WP_20150512_14_16_43_ProAnother trip out and another chance to visit some interesting and inspiring gardens last week. We travelled to see friends in Sussex and our lunch time stop was Knole near Sevenoaks, Kent, a large estate still owned by the Sackville family (of Vita fame) and part run by the National Trust. We were very lucky because we tipped up on a Tuesday, when the private Sackville gardens are open to the public, and we availed ourselves of a very engaging guided tour…

Beginning in the classical orangery, the tour wound its way around a fascinating garden, with some highlights to savour; the longest Wisteria on a wall outside China; the longest ‘Green Alley’ circumnavigating the walls of the garden; a champion fastigiate Oak tree and some wonderful azaleas with eye popping colour.

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The house- a splendid mix of architectural styles- is undergoing some major alterations, but the grounds and gardens are breathtaking. Wikipedia describes the estate:

‘a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) park, within which the house is situated. Knole is one of England’s largest houses, the National Trust attribute a possibility of its having at some point been a calendar house which had 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. Its grade I listing reflects its mix of Elizabethan to late Stuart structures, particularly in the case of the central façade and state rooms. The surrounding deer park has also survived with little having changed in the 400 years since 1600 although its formerly dense woodland has not fully recovered from the loss of over 70% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987….

As a walled garden, Knole’s is very large, at 26 acres (11 ha) (30 including the ‘footprint’ of the house) and as such is large enough to have the very unusual — and essentially medieval feature of a smaller walled garden inside itself (Hortus Conclusus). It contains many other features from earlier ages which have been wiped away in most country-house gardens: like the house, various landscapers have been employed to elaborate the design of its large gardens with distinctive features. These features include clair-voies, a patte d’oie, two avenues, and bosquet hedges.

WP_20150512_14_46_18_Pro Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener