Woolbeding Gardens

On Wednesday, Johanna Crawford, Senior Gardener and standing in for Head Gardener Paul Gallivan, entertained us with captivating images of Woolbeding Gardens, situated near Midhurst and presently owned by the  National Trust.

Jo conducting a Herbaceous Borders Maintenance Workshop, photo Emma Haines.

Jo’s gardening career started 8 years ago as a complete novice with a notice in the newsagent’s, an armful of gardening books, a fork and trowel. 8 years of practical experience alongside studying for professional qualifications paid off well, as her passion for heritage gardening at Woolbeding clearly shines through.

Originally mentioned in the Doomsday Book, Woolbeding’s 26 acres of gardens, including the Grade I listed house (privately rented) and Saxon church, are set within the “greenest valley and prettiest river”. The gardens match and enhance the setting, and, following a suggested path, visitors are led through various “rooms” each with their own colour (vegetable, fountain, herb, pool  garden), past follies and intriguing sculptures (in memory of ancient and monumental trees), ornamental  and architectural greenhouses and an orangery fronting the pool. A ”ruined abbey” and a river walk reveal more hidden features.

But the gardens, meticulously maintained in keeping with the original planting but with design tweaks to always offer something new to visitors, are the main attraction and a tribute to the 6 members of garden staff who, aided by a number of volunteers, keep the beds and borders, the climbers and greenhouse plants, including orchids, looking magnificent.

Jo chatting with our patron Gordon Rae

Well-worth a visit (April to September, Thursdays and Fridays only, booking required, 0344 800 1995). More information on https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolbeding-gardens

(Click on photos to enlarge)