Monthly Archives: June 2018

The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle

On Sunday Grayshott Gardeners met up with an old friend: Tom Hart Dyke, who last year visited us to talk about his plant-collecting adventures and the resulting World Garden project, stocked with non-native plants introduced to the UK by the great Victorian and Edwardian plant hunters.

A comfortable coach took us past lavender fields and via the adjacent Lullingstone Country Park to Lullingstone Castle, one of England’s oldest family estates dating back to Domesday times. The World Garden is situated in the midst of 120 acres of beautiful grounds, comprising a lake,  vast lawns (great for picnics!), a stream meandering through woodland, a genuine, albeit ruined, bath house nearby, and wild flower and orchid meadows populated by dragonflies and butterflies.

Fortunately, exploring the continents proved much less arduous than Tom H-D’s real- world exploits, yet offered plenty of interest and excitement at the sight of the sheer variety of trees, shrubs and other plants (totalling more than 10,000!) not native to the UK.  Most  colour was found in the European borders, while amazing shapes, height and hues were more evident in the southern hemisphere. Some very prickly specimens seemed to come with in-built corks to stop visitors being spiked!

Appropriate sculptures denoted each major region: the Greek Goddess Europa, a totem pole, a cobra, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and a pineapple in Brazil. Tracks through thickets and a hidden stream with wild piglets appealed to the Livingstone in some of us, whilst others were happy to retreat to one of the strategically placed seats before continuing their global discoveries in the Cloud Garden and the Hot and Spiky House.

Several members found their way to the tea and cake marquee, some with purchased plants, before embarking on a guided tour of the originally Tudor Castle and a fascinating tale of the Hart-Dyke family and its many royal guests. The church with some original stained glass windows also proved well-worth a visit.

Not surprising then that some of us nodded  off on the way home following this packed and interesting outing organised by Terry.

More information on the heritage and horticulture at Lullingstone Castle from


Gordon Rae’s flower photographs are amazing:

World Garden at Lullingstone Castle
« 1 of 22 »

From Seed to Plate: Paolo Arrigo

Red white and green marked the theme of Grayshott Gardeners June Club Night: visitors were greeted with a glass of wine and a sumptuous array of Italian nibbles (topped with flags), and entertained by authentic Italian accordion tunes even before Paolo started his talk proper. As promised, we were disabused of any preconceived ideas: the main seed companies in the uk do not produce seeds, most are imported from South East Asia. Wild fennel, growing along Hadian’s wall, is not native to Britain but was brought here by Roman Soldiers who were partial to the aniseed-flavoured seeds. Via the Boer War, two World Wars and their effect on food growing in the UK, we arrived at the present state of vegetable production and supply in this country, and the conclusion that fruit and vegetables taste best when eaten in season.

Paolo at the Eden Project

This was the cue for a Grand Tour of Italy’s regions, towns even, which are each linked with a particular food or variety of vegetable. Not really surprising, as Italy’s climate varies from the Alps in the North to a Mediterranean climate in the South, and has the Apennine mountains running along its spine. Tips for growing vegetables came hard and fast, and the description of food cooked with them was mouthwatering. The final summing-up was done in one word: local.

Lucky for us, Paolo who was assisted by his mother (as appropriate for the oldest family-run seed company in the world) had brought along a wide selection of Seeds from Italy; Brexit notwithstanding, Grayshott at least won’t be lacking in delicious fresh vegetables from Italy next year.

Catalogue of seeds and other products, as well as further information on Franchi Seeds and their distributors Seeds of Italy available on their website

Visit to Ramster Garden

(Click on photos to enlarge)

The destination for our May visit, Ramster Garden near Chiddingfold, kept open especially for our early evening visit, proved a delight to walk around, with its many areas and vistas, nearly always against a background of different coloured rhododendrons and azaleas.

The Japanese influence was evident from the bamboo clumps, the snowball hydrangea and the (very) prickly castor oil tree, the cranes sculpture in the ponds, and the Japanese Bridge, and was a speciality of Gauntletts, the nurseries who designed the original garden for Sir Henry Waechter in 1900.

Although quite compact, the different sections, including wild flower areas with numerous spotted orchids, the ponds, the bog garden with its spectacular flowering guneras and the (steep) woodland walk  gave the impression of a much larger garden.

The photo gallery on the Ramster website, is well worth viewing. The garden is open to the public in Spring (until 10th June) and Autumn only, with a Tea House and Plant Sales near the entrance.