condie’s book, and return soon with renewed vigor and focus. That’s of course if my wife can bear going to Venice again!

For further information about Venice, the gardens of Venice, or garden design contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820, or via email at reallygardenproud@btinternet.com

Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac

Friday, August 1st, 2014

By Tim Sykes - 23/7/14

After a lot of research and compromise. Having visited Villandry at the start of our vacation, I was limited to one other garden visit! To my fortune we struck upon The Gardens at Eyrignac, just NE of Sarlat.

On the face of it not that far from where we were staying at a lovely house in Bergerac. So yesterday Sarah(my wife) and I set off for the day, leaving our boys to look after the ranch and enjoy the poolside inactivity.

Our journey to Eyrignac took us along the banks of the Dordogne, through the pretty village of Lalinde, past Tremolat, the hilltop village of St Cyprien, and onto the wonders of the cliff face settlement of Beynac, before heading north toward Sarlat.

Sarlat is a beautiful town which is very much at the centre of the holiday trade in the Dordogne, there’s money here! You can see it in the shops, the profusion of smart restaurants, the freshly painted facades, and the car parking spaces – full of Audi’s, BMW’s and the odd Maserati ( anybody willing to donate to me a matt black Gran Turisimo S and I’ll be your friend for life )!

From Sarlat we took the D704, then the D60 towards Salignac- Eyvigues. The turning to Eyrignac is on your right just before you get to Salignac.

Eyrignac is one of France’s most beautiful private gardens, and contains some fine topairy. It is owned by the Sermadris family, who have nurtured the house and gardens over some 22 generations.

A team of six gardeners maintain close to 10 acres of gardens. Key to the gardens success and unification is the strict rule that limits the number of main species in the gardens, to 10 varieties. The topiary features hornbeam, yew, Mediterranean cypress, apple trees, box, and mulberry trees.

One of the most amazing vistas is the avenue of shaped hornbeam and cylindrical yew topiary that directs you down a corridor towards the house.

The hornbeams provide a nice contrast to the dark and dense structure of the yew columns, a lighter green during the summer, and brown leaf during the winter. They look like beech, but the leaves are smaller, and so give a denser hedge.

Behind the hornbeam alley are two other interesting features. The first is the swimming pool. You’d feel like a greek goddess stepping into this deep blue pool.

With it’s Perigord style building alongside.

The second is the wide avenue that runs behind the pool and pavilion. It features some topiary of a grand scale, juxtaposed with large conifers (potentially a hangover from the garden’s previous English Parkland era) .

At one end of this avenue is a hornbeam rotunda. This has carefully cut windows framing beautiful vistas of the surrounding countryside.

At the opposite end of the avenue is the last surviving reminder of the English romantic period which influenced the gardens in the 19th century. The Neogothic English Arches.

With the dappled sandy surfaces of the courtyard entrance beyond..

These gardens are just idyllic! The Sermadris family have had a vision and they have just stuck with it.

Our travels took us to the Cuttings Garden, the Potager Garden, The Topiary Farmyard, The Meadow and finally the White Garden.

The Potager Garden was contained within a fenced and neatly pathed area…

The Topiary Farmyard is where the latest shapes are formed to replenish the gardens stock.

In contrast to the formality of the gardens the Meadow Area is a breath of fresh air!

Finally the White Garden

This recent feature combines geometric shapes of fine topiary, with water features and white perennial planting.

So what more can one say? This is a superb garden and one we shall re-visit.

The Shop? I managed to find the summer hat I’d been looking for ages, plus a very nice book about Eyrignac.

The only let down was the restaurant, after a long drive we were looking for a nice watering hole, alas only a posh ice cream to greet us. This could be something Eyrignac might address.

Otherwise it was a fantastic experience.

For further information contact Manoir d’Eyrignac direct at  www.eyrignac.com or  Tim Sykes of Gardenproud at 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com

The Gardens of Villandry

Monday, July 28th, 2014

By Tim Sykes – 28/7/14

Whenever the name Villandry is mentioned it conjures up hazy memories of long boozy lunches during my advertising heydays! A restauranteur rather cleverly created an excellent restaurant, come wine shop, come bar, come specialist food store in Great Portland Street. I’m pleased to say it’s still thriving today, some 15 years after my last lunch! Do pop in if you are passing that way. The food I’m sure is still very tasty, and the wine list even better.

Somewhere equally appealing are the Gardens of Villandry, situated just 15 kilometres west of Tours, France.

I recently persuaded my wife and teenage son to call in on them enroute to the Dordogne. “Yes, OK”, was the response.”But, you are only allowed exactly one hour!” This may seem rather stingy on their part, but believe me these things take some negotiating!

My main interest were the potager, or kitchen gardens, as I’m currently involved in designing a scheme for one of my key clients. So this focus helped whittle down the tour.

We arrived at Villandry at 10am and it was already blisteringly hot. We paid for ‘Jardin’ at the entrance (€6 Adults, and €4.50 Youths). The Chateau looked equally enticing, but not this time!

Villandry is reputedly the last of the great Renaissance chateaux of the Loire to be built, in 1536. It was not a royal palace, but instead the seat of a royal minister, Jean Le Breton. Despite being a Finance Minister, Jean’s architectural expertise was incredible, and he was noted for his works, including the creation of Chambord, which he oversaw before he built Villandry.

As part of the scheme Jean conceived of a garden landscape that would blend the chateau into the surrounding Loire countryside.

The Chateau and grounds remained in the Le Breton family until 1754, when Villandry became the property of The Marquis de Castellane. He was the king’s ambassador, and he brought the castle up to date with modern 18th century standards of comfort and design.

In 1907 Villandry was purchased by a Spaniard, Joachim Carvallo. Carvallo and his American wife were scientists. The house and gardens had fallen into disrepair, so Carvallo set upon a complete programme of renovation. The Chateau was transformed, but it was the gardens that most of his energies and imagination went into.

These are vast, and truly magnificent.

Laid out over 5 hectares. Today they are looked after by a full-time team of nine gardeners.

Given the size and complexity of the gardens, careful planning and a rigorous timetable are required. This all sounds very familiar!

There are 7 distinct areas of the garden:

1. The Ornamental Garden

Stretches behind the Chateau, and features some incredible topairy depicting different takes on the theme of love. Unifying these gardens is the use of box hedging borders set to a Moorish theme, and sixty yew trees, all carefully shaped to a standard size and design ( I have the specification)!

Whilst we were visiting, we were treated to the gardening team out in force tweaking these designs.


Inside each shape are flowers. These are all planted in blocks of colour to enhance the dramatic pattern of this area. My guess is that this part of the garden was also used for cuttings, so at different times of the year plentiful supplies of fresh flowers were available to the household. Something to remember for a cuttings section to my own designs.

At the end of my ‘hour’ , I visited the garden shop and have purchased topairy ball guides, so will experiment as soon as we get home! I also managed to pick up a selection of seeds from the ornamental garden area, including Coquelicot ‘Rouge a Coeur Noir’.

2. The Woods

If you have the time, and the inclination to climb up into the adjoining woods you can gain some stunning views of the Chateau and Gardens. Also situated up there are the greenhouses.

3. The Water Garden

An ingenious watering system for the entire gardens eminates from a large ornamental pond on the upper terrace. This is shaped in the form of a Louis XV mirror. From this water cascades down a staircase of waterfalls into a moat which then distributes water into the planting areas below.

4. The Sun Garden

This is the most recent of the gardens, set on a plateau above the Water Garden. It features a series of herbaceous beds, set out in a formal pattern, but planted with varieties and allowed to grow in a more informal fashion.

Whilst we were visiting we bumped upon an artist recording the beauty of the gardens in oils. With his Van Gogh hat he seemed to be enjoying the mid morning sun.


Another artist who has recently had their sculptures added to this area of the garden is Marine d’Harcourt.

5. The Maze

Is planted with closely cropped hornbeam hedges. The correct pathway leads to a lookout post in the centre from where you can work out your safe retreat.
Probably easy to get out of in the winter!

6. The Herb Garden

Adjoining the Maze is the long, corridor like herb garden. This is the traditional garden of the Middle Ages full of aromatic, cooking and medicinal herbs.

7. The Kitchen, or Potager Garden

This is what we were here to see. And wow! What a display. I counted 9 areas, featuring different geometric patterns, set in a series of squares, all in one huge quadrant, with wide gravel avenues between them.

The designs depict Medieval crosses, all different. The structure of the potager gardens is created by using low closely cropped box hedging, that is in a constant process of clipping and replacement. Planted amongst these in symmetry are standard roses. These reputedly symbolise the monks who in Middle Ages would dig their squares.

Within the box borders a combination of flowers and vegetables are planted in concentrated bands of alternating colours, which together help create the magnificent vistas you can achieve by looking across the Potager Gardens.

To this day the Carvallo family are actively involved with the gardening team in the design and maintenance of this section. In the garden I could see bands of Chard, ornamental cabbages, beet root, tomatoes and pumpkins.

Time nearly up and a quick detour to the Garden Shop. This took 10 minutes, an all time record! Then out we rushed to the cafe to pick up a much needed diet cola.

One hour exactly. But what an hour!

You can see more about Villandry at www.chateauvillandry.com

For further information please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com

Visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens this April

Monday, March 17th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

It was interesting to watch on BBC’s Countryfile recently the feature about Vita Sackville-West and her upbringing at Knole. As the daughter she unfortunately didn’t inherit Knole but with her husband Harold in the 1930′s she went onto buy Sissinghurst Castle and began a transformation of the gardens. Harold mainly planned the garden structure, whilst Vita turned her attention to the planting schemes.

Today the house and grounds are looked after by The National Trust. It’s only a short drive (half an hour) from Tunbridge Wells, along the Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook.

The gardens are open from 11am – 5.30pm. The Castle and Grounds are surrounded by a working farm, ancient woodlands and parkland of c 450 acres. The house dates back to the Middle Ages. It was bought by Sir John Baker ( one of Henry V111′s Privy Councillors) in 1530, when it was greatly enlarged by him and his son.

The Castle and Gardens are well worth a visit and during April are bursting with colour.

A brilliant vantage point is to climb the Tower and see the structure and beauty of the garden, then plan your tour accordingly. You will see from the Tower that the garden is split up into a whole series of rooms, all with their own unique planting schemes.

The Lime Walk is among my favourites, but you must spend time in The White Garden. The White Garden was originally planted as a rose garden in 1931, but later altered in 1950. Vita referred to it as her grey, green and white garden. There is no escaping the brilliance of her focus, and the end result is a captivating space, that’s very romantic.

For a good lunch, nearby Biddenden is a picturesque Kentish Village with pleasant pubs. Alternatively stop off at Goudhurst on route. I’m reliably informed that The Vine, Goudhurst has just undergone a restoration and offers excellent fare. I must treat myself to a visit!

You can see more about Sissinghurst Castle and Grounds at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle

Further details about The Vine at Goudhurst can be found at www.thevinegoudhurst.com

For further information about Gardenproud please contact Tim Sykes, on 07725 173820,  or via email at info@reallygardenproud.com