Category Archives: GG Visits

Visit to Dipley Mill

On a rather cold and wet evening we were fortunate to visit a wonderful garden in Dipley,
Hartley Wintney. We were met by Rose McMonigall who is an award-winning Garden Designer. She is in the final phase of designing a garden for the Spanish Tourist Office for Hampton Court flower Show.

Rose gave us a potted history of the Mill, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the over-grown, almost non-existent gardens that she took over in 2000. We were shown around the various garden ‘rooms’ which include many specialist and unusual plants and trees. Now there are eighteen various gardens each one totally different in design and colour scheme.

There is a large Dove Cote that was unfortunately cleared out by minks that are a problem on the Whitewater River. The Dove Cote is now occupied by bees and they have been left alone by the mink! Rose’s father demonstrated how their sluice gates work to maintain the water level and prevent flooding to the house.

The gardens can be visited on special open days shown on their website and in the Yellow Book. Well worth a visit, especially on a warm, sunny day!


Millais Nurseries visit

Millais Nurseries visit (David Millais in black)

Millais Nurseries, situated in a lovely quiet setting near Churt, specialise in Rhododendrons, growing and supplying more than 800 varieties of Rhododendrons, as well as Camellias and Azaleas. The Millais family boasts a long-standing interest in Rhododendrons, going back to the early decades of the last century, but the plant nurseries were established in 1970. They have grown into what today is a thoroughly modern and impressive setup, with business conducted largely online.

A sizable group of Grayshott Gardeners were lucky to visit their colourful Plant Centre and extensive Nurseries on Wednesday. Owner David Millais and Dan, a member of his team, each headed one half of the group, taking us round the propagating tunnels with their fully-automated systems for heating, watering and ventilating the thousands of healthy-looking cuttings. It takes three years for a cutting to be turned into a rhododendron ready for sale.

Millais Nurseries generate most of their environmentally-friendly compost with the aid of a gigantic machine, which shreds and mixes a variety of plant materials into a mixture of currently 45% peat-free compost, which then gets measured out into pots, still by the same machine. There is even a machine for cleaning plant pots, based on the design of a mechanical car-wash!

A special treat was the walk around the woodland garden, full of mature rhododendrons and azaleas, flowering in many different colours and shapes. A particular striking example was a large yellow-flowering Camellia called Lois. The woodland garden is closed to the public this year for redevelopment, but is well-worth bearing in mind for a visit in May 2020.

Throughout the tour David commented and explained the different processes for propagating and growing rhododendrons, which come in a great variety of colours and sizes, and offered many useful tips for pruning and looking after these plants in our gardens.

On our way back to the Plant Centre we passed an area sheltered from the sun behind some sheeting in order to postpone their flowering. This contained plants being grown for the Chelsea Show towards the end of May. Millais Nurseries hope for a repeat of their 2016 success in gaining a Gold Medal.


For more information, including opening times and directions, please refer to the Millais Nurseries website and remember to take your membership card for a discount to Grayshott Gardeners when visiting!

Snowdrops Display Visit

Gordon and Judith Rae’s garden is perfect for showing off snowdrops: many are planted in terraces, which are at waist height, so no going down on one’s knees.  There were clumps of snowdrops everywhere, too many to count but we will take Gordon’s word for it that there were at least 150 different varieties, all clearly labelled.

A small part of the garden

The snowdrops were at their best, and a walk crisscrossing the large garden perfectly illustrated the different shapes, sizes and colour marks among the species. Interspersed between the bulbs were beautiful hellebores and small, colourful cyclamen, all set against “50 shades of green”.

Advice from the Expert!

Gill and Liz were amongst the helpers providing tea and biscuits, which also offered an opportunity to admire the capsule exhibition of specimen snowdrops, and to catch up with the many other Grayshott Gardeners members and visitors.

Hot drinks and biscuits!

This visit had been postponed from early February, due to snow, but proved well worth the wait.

Thank you Gordon and Judith!  (photos John Price)

Sussex Prairie Garden Visit

The A272 runs through some of the most beautiful and historical landscapes in the country, the only road which has a book written about it (A272 – An Ode to a Road by Pieter Boogaart). Lucky for Grayshott Gardeners then, that the destination on this sunny September Sunday was Sussex Prairie Garden in East Sussex.

Inspired by Piet Oudolf,  owners Paul and Pauline McBride designed their eight acres garden as a series of interlocking areas of large planted borders in a naturalistic style, with tracks through the plantings for visitors to get up close to the flowers, shrubs and grasses. The Prairie Garden  was planted in May 2008 in the shape of a nautilus shell, which allows for contrasting leaf forms, stems, stalks, flower shapes and textures. The colours, at their best in late summer, are muted and harmonise beautifully together.

This was a rare opportunity to view a garden in a style which, as suggested on Gardeners Question Time recently, only requires two days of maintenance a year – one to add compost for feeding the plants, and another to scythe off the flower heads.  Yet it still manages to look beautiful, as the pictures show.

A range of ‘prairie plants’  were available from the nursery,  and an added  bonus was the sale of rare plants held on this day, making for a greater number of visitors than is normally the case.

Sussex Prairie Garden is affiliated to RHS – additional information can be found on their website

Tilford Cottage Garden Visit

Dozens of Grayshott Gardeners turned up to visit this delightful garden owned by Rod Burn and his wife Pamela on Wednesday evening, and, after a brief introduction by Rod, went on to explore the many different “rooms” and vistas. Rod professes to be “and artist, not an gardener”, and there are indeed many enchanting and captivating creations catching a visitor’s imagination as they wander in and out of the herb garden, knot garden, Japanese garden, the floral area, and wider afield down to the river.

His professional skills as an engineer are evident from the quirky tree house and other constructions in wood and metal (actually, chicken wire) and even plants: sculpted hedges and surprises abound, and the cloud topiary is truly a marvel. It doesn’t stop there:  paintings and the brilliant colours of his fused glass art are exhibited in the studio and around the workshop.

Words and a few photos cannot do justice to all that this garden offers; fortunately, Rod and Pamela open their garden to visitors under the National Open Garden Scheme  for anyone who missed this visit, or would like to repeat it. More information can also be found at

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
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Guided Tour round RHS Wisley Garden

Despite the threat of showers, a large group of Grayshott Gardeners took up the offer of a guided tour around Wisley Garden, no doubt primed by Director General Sue Biggs’ lecture back  in March.

View towards the Lab in Spring at RHS Garden Wisley.

We were given a brief reminder of the origins and history of Wisley, with a view of the picturesque offices and lab building (as well as the as yet unfinished Welcome construction), after which our guide led us round the different parts of the garden, pointing out special trees and plants. An explanation of the different labels was especially helpful: a Champion plant or tree e.g. signifies the best specimen in the country. The tour led us along the Jellicoe Canal to the Rock Garden, the Rose Garden, the Bonsai Walk, and a series of inspirational Model Gardens. At the end of the tour there were still many unexplored parts of Wisley left; a number of members took advantage of the well-judged timing of the visit to look around the remaining parts of the garden, including the glasshouses, in the afternoon.

Greyfriars Vineyard visit

Twelve brave souls turned up for our visit to Greyfriars Vineyard in pouring rain and a freezing cold wind. But what a successful day. We were greeted by the owner Mike Wagstaff in his shirt sleeves while we were all dressed for winter conditions. He presented us with a glass of his prize winning sparkling wine. It had recently won a blind tasting event against Champagne. That nearly made up for the weather.

(Photo courtesy of Greyfriars Vineyard)

Mike gave us a very interesting talk about the history of wine production in the UK and told us all about Greyfriars wines. We were given details of how the sparkling wine was produced and were shown the enormous vats where the wine was made.

We declined a visit around the vineyard to see the grapes but instead saw the storage area that was in a cave that had been cut into the Hoggs Back.

Surrounded by bottles of wine Mike gave us a chance to taste the various sparkling wines that they produce both white and rose. It was interesting to note that the group all had different views about what they liked best.

If you are looking for something sparkling and special for Christmas why not give them a call as I’m sure you will not be disappointed with the quality of their wine, and it is much cheaper than the French equivalent. Details at

Terry Boorman




Hortus Loci plant nursery and West Green Gardens visit

Agapanthus polytunnel

Some twenty Grayshott Gardeners members braved the rain on Wednesday for a not-to-be missed opportunity to visit Hortus Loci, a top ranking plant nursery and wholesaler to landscape architects and garden designers.  We were lucky to be shown round their 17-acre site by Sales Director Robin Wallis, who spent his entire working life in nursery and garden centre management and generously shared his experience  and enthousiasm with us, pointing out characteristics of plants, how to treat them, which ones combine well with others etc.  Hortus Loci sources, grows  and  supplies plants for major shows such as Chelsea, and we enjoyed various tales of how they go to great lengths to fulfil almost any seemingly impossible  request.

After a break for hot drinks or lunch from the artisan coffee shop en kitchen there  was enough time left for browsing the large retail plant selection and bagging a bargain or two, before setting off for the nearby West Green House Gardens.

West Green House Gardens

This is a National Trust property, with interesting, well-maintained gardens ranging from extensive lawns round a large pond to a series of garden “rooms” close to the house, forming a beautiful setting for events such as weddings and opera performances. Well worth a return visit when the sun shines!

Seale Rose Nursery

“Graham Thomas”

On Wednesday a group of some twenty Grayshott Gardeners received a warm welcome from David and Catherine May, whose Seale Nurseries have been in their family since 1948. David showed us the compost making and potting machinery, followed by an expert demonstration of how to bud graft a rose.

Bud-grafting a rose



Catherine treated us to hot and cold drinks with home-baked biscuits, then left us to wander and admire the many varieties of roses, while David was on hand with advice.


Seale Rose Nursery is beautifully situated against the background of the Surrey hills landscape and our visit on a warm and sunny evening, with the fragrance of roses in the air, proved truly inspiring. Seale Nurseries are open Tue to Sat, 10 – 4 (Tel: 01252 782410)