King John’s Lodge – East Sussex

Every once in a while you come across a place with a timeless air about it – not flashy or cutting-edge, but with a calm, gracious look of antiquity and love about it that grabs your heart.  That’s King John’s Lodge in Etchingham. It’s plonk in the middle of East Sussex off the A21. The house is a Grade II listed Jacobean manor restored by the present owners and the garden opens regularly for the National Garden Scheme.  The garden with its rose walk, wild pond, meadow areas etc. is not full of ‘specimens’ – but has a lived-in, relaxed feel, with hundreds of cranesbills jostling...

Continue reading

Larch Cottage Nurseries – Penrith

If surprise and wonder are your shtick, take 13 minutes out of  your M6 journey north or south and get along to Larch Cottage Nurseries just south of Penrith. I know, it sounds disarmingly underwhelming, and believe me the little terraced cottage entrance compounds the deception, for you have in fact found the horticultural equivalent of J K Rowling’s Platform 12 and three-quarters. It was created by Peter Stott over three decades ago when he was unable to find more unusual plants for his landscaping business. His vision to create a unique visitor experience has, unequivocally, been met. The...

Continue reading

Highdown Garden – Worthing

Highdown Gardens isn’t your usual garden visit. When Sir Frederick Stern was looking for a safe curator for the eclectic range of plants he had successfully established in a chalk pit above Worthing on the Sussex Coast he eschewed what might have been the more natural choice of the National Trust (they must be spitting teeth), or even, given the uniqueness of his collection, Kew Gardens, and left the garden instead to the stalwart care of Worthing Borough Council. So essentially this rare botanical collection is really just a town park, which has both bonuses and drawbacks. It is...

Continue reading