Early Spring Gardens
by Geoff Stonebanks
Geoff Stonebanks reports on six of the National Garden Scheme gardens preparing to open for you in February and March to see their dazzling displays of snowdrops, hellebores and daffodils
Open by arrangement, Monday to Friday, 11th-27th February and 7th- 15th March, all dates mornings only. Groups up to 30 welcome as are pre-booked individuals. Entry £9 inclusive of home-made teas. This is a country garden full of snowdrops and hellebores, tidy but not manicured. Winding paths offer a choice of walks through two acres giving views to the South Downs National Park. Wellies, macs and winter woollies advised.
Ditchling Road, Clayton, BN6 9PH.
Tel: 01273 842805
5 WHITEMANS CLOSE
A pre-booked only garden visit for snowdrop and plant lovers on 15th and 18th February. Groups of up to 20, with individuals welcome too. This is a relatively small cottage garden with a large snowdrop collection.
Cuckfield, Haywards Heath RH17 5DE.
Tel: 01444 473520
THE OLD VICARAGE
A garden of quality and character where attention to detail is key. Snowdrops flourish and there are copious points of interest: the Italianate gazebo with green oak columns and lead roof, Japanese garden, waterfall and pond, the copse, treehouse and stumpery. Whatever the weather, there is a refreshment haven in the conservatory. Sunday 17th February and Sunday 24th March, 10.30-4.00. Entry £6.
The Street, Washington RH20 4AS.
Tel: 07766 761926
KING JOHNS LODGE
A four acre romantic garden for all seasons. Stroll from the eclectic shop and nursery, past wildlife pond through an orchard with bulbs. The house has a broad lawn, fountain, pond, and ha-ha. Explore the secret woodland with renovated pond, and admire majestic trees and four acres of meadow. Open on Sunday 24th March from 11.00- 4.00, entry £5. Refreshments and lunches in the tea room.
Sheepstreet Lane, Etchingham TN19 7AZ
THE GARDEN HOUSE
Open Friday 8th March from 11.30- 3.30. Groups of 10 to 30 can arrange visits at other times too. Entry is £5. Enjoy hot soup and bread, mulled cider and home-made teas. This is a secret garden tucked away in the heart of the city. Organically grown fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, roses, shrubs and trees give year-round interest making this a peaceful oasis. Garden produce and plants for sale.
5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT.
Tel: 07729 037182
A one acre garden in a lovely rural setting with views of the South Downs. Pretty in spring with daffodils, hellebores and primroses. Mainly herbaceous with rainbow border, small pond and Cornish inspired beach corners. Open on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st March from 2.00-5.00. Entry is £3.50. Home-made teas. Visits by arrangement too.
36 Butlers Lane, Herstmonceux, BN27 1QH.
Tel: 01323 833770
PHOTOS: Nick Baker, Judi Lyon, Harry Cunningham