What to do on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in June? Well last week I took myself off to visit the Open Garden at Fittleworth House, Fittleworth, Pulborough, West Sussex. This large country house on the edge of a small village has been opening its garden under the National Open Gardens Scheme for several years but despite it being very close to my home, this is the first time I have visited properly. I say ‘properly’ because I have actually been there once before several years ago during the annual Fittleworth Village Open Gardens event, but to my shame I don’t really remember it very well.
On arrival and after parking in the small paddock I was greeted by a very pleasant young man who took my entry money and explained about the gardens, drew my attention to a series of photographs of the gardens at different times of year taken by the Head Gardener and also the plants for sale, after which I duly trotted off on my tour.
Through a wooden gate in the long wall which lines the driveway and I was confronted by a Yew Arch in front and to my right (leading to the formal gardens at the front of the house) and vegetable beds to my left. The first of which contained Asparagus with incredible Nordic folklore sounding names including Grolim, Backlim, Thelim and Gijnlim! Next to these was what appeared to be an empty bed containing two large exotic onion shaped plant supports.
Onion shaped plant support
Ambling along through the walled garden produce beds and a grass path gives access to a stunning long border. Bisecting the produce gardens to either side; this is border is densely planted with all manner of traditional English Country Garden plants such as Delphinium, Lupin, Iris to mention but a few. A veritable sea of blue and green to feast the eye upon.
View down the Long Border towards the road
Lovely Lupins in the Long Border
More lovely Lupins from the Long Border
Pretty blue Iris in the Long Border
Walking round the Walled Garden I came across to “old hands” in the gardening world – Percy Thrower and Alan Titchmarsh, well Sweet Pea plants named after them anyway! Speaking of Sweet Peas, even my own namesake has found a place…
Sweet Pea “Jilly” (although I spell my name with a G!)
Back down the Long Border and through the Yew Arch and the visitor will find himself in front of a spectacular ornamental fountain with pretty planted borders and seating for calm contemplation. A glance up the gently sloping lawns and the house itself is in full view.
Frontage of Fittleworth House
Crossing the lower lawn of this beautiful Georgian, wisteria clothed house, I followed a path through a gate in a side wall into a wooded area with showy Rhododendrons and Azaleas in full bloom. Down the slope into the glass house area and a set of cold frames with the new bedding plants were on show.
Marigolds ready for planting
As well as the cold frames and a large greenhouse, this area also provides refreshments and the opportunity to browse through photograph albums belonging to the head gardener who is also a keen and talented photographer, Mark Saunders (www.marksaunders66.com). I recommend a look at his website, some of his photos are stunning!
Back again in the Long Border and Kitchen Garden I took a stroll all around the perimeter taking in the tranquility, bird song and soothing sunshine of early June.
All in all a very pleasant hour or so spent in peaceful (even with so many other visitors) surroundings.