This was our second trip as a group to Broadview Gardens, Hadlow College. We originally visited way back in February on what must have been one of the coldest days of the winter prior to the beast from the East descending on us. The gardens were bare and bleak. Ian Fleming, the head gardener, described his visions for the summer with such passion and enthusiasm, it seemed only fair to come back and judge for ourselves. Hence our visit this August.
After meeting for coffee, we retraced our steps. We were struck immediately by the fullness of the first border, leading onto the tropical garden. Nature is astonishing - it just regrows every year while we are not looking. The banana trees in the "hot" garden that were pruned and wrapped up tight in February had grown to a truly tropical height, along with jungle style shrubs of orange and purple whose names escape me. It all looked very lush and well cared for, but as we progressed along the lawn, the hot and dry conditions of summer 2018 had taken their toll. The borders must have looked good when the aliums were at their peak but now they flopped onto the flower beds like so many abandoned tennis balls. The bamboo garden fared a little better as the variety of grasses and rampant verbena hadn't suffered quite so much. A large bed of extraordinary pumpkins and gourds was doing well, although these seemed rather early. Penny Tomlin did her usual brilliant job of identifying trees and shrubs and Diana Brown rattled off the latin names of
many flowering plants with ease. Clever girls! We were able to walk through a narrow woodland path alongside the little lake which hitherto had been boggy and unpassable. We admired the tree ferns in the fernery and peeked at the "work in progress" at the Japanese Garden. It was interesting to see the dogwood varieties in full leaf and to know that in winter they will transform to the stunning reds, yellows and purple stems that we witnessed in February. Much work needs to be done to keep up with a garden of this size and scope. Presumably once the students leave at the end of the summer term, it becomes largely abandoned. But there was a certain charm in the untidiness - perhaps it reminded us of the challenge of our own gardens as we headed off for lunch and a good natter!
September 10th: Hever Castle Gardens. The plan is to visit the formal gardens in the morning, have lunch and then walk around the Lake in the afternoon. This will give us a mix of both the cultivated and natural sides of this stunning location. There is a fee for those of you without membership of around £12.50 for the gardens which is partly why I am planning a longish visit to give you value for money.
The gardens open at 10.30 so we will met at 10.45 for coffee at the restaurant down the hill from the top main entrance.
We will then walk through the Italian and Rose Gardens and around to the dahlia walk alongside the open air theatre. Then lunch in one of the two restaurants followed by a slow walk around the top lake from about 2 pm. for an hour and a half approx.
October 10th: Knole Park. Autumn colours morning walk around Knole Park. Meet at the White Hart pub and take a circular walk through Knole returning to the pub for refreshments.
November 9th: Funghi Walk. With "expert" from Sevenoaks Wildfowl Trust.
Happy Days! Briar