Our holiday cottages are surrounded by some of the countries finest gardens of East Sussex and Kent. Whatever month you choose to visit a garden there is something to delight the senses. January to March sees the first snowdrops and daffodils. April to May the various fruit trees blossom, bluebells carpet the woodland, the magnificent wisteria cascades down and there are thousands of tulips throughout the gardens. June is fragrant with roses and lavender while in July the scent of sweet peas and the heady fragrance of lilies begin to perfume the air. It is at its most bountiful in mid-summer. Summer bedding plants continue through August, then the hot borders come into their own with dahilas, cannas and asters amongst the many late flowering herbaceous perennials.
[frame type=”left” width=”250″ height=”192″ src=”http://1066countryholidays.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/great-dixter.jpg”]Great Dixter was the family home of Christopher Lloyd, who devoted his lifetime to creating one of the most experimental, exciting and constantly changing gardens of our time. Incorporating many medieval buildings, the gardens surround the house, each complementing the other.
There is a wide variety of interest from yew topiary, carpets of meadow flowers, the colourful tapestry of mixed borders (including the famous Long Border), natural ponds and the exuberant Exotic Garden.
Created during the early 1990s the beautiful gardens at Merriments have quickly developed into a stunningly beautiful 4 acres of densely planted borders where the plants grown in the nursery can be seen in a garden context with a truly remarkable depth of imagination.
There are several gardens all planted with a different themes. On entering the entrance garden it immediately strikes you as being excitingly different. Wander down and peep through the Yew circle to the new formal pottager beyond. Turning right from the entrance takes you through the hot borders where as summer progresses, the hotter the border! Other areas include the Golden Border, Blue Gravel Garden, the Ponds & Tropical Border and the wild area complete with bird hide.
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Every now and then you will spot an oast house and they are a reminder of why the county has been coined the Garden of England, a name given to it by King Henry VIII. By the early eighteenth century, there were 6,000 acres of hop gardens in East Kent alone giving the landscape a distinctive look. The oast houses, with their characteristic conical or pyramid shaped roofs, were designed to dry hops, historically a very important crop for Kent. By the 20th century, people travelled to Kent from London to go hop-picking, turning this seasonal work into their annual holiday.
While the garden moniker reflects the lush and fertile land of the county and its abundance of orchards full of fruit and blossom, and hop gardens, it also refers to the fact that Kent has some of the country’s most beautiful and important formal gardens.
[frame type=”right” width=”250″ height=”192″ src=”http://1066countryholidays.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ScotneyCastle_MoatBridge.jpg”]Possibly the best known is the garden at the National Trust’s Sissinghurst Castle Garden created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Set in the remains of a large Elizabethan house in the unspoilt Weald countryside near Cranbrook, the garden is divided into a series of ‘rooms’ filled with informal arrangements of plants all around a theme: the White Garden, the Purple Border, the Rose Garden, the Herb Garden, the Lime Walk, and the Cottage Garden. At Leeds Castle, the dramatic gardens of the 500-acres of parkland, which includes farms, woodlands, and a golf course are well worth a visit at any time of the year. The garden at Hever Castle, turned into spectacular gardens from marshland by Joseph Cheal & Son in 1908, was awarded the South East’s most romantic garden by Gardeners’ World. The Elizabethan gardens at Penshurst Place remain much the same as when they were constructed, and offer an abundance of variety in form, foliage and bloom year round, creating a stunning, vivid blaze of colour in the autumn.
One of England’s most romantic gardens is at Scotney Castle Lamberhurst, which boasts a magnificent display of rhododendrons, azaleas and kalmia, against the backdrop of the ruins of the 14th century moated castle. Be sure, too, not to miss the delightful Emmetts Garden near Sevenoaks, with its stunning rock garden, its charming rose garden and its unique collection of exotic shrubs.
If adventure is what you’re after, then you could ‘walk around the world in under 80 minutes’ at Lullingstone Castle near Sevenoaks, home to Tom Hart Dyke and his World Garden of Plants. Tom is a modern-day plant hunter and has literally risked life and limb in pursuit of rare and fantastic blooms and plants. As a result, you can see over 8,000 species here, from even the furthest corners of the world.
As you can see, there are plenty of gardens to choose from, so, whether you’re a keen gardener or simply a lover of nature, you will be sure to find inspiration, tranquility and discovery during your stay beside the sea.