Gardening - Vistas of Delight

PUBLISHED: 11:12 19 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:33 20 February 2013

Gardening - Vistas of Delight

Gardening - Vistas of Delight

The National Gardens Scheme offers a lovely, relaxed country garden to visit this month with far reaching views over Ashdown Forest. Leigh Clapp discovers more

Opening times
Perryhill Farmhouse, Hartfield
Sat 14th, Sun 15th August (2-5)
Adm 4, child free, home-made teas

How to find it
Perryhill Farmhouse
Hartfield TN7 4JP
is off the B2026 south of the A264 between East Grinstead and
Tunbridge Wells

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The National Gardens Scheme offers a lovely, relaxed country garden to visit this month with far reaching views over Ashdown Forest. Leigh Clapp discovers more

Diana and John Whitmore have created an atmospheric garden that spreads out in front of their picturesque 15th century hall house giving splendid panoramas across Hartfield and the surrounding Ashdown Forest. Unusually the gardens at Perryhill Farmhouse are entered across a pathway from the house, through a rustic gate, from where terraces and lawns step down with a series of different areas.
Planting is abundant with herbaceous and mixed borders, beds of dahlias, a formal rose garden and orchard. In August you are greeted with wafts of shimmering, translucent white cosmos contrasted with spires of Russian sage as you progress down through the garden. Continuing the colours are massed agapanthus in blues and white, edged in tumbling erigeron on the terraced beds. There are still roses giving their final flush of bloom and at the lower level sunny borders soften a small parterre near a Prunus serrula with its characteristic tactile trunk gleaming in the sun.
Clearly the palette is appropriate to the conditions, giving an air of informality and country charm. What you know looks good you tend to repeat, explains Diana. Some favourite plants include the reliable agapanthus and erigeron combination, cleome, cosmos and roses such as Just Joey and English Miss. Roles are clearly delineated in the garden. The roses and borders are Dianas domain, while John loves to grow dahlias in a designated bed, along with vegetables and fruit.
They both enjoy the spectacular views across the garden that can also be appreciated from the house. One of the most lovely things here are the sunsets, the view is absolutely gorgeous, says Diana. When I look out there is everything there, rustic rooftops of the farm buildings, the roses and flowers, and lots of wildlife. We do seem to have a terrific variety of birds, including a barn owl that lives in one of the outbuildings.
Opening their private idyll through the National Gardens Scheme is a natural extension for them. I like to share the garden. One cant have something so lovely and not share it. Visitors especially enjoy taking tea on the terrace, looking at the views with the lengthening afternoon and evening shadows, she says.

Plant of the month

Echinacea, coneflower

  • perennial with daisy-like flowers

  • pink or white flowers

  • flower, plant and root used in herbal remedies

  • each daisy up to 15cm across

  • long-flowering

Growing Notes

  • from dry prairies and open woodland

  • fully hardy

  • deep, fertile, well-drained soil

  • full sun but will tolerate some shade

  • easy care

  • plant in spring

  • cut back the stems after flowers fade for more blooms

  • take root cuttings late autumn

  • divide every 3 or 4 years in spring

Trimming and tasks

Cut back lavender once flowered, prune wisteria and formal evergreen hedges, tie in long shoots of rambling roses. Take cuttings of fuchsias, argyranthemums, salvia, pelargoniums and verbenas. Summer prune espaliered fruit trees. Cut back herbs to encourage second flush. Plant out winter veg.

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