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Gardening - Leigh Clapp offers tips, techniques and ideas for places to visit

PUBLISHED: 12:47 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 20 February 2013

Gardening - Leigh Clapp offers tips, techniques and ideas for places to visit

Gardening - Leigh Clapp offers tips, techniques and ideas for places to visit

The National Gardens Scheme gives us the opportunity to see gardens that are not normally open to the public. Leigh Clapp tells us about a real gem to be enjoyed this spring at Aldsworth House in West Sussex

A SENSE of history pervades the gardens at Aldsworth House, with successive generations adding their mark since the late eighteenth century. The present owners, Tom and Sarah Williams, inherited the house in 1994 and have enthusiastically taken the
six-acre Victorian garden into the modern day, while retaining its traditional charm.

Toms grandfather, Mr Yeo, who purchased the house in 1918, was an enthusiastic gardener and much of the framework of the garden was laid down from that time. With two full-time gardeners, extensive vegetable and flower gardens supported a household of 12 people until the Second World War.

To get a glimpse of how the garden looked in the 1930s the Williams play a short film for visitors in the tearoom and also display some old family photos in the garden. As self-confessed plantaholics, Tom and Sarah have planted borders, reinstated vegetable and fruit areas, developed an arboretum and added to the carpets of spring bulbs that have naturalised over the years. We add a couple of thousand bulbs each year, including tulips and chionodoxa, as well as increasing our stock of hellebores for spring, explains Sarah.

In March, visitors through the National Gardens Scheme enjoy the views, emerging foliage and sparkling crocus and daffodils. Structure is provided by pergolas, evergreen hedges, architectural plants and the walls that enclose sheltered areas for more tender plants. Later there will be a succession of interest from bluebell carpets, peonies, clematis and roses.

Opening times

Aldsworth House, Aldsworth
Sun 7, Wed 10 March (11-5)
Sun 30 May (11-5), Wed 2 June (11-5)
Light refreshments
The National Gardens Scheme

How to find it
Aldsworth House is about seven miles by road to the west of Chichester, off the B2146.

Spring into life

Time to get out into the garden, prepare the soil, clean and tidy up. Pull out weeds as they come back into growth. Continue deadheading bedding plants, such as polyanthus and pansies to continue their display. If the weather is mild, lawns will need their first light cut. Raise the blades to the highest setting. Deadhead the flowers of daffodils and other spring bulbs as they finish flowering but leave the foliage to die down naturally to ensure good flowering next spring.


If the soil is warm, start sowing outside. Your garden centre will have a large range of seeds now at the start of the vegetable growing time. Sow peas, broad beans, leeks, spinach, salad onions, cabbages, cauliflowers and lettuce. In mild areas, plant early potatoes in a sheltered spot or container. Try some edible flowers as well, such as nasturtiums or pot marigolds. Good as companion plants as well as tasty for us.

Flower power

Plant summer-flowering corms and bulbs, such as the ever-popular dahlias and gladioli that are hip again. Plant in well-draining soil to prevent bulbs rotting. Grow in full sun. Can be left in the ground in mild areas after flowering, cover with dry mulch over winter. Tall varieties will need staking.


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