I've just spent a wonderful couple of days staying at Gravetye Manor.  It is a fantastic hotel with a wonderful restaurant and the kind of friendly service where everything you want arrives before you even have to ask.  But of course, it was the garden that drew us there.  It had been recommended to me by some of the gardeners at Sissinghurst and then there was the lovely programme that Carol Klein made about it a few years ago.  Did you see it?  

My number one spot for this week therefore goes to the Flower Garden at Gravetye.  It was packed full of interesting plants - perennials, grasses, dahlias and annuals all beautifully combined.  There were little areas to sit out in dotted all over, but tucked away and cocooned by the planting.

I'm not a huge fan of grasses but this garden could make me change my mind.  Used delicately they added an airiness to the borders.

If you are wondering how the borders look so lush despite the heat, there was a lot of watering going on.

On our way to Gravetye, we stopped off at Old Bladbean Stud garden.  This had been featured on Gardeners' World this Spring.  I thought the garden, and in particular these 'Double Mirror Borders', looked fabulous.  I was also intrigued by the story of how the owner, Carol Bruce, had created them and now maintains them without any additional help.  So off we headed down some incredibly narrow Kentish lanes (thanks sat-nav) to see for ourselves.  It didn't disappoint.  

Since heat and garden watering are definitely top of the agenda this week, in contrast to Gravetye, Carol made the decision to not routinely water the plants, in a conscious effort she says to kill off anything not suited to the local conditions.

I have obelisk envy

Third spot goes to a favourite garden.  We would have dropped in on Sissinghurst anyway even if there had not been the 'new' Delos to see, because we love it so.  The 'old' Delos had been a bit underwhelming (and suffered from comparison with the other areas of the garden) even when at its seasonal height.  This is what it used to look like, with a carpet of anemones and spring bulbs.

This is it now, after its Dan Pearson makeover.  I'm not sure I really understand why it was necessary to make such a drastic intervention in an historic garden, but if it was going to look 'right' on any day, then one with temperatures of  35C was going to be it. 

If you kept looking down the illusion of a Greek island was maintained, but it seemed ill at ease with the Elizabethan brickwork unsoftened by any climbers or wall shrubs.

We managed to fit in another National Trust garden before we set off for home - Nymans.  We had visited once before on a Winters day so cold that the kids had begged us to take them into the house (which had never been known before or since as you can imagine).  Our return visit was in 39C.  It was almost too hot to walk around, and we soon found ourselves sat in the shade, not wanting to move.
It was these long borders planted which were traditionally planted with annuals, that I had come to see. The fountain at the centre point was a refreshing sight.

This part of the garden, simply planted with helenium and alchemila makes a lovely photograph I think, although in reality we only admired it from the shade of the surrounding trees.

For my fifth choice this week, it's back to Gravetye, this time to the vegetable garden.  It is a huge walled oval space, with fruit trees trained on the walls and beds of flowers grown to decorate the hotel and fruit and vegetables for the restaurant.  And there was lots and lots of lavender all covered with honey bees. When we walked into the garden we just stood in one place and stared, trying to take it all in.  It is impossible to capture the scale and beauty of the place in one photograph.  

I've left myself with one remaining place in this week's Six to allocate to my garden.  This is my greenhouse thermometer reading for Tuesday. 

It wasn't just the heat; the hot wind, felt alien and wrong.  As we arrived home a small fire was burning nearby.  It only needed one fire engine to tackle the blaze, but there were about ten police cars standing by to evacuate the village if it had taken hold.  Scary times.  We lost a few plants, and it has taken a few days for temperatures to return to more normal levels.  I hope you managed to cope with it all OK.  

That's all I have room for this week.  Thanks as always to The Propagator who kindly hosts Six on Saturday.


  1. Very much enjoyed your garden holiday items, and also the idea of allowing the plants that can't survive to wither away. I think this week has really tested us and our gardens.

    1. I didn't like to ask whether she had stuck to her guns this year with regard to the watering. I couldn't blame her if she'd got out the hose pipe.

  2. Thank you for the quick tours of the gardens. That's a huge relief regarding the fire - scary times indeed.

    1. I hope you and your garden managed to cope with the heat.

  3. Such lovely gardens and I, sadly, haven’t visited one of them. One day….

  4. Just catching up, your trip sounds fantastic and you certainly packed some great gardens in. What a coincidence as I recently visited Sissinghurst and wrote a post about Delos. Thanks for the photo of how it looked before the transformation, I wondered about that. I think we had similar thoughts re the discordancy of the Kentish architecture, though I really liked the garden as it did remind me of Greek island holidays! Here's a link to my post if you fancy a read, I didn't do it in the SOS format this time:


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