Great gardens of Kent and Sussex
This little corner of England is spoilt for the number and quality of the gardens to visit in the area, so we have put together a little example tour for you to enjoy during your stay at Strand House.
Starting at Strand House, drive along the A259 to Rye and then take the A268 signposted Peasmarsh. The first garden you will come to is Christopher Lloyds iconic Great Dixter at Northiam a great place for ideas to use at home as it features modern planting on a small scale. Turing north along the A28 we come to Hole Park at Rolvenden which is a country house garden with woodland walks and a nice teashop and is close enough to Tenterden for a spot of shopping and lunch. Leaving this pretty little town, you go along the A262 to reach the NT Sissinghurst and its famous White Garden and you can go up the Tower but you need to check opening dates as these are restricted. Continuing along we come to our favourite garden at Marle Place near Lamberhurst which is a country house garden with a wonderful selection of specimen tree and small garden 'rooms' . Stop here for tea as they do wonderful cakes around a lovely little pond or in the barn if wet. From here it is only a short drive down the A21 to NT Scotney Castle which is really a Spring garden with its collection of rhododendrons and large ruined castle on an island to explore. A newly opened visitor centre also does teas and food and explains about the history of the house. On Sundays Finchcocks Musical Museum is open and features a wonderful collection of pianos and harpsichords, a country house and gardens to explore. Just off the A21 is the formal gardens at Pashley Manor which features a Tulip Festival in the Spring and a Rose Festival in the summer and is full of iconic art work and again is a good place to stop for tea. Following the A265 you come to NT Batemans which was the writer Rudyard Kiplings house and it is possible to visit, the garden, house and an old water mill at the bottom of the orchard where the sell flour that is milled on site. Not far from here is Sarah Raven's Garden and Cookery School at Perch Hill which is open about 4 days a year. Turning for home, you can visit Brede High Wood or Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard before driving along the B2089 Udimore Road back to Strand House. Of course there are other gardens a bit further away or off the beaten track such as Derek Jarman's garden at Dungerness, Groombridge Place, Penshurst Place, Sheffield Park and Mount Ephraim Gardens but then there is always tomorrow.
Feeling inspired then here is a short list of garden centres close to the route:
Harbourgh Nurseries – just down the road
Tenterden Garden Centre – large selection of plants and a good water centre
Bodiam Nursery – specialists in Acers
Merriments Garden Centre – has a garden to visit for planting ideas.
Blackbrooks Garden Centre – large