Gardening: the season finale

PUBLISHED: 16:31 25 September 2012 | UPDATED: 22:04 20 February 2013

Gardening: the season finale

Gardening: the season finale

Experience the mellowing tones of autumn with a visit to the gardens of Parham House, where the muted textural tapestry of perennials and grasses billow out onto the paths

Late-season perennials reach their crescendo of colour this month and one of the best places to see their potential is to wander the paths in the four-acre walled garden of Parham House in Storrington.

The Parham borders are designed to be particularly strong at the end of summer and in to the autumn, many of our herbaceous plantings have seed heads and forms which look superb with a touch of frost or in the autumn light.

Our vegetable and fruit growing areas are abundant with food in the autumn, particularly pumpkins, apples, parsnips, onion and cabbage, says head gardener Tom Brown about the scene that greets the visitor in late September and October. Cultivated for centuries the walled garden is run on organic principles and vibrant with colour over a long season. Dense plantings billow out of the borders in voluptuous swathes, the tapestry of texture and colour echoing the decorative embroidery in the house.

Flowers feature; both to remain in the borders, and for armfuls to be cut weekly for display in the house.

Parham House, home to Lady Emma Barnard and her family, was built in the 16th century and the gardens developed from the 1770s. Appropriately the walled garden retains an air of timelessness while still embracing contemporary ideals and progressive planting.

The mellow walls create a secret garden aura as you step through an imposing wrought-iron gate guarded by sentinel lions, to explore the intersecting earth pathways.

In October the garden and house are only open on Sundays and offer a lovely way to enjoy the crispness of an autumnal stroll, admiring the slanting light of the season as it picks out a russet leaf or backlights a golden bloom. Dahlias stand up flamboyantly against a meld of fiery crocosmias or dainty pastel asters as you progress along the borders. Fading seed heads of cynara add sculptural elements, while ornamental grasses tie the effect together. In addition to the herbaceous borders, there is a wonderful long greenhouse, resplendent with tender plants in arrays of containers or dangling from supports. Neat rows of succulents, collections of ferns and fuchsias, tropical bougainvillea and transparent abutilon blooms draw the eye. Take time also to wander the hedged vegetable garden and the orchard with both historic and modern fruit varieties.

This is a garden that continues to evolve while retaining its ethos and beauty. We are developing a naturalistic style rose garden using strong performing roses giving scent, a long flowering period and showing good disease resistance. We will be combining roses with herbaceous perennials and planting the space over the autumn period and next spring, ready for 2013, adds Tom about the latest project to look out for.

Need to know
Parham House and Gardens, Storrington, RH20 4HS
House and gardens open on Sundays in October.

Latest from the Sussex Life