Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day Two in England

We both virtually passed out at Motel Schmotel in Brighton, and slept like logs.  We did a little backtracking, because I really wanted to visit Dedman's, which is a garden center in West Sussex that was begun by garden designer/author John Brookes.  To call this place a "garden center" is a little like calling Sissinghurst "a suburban garden."

I discovered that Dedman's is one of many garden centers in Southern England which educate the consumers with lots of display gardens comprised of plants that they also sell.  Throughout this multi-acre location, there are about 25 display gardens, all the size of a fairly small city lot, but giving great ideas of what is possible in a fairly small space. 

At Dedman's, as well as in many places we visited, there seems to be an endless selection of dahlias available.  These were very striking, largely because of the contrast between the blossom and foliage.
Another design note that was striking was the repetition of one particular blue (more about that later) on virtually everything on the property that was painted.  It made for a beautiful continuity, and the contrast with some of the foliage plants was particularly beautiful, as in the photo below.
My "zone envy" started to kick in when I realized the huge benefit English gardeners have by not having blistering hot summers.  My Annabelles at home look dry and crispy; in England they were still lush looking when the Japanese anemones came into bloom.
After buying a couple of garden ornaments (without regard to the adventure I'd have mailing them a few days later), we were off to Merriments, another garden center in the "blow your socks off" category, over in Etchingham, West Sussex.  Again, consider that this place is a retail shop....oh, if only we had something like this in Atlanta.....
Verbena bonariensis has never looked so good.......

After a great lunch in the cafe there (people who say English food isn't good just don't know where to go), we started the short trek to Royal Tunbridge Wells, the small city in Kent where we would be based for the next three nights.  On the way, there was a private garden opened for the National Garden Scheme, so we thought we might stop by to see a "modest" garden.  Little did we know that Fairlight Hall is certainly not "modest" by any means.

If you are thinking about a trip to England, you definitely need to buy The Yellow Book, which is the guide designed by the National Gardens Scheme every year.  It is an incredible program to benefit charities, with private gardens open on various dates, to benefit any number of charities. for more info.

As we approached Fairlight Hall, our first view of the house made it clear this was not a modest home.  As you look at these, though, keep in mind that the garden is less than ten years old.
Here is one corner of the walled garden....
The view from the front door, below.
Needless to say, we stopped for a few minutes for tea and was, after all, for charity....


  1. all are lovely....that last one is breathtaking.

  2. My heart is missing a beat, as I get to see these grand pictures of 'home'....
    Such wonderful gardens, enchanting paths, and exquisite historical Hall.
    Topping it off with a pot of tea and fresh scones, just splendid !

  3. Thanks for the great post! The gardens at Fairlight Hall look fantastic.