Sunday 16 September 2012

Gravetye Manor

On Thursday I didn't do so much in the garden because I was lucky enough to join a visit to Gravetye Manor. There has been a week long symposium at Dixter where gardeners can come and get exclusive gardening tuition. As part of it they go and visit other gardens of interest nearby and this was one of them.

Gravetye is like a hidden secret - it is the garden of William Robinson who was a writer, gardener & botanist from 1838 - 1953 and was very influential in the history of British gardens. It is now a luxurious hotel & restaurant.

He inspired people to bring back 'nature' and naturalise wild flowers and plants into their gardens and he is renowned for his work 'The Wild Garden'. Interestingly enough Daisy Lloyd who started the gardens at Dixter was hugely inspired by his work & this book. And Tom Coward who is now the talented head gardener of Gravetye used to work at Dixter.

There was a stepping in time feel about the place - the manor building itself is from Elizabethan times, but it was as if the sceneries themselves were one of the beautiful prints lifted straight out of Robinson's book from the late 1800s.

The garden also has an ingenious kitchen garden that drains frost & works like a greenhouse but outdoors, an old watercress bank, Victorian cold frames & greenhouses, a sister pond to Monet's water garden in Giverny and much more. Tom is sensitively restoring all aspects of the garden as it has seen a bit of neglect over the years, but it also has the dreamy opportunity for creativity and new innovations too.

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