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Coach Outing to two Surrey gardens, Vann and Saffron Gate
14 April, 2016
On this year’s first Summer outing, before we had even crossed the threshold of Vann garden, near Godalming, we were greeted by a breath-taking array of fritillaries. What lay beyond the garden gate was equally impressive. The spirit of Gertrude Jekyll, who had been instrumental in its design and planting, still pervaded the garden. This was reflected in the old brick paths and relaxed planting around the pond, with self-seeding cowslips and a whole panoply of spring bulbs in profusion. The owner’s comprehensive introduction included the history and development of the delightful 16th century house.
At Saffron Gate, near Cranleigh, we were more likely to remember the selection of cakes than the planting. Later in the year, the 120 clematis in flower should be well-worth seeing.
3 Oxfordshire gardens, Greyhounds, The Lodge and Lime Close
18 May, 2016
We visited three town gardens in Burford. Each of them was a visual delight and set in peaceful surroundings although situated in the centre of this bustling town. We received a warm welcome from all our kind hosts who took trouble to show us around, to point out plants of particular interest and to explain each garden’s history. Everything was enhanced by the glorious Cotswold stone. We were invited to see the ground floor of two of the elegantly furnished houses and two of the gardens afforded glorious views over the surrounding countryside. A memorable morning!
In the owner’s absence, the head gardener at ‘The Lime Close’ at Drayton was our guide. This garden has many things to offer in terms of shrubs, perennials, herbs and bulbs, including an amazing display of flag irises. But the outstanding feature was the extensive collection of rare trees, some dating over a century. Reading Gardeners were completely undeterred by the onset of a steady downpour of rain and showed their determination to see everything on offer.
2 Wiltshire gardens, Ordnance House and Chisenbury Priory
2 June, 2016
There was much of interest in this beautifully restful garden of 5 acres. The perfectly mown lawns in the walled front garden were surrounded by borders of purple flowered alliums which created a bright welcome on a rather overcast day. There were no end of delights as we wandered through a beautiful pergola, past a lake and into a vast meadow area with mown paths through buttercups and patches of dark blue camassia. We greatly appreciated the owner being on hand to answer questions. There was so much to see that many of us would have been happy to linger longer.
Created from solid chalk with much back breaking work from August 2011 this garden was very thoughtfully planned and planted. We welcomed a talk from the owner about the history of the property. The curved beds, box balls and topiary gave structure to many informal plantings of a glorious mixture of spring plants such as Hesperis, white Alliums and Iris. Masses of lavender plants provided a more formal element. The raised vegetable beds were a very neat. The land having been used in the past to store ordnance for the Royal Navy brought to mind the saying ‘All shipshape and Bristol fashion’ which was mirrored in the garden. To create such attractive plantings in under half an acre from nothing in such a relatively short time is a very impressive achievement and it would be interesting to visit again in a few years’ time.
Two Kentish gardens, Long Barn & Sissinghurst
18 June, 2016
This memorable outing embraced the two significant Kentish gardens created by Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West – Long Barn and Sissinghurst. Long Barn’s present owner described for us the history of the house and garden before we strolled at will throughout the lovely garden. At both gardens, the original impressive structures have been maintained and enhanced with a profusion of rich, meticulously maintained planting. June proved again to be a particularly rewarding time for garden visiting and the weather was kind to us throughout. The highlight was probably the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst but others may well have preferred other delights. The outing organisers had said in advance: – “This will be a long day out and well worth it we think”. How right they were!
Farley Hill Place, Church Road, Farley Hill RG7 1T2
20 July, 2016
Farley Hill Place for Members’ Summer Social and Plant Fair. By kind permission of Tony & Margaret Finch. Margaret is the Main Organiser for Air Ambulance and is also a florist. A 4 acre cottage garden which includes a 1.5 acre walled garden containing well stocked herbaceous borders, large productive vegetable area, dahlia and cutting flower beds and a recently renovated Victorian glass house. Tea and cake included
Malverleys, Fullers Lane, East End, Newbury RG20 0AA (Near East Woodhay)
24 July, 2016
How: Car | Cost:£10 | Booking: Booking Form
An NGS opening but admittance is by ticket only. We have purchased 20 tickets and these have to be paid for in advance. Members only initially. Open 2 to 5p.m. A 10 acre garden in the grand manner with many separated gardens including a sunken Italian garden, white garden, large vegetable garden with central greenhouse. Newly designed front terrace with emphasis on self-seeding plants, herbaceous borders and many decorative pots and statues. Ticket price includes tea and cake.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Church Road, Great Milton, OX44 7PD
10 August, 2016
How: Car | Cost:£30 | Booking: Booking Form
10.00am group visit by private cars for a maximum of 16 people. This includes coffee and a guided tour of the gardens.
NB: This is a suggested date and we are keen to know in advance whether any members and their friends are interested in this very exclusive/expensive outing! Please e-mail or phone us to discuss further.
Dunsborough Park and RHS Wisley
14 September, 2016
The undoubted highlight of our visit to Dunsborough Park was the glorious display of well grown dahlias, which provided a kaleidoscopic range of colours. We also admired the carefully crafted landscaped areas, including a series of descending ponds. We were guided by a well-informed gardener, originally from Ukraine.
As at any time of the year, RHS Wisley had much to offer –surely one of the great British gardens. The twin mixed borders were a particular attraction with many plants of late Summer and early Autumn flowering in profusion. The rose garden was also well worth visiting, with many bushes in full bloom. Some of us were enticed by the wide spectrum of plants for sale in the Plant Centre.
This was a fitting end to what had been another excellent programme of Summer garden visiting by Reading Gardeners.
Coach visit to Two Northamptonshire Gardens.
11 May, 2017
Coton Manor, Coton, Northants NN6 8RQ
We received a special welcome on arrival with coffee
At Coton Manor there was something for everyone in this delightful ten acre garden. The first impression was of enormous yellow tulips by the welcome desk (and for the less horticulturally-minded, a showroom-condition 1960s Rolls Royce). Much more was to follow. We wandered the sloping garden where our senses were stimulated with the scent of the Lilac, Wisteria and Azaleas, with closely-manicured lawns and borders, many beside spring-fed rills. On each ornamental pond, equally ornamental exotic ducks. It was with some surprise that we came across four brightly coloured flamingos sleeping by one of the many ponds. Beautiful clematis and primulas were abundant, with a wide range of other plants for all tastes. Other glories included the bluebell wood, great wisteria, and a well-stocked nursery (which many of us couldn’t resist).
Cottesbrook Hall & Gardens, Cottesbrook, Northants NN6 8PF
The second garden of the day was Cottesbrook Hall, a huge estate with a Queen Anne stately home (1702). The head gardener gave us an informative tour of the gardens on this vast, beautifully landscaped estate with formal gardens surrounding the Hall in a series of individually planted rooms. Central was a magnificent Cedar of Lebanon. The wild garden was very attractively laid out around a stream with many specimen Acers which were looking very bright and fresh at this time of year. The long vistas, ha-has, sheep fields studded with specimen trees, and workers’ cottages beyond the park gates, all spoke of a Capability Brown – style design, though no records exist of who laid it out. The formal and ‘wild’ gardens, developed during the 20th Century contain the work of a number of distinguished landscape designers – Robert Weir Schultz, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and Dame Sylvia Crowe. The main inspiration came from the late Catherine Macdonald-Buchanan. In the recent past the gardens had been subject to designs from James Alexander Sinclair, Angela Collins and Arne Maynard. The tour highlighted the work the new head gardener who with his team is reinvigorating the planting, exposing once again some of the overgrown features and told us us of the many interesting and expensive shrubs on order.
Cottesbrook is a very fine park and garden, and promises to be even better in a year or two.
Thanks to Hazel and Valerie as ever for finding these gardens and organising everything for us.
Coach visit to Garden in Gloucestershire and Nursery in Worcestershire
13 June, 2017
Upton Wold, Northwick Estate, Morton-in-Marsh, GL56 9TR
We plan to stop on route for coffee before our visit to Mr & Mrs Bond’s 9 acre garden. Started in 1976 from a barren & neglected estate and with the help of several eminent designers they have achieved an unconventional garden on a complicated site. Trees are Mr Bond’s passion, he has an arboretum of 200 walnut trees of 14 different species and many other fine specimens around the main garden are underplanted with herbaceous perennials and rare/unusual plants which are Mrs Bond’s domain. She is an intuitive and skilful plantswoman. A canal and fountain garden at the rear of the early 17thC house look over a broad view. There are ambitious fruit & vegetable gardens, not to mention rose and sumptuous curving borders graded by height and colour.
(We strongly recommend bringing a packed lunch to eat on the coach before we arrive at the next garden)
Harrells Hardy Plants Nursery Garden, Rudge Rd. Evesham,WR11 4JR
Entry to the nursery includes Tea/coffee & cake and a look around their beautiful 1 acre garden. Naturalistic in style and informally planted with an array of hardy perennials, grasses and a large range of hemerocallis. Accessed by bark paths with several seating areas giving views over the garden, so maybe we shall once again come home laden with plants we have seen growing there!
Coach visit to Two Gloucestershire Gardens
27 June, 2017
Covertside, Perrott’s Brook, Nr Cirencester GL7 7BN
Our first visit is to the beautiful hillside garden of Lyn & John Sales. John was Garden Adviser to the National Trust before his retirement. The garden is full of gems, with herbaceous borders full of lilies, campanulas and hemerocallis. There is a gravel garden with silver leaved plants, wonderful iris and his meadows are full of orchids. Coffee & cake included.
In the afternoon the coach will take us the short journey to:-
Moor Wood, Woodmancote GL7 7EB
The Robinson family have been at Moor Wood since 1911. The current Mr Robinson has established a collection of 150 rambler roses and since 1983 has held the National Collection of Rambler Roses. Mrs Robinson, with Mary Keen’s advice, has developed the perennial plantings among the established clipped yews around the house. Two acres of shrub, orchard and wild flower gardens, in a beautiful isolated valley setting looking over the ancient Moor Wood to the west. A semi-formal vista ends with wooden gates opening onto the landscape making the garden & landscape blend seamlessly. The best time to visit this garden and tea is included.
Members Summer Social and Plant Fair
6 July, 2017
2.00pm at Pyt House, Ashampstead, Berkshire RG8 8RA and Willow Tree Cottage.
Pyt House Gardens
By kind permission of Hans & Virginia Von Celsing.
A beautiful 4 acre garden around a C18 house. Virginia has designed this garden herself over the last 10 years with the benefit of existing mature trees she has added Yew, Hornbeam and Beech hedges to create several garden rooms. There is a delightful pond area, perennial borders and pleached limes with an orchard and separate vegetable garden. A lovely old barn will give us shelter for Tea and cakes plus our own plant stall.
Willow Tree Cottage, originally built for the gardener of Pyt House, is right next door and will welcome us too. Katy Weston tells us she hopes her husband will be on hand to play the piano as we wander around their cottage garden.
Please support Reading Gardeners and donate well potted and labelled plants.
This property is 4 miles west of Pangbourne, leave the M4 at Junction 12 and follow signs to Yatterton and Ashampstead. It should be signed on the road as parking is usually in an adjacent field.
By Car to Haseley Court and Adwell House
27 July, 2017
Meet 10.30 at Haseley Court, Great Haseley, OX44 7LL
The former home of Nancy Lancaster where she created a stylish and elegant English garden. There was topiary here in 1543 and the ancient topiary chess set still in excellent shape, miraculously survived the Second World War. Since 1982 Desmond & Fiona Heyward have lived here initially sharing the garden with Mrs Lancaster who died in 1994. Since then, Mrs Heyward has continued to develop the garden, making it very much her own A entrancing walled garden with hornbeam tunnels and a mix of perennial plants continues to keep the garden alive and well worth a visit. We shall be given a short talk on the history and the gardener will give us a tour. Coffee & biscuits included.
We shall then drive individually (approximately 15 – 20 minutes) to :-
Adwell House, Thame, OX9 7DQ
The gardens here cover 4 acres and have been developed by many generations of the Birch-Reynardson family. The broad sweeping lawns are surrounded with impressive specimen trees. A large mixed border in the front of the house is planted with shrubs, roses and perennials (including large plantings of salvias) which lead on to more subdued plants around the church. The walled garden is more formal with box edged beds with roses and perennials together with arches and trellis covered with roses and clematis. We are hoping to have a tour of the garden with Colin the gardener.
By Coach to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
13 September, 2017
This will be a full day visit to Kew Gardens which probably need no introduction.
There is so much to see and do here that you will be able to decide what interests you most of all. We have included in the cost the use of the ‘Hop on/Hop off train which covers a large area of Kew and will enable you to visit areas which may normally seem too far to walk.
There are several restaurants/cafes so coffee & lunch can be your own choice.
Two Northamptonshire/Oxford Properties
16 May, 2018
Canons Ashby near Daventry NN11 3SD
This National Trust property dates from Elizabethan times and remains virtually unaltered so it may well prove interesting to visit the mysterious wall-paintings, plasterwork and fine furnishings of the house itself if the weather is inclement. The restored formal gardens, originally created by Edward Dryden around 1710 (the design attributed to Geo.London & Henry Wise, gardeners to Queen Anne) contain topiary, a fernery, herbaceous border and fruit & vegetable terraces. We are told the spring bedding should be at its peak for our visit.
Coffee/lunch can be had here before we leave for the next visit.
PLEASE remember to bring your NT membership card or, if you are not a member, tell us so we can hopefully pair you with a life member, otherwise entry will be an extra cost of £8.50.
Pettifers Garden, Nr Banbury OX17 1RU
This 1.5 acre garden was started in 1984 when The Honourable Mrs Gina Price moved here and the garden was a blank canvas. She says her knowledge was virtually non-existant and she began with shrubs & roses but soon realised, when her friends from Kiftsgate came to offer advice, that she wanted much more than that. What a treat awaits us now, 34 years later and with input from the head gardener Polly Stevens who will be introducting the garden to us and answering questions. (She often writes articles in Which Gardening so some of you may know of her).
Tea is included.
COACH TRIP PRICE £30
Pick up points: 8.30am Theale car park: 8.50 am Valpy Street Bus Stop, Central Reading
9.00 Caversham – by Mapledurham Playing Fields
Two Gloucestershire Gardens
6 June, 2018
The Coach House, Ampney Crusis, Cirencester GL7 5RY
Mel & Nick Tanner manage this 1.5 acre garden together with minimal help. They began to work on it in 1988 with inspiration from their many visits to neighbouring and far flung gardens. There are no vistas here so they have developed a set of internal views, divided mostly by yew hedges, which make the most of the space and keep the eye within the garden’s boundaries. The borders are overflowing with herbaceous plants contrasting the calm of the rill and green garden.
Coffee/tea & cakes included.
We plan to stop en-route to the next garden for lunch/picnic etc.
Eastleach House, Eastleach Martin, Cirencester GL7 3NW
An introductory talk from Mrs Richards and leaflet will start our afternoon visit here to this 14 acre traditional garden. On a wooded hilltop, with long views south and west this garden has everything. A lime avenue leads to a yew roundel encircling the statue of a stag, a minature arboretum leading to a croquet lawn, a walled garden with fastigate Irish yews, roses & clematis to name a few of the delights that await us.
Regrettably no refreshments here.
COACH TRIP PRICE £37
Pick up points: 8.15 Caversham – by Mapledurham Playing Fields
8.30 Valpy Street Bus Stop, Central Reading 8.50 Village Car Park Theale
Two Local Gardens
19 June, 2018
10.00am Waltham Place Organic Farm & Gardens, White Waltham SL6 3JH
We have a maximum of 24 places booked here for this organised tour of the Ornamental gardens, the Kitchen Garden the Woodlands and their farmland. Groups of 8 people will be shown around and this will be followed by a delightful light lunch using their own organic produce. There should be an opportunity to buy some of their produce in their own shop.
2.00pm Northbury Farm, Ruscombe RG10 9XJ £10.00
In the afternoon, a short distance away; we are very fortunate to have been able to arrange a visit to Sir Colin & Lady Southgate’s garden. Northbury Farm is a beautiful 16th century farmhouse that was restored in the late eighties. The gardens have been developed over the last 20 years when an ancient oak and a venerable Cornus mas together with a few other mature trees and an abundance of Leylandii (all gone!) were all that were noteworthy. The garden is now broken up into several separate areas, the cottage garden, the herbaceous garden, the rose garden a shrub & general area and a modern section with grasses and a Japanese garden. Behind this the garden opens into a less formal area with woodland and a stream and pond. Althogether there are over 1500 different species of plants spread over the 12 acres.
Our hosts are kindly offering tea within the entry price.
We have a maximum number of 32 places available here so you may opt for both or one of the above but we must have firm numbers.
BY PRIVATE CAR
Sudeley Castle and Gardens, and Stanway House
3 July, 2018
Sudeley Castle & gardens, Winchcombe GL54 5JD
The ticket to Sudeley includes a visit to the castle and we strongly recommend this as there are 1000 years of royal history to be had here. It is now a home to Lady Ashcombe and her family although the Dent family in Victorian times did much toward the restoration work and to St Mary’s Church which includes the tomb of Queen Katherine Parr. However, the gardens are very extensive and a complete delight, so if the castle does not beckon you the gardens will certainly not disappoint. There is a good visitor centre and café where refreshments can be had at your leisure and there should be time to see and do everything at your own pace.
Nearby Stanway House GL54 5JD
We shall hopefully arrive here just in time to see the amazing water fountain. At 3000ft, the highest gravity fed fountain in the world which, drought permitting, will display at 2.45 – 3.30. The water garden has seen gradual restoration of the original 18th century one which was probably designed by the greatest of British landscape gardeners, Charles Bridgeman. The formal Canal, on a terrace above the house, the striking Pyramid and eight ponds have been reinstated. The Jacobean manor house is still lived in by the Earl of Wemyss and our ticket allows entry to the house with its fascinating furniture.
COACH TRIP PRICE £38
Pick up points: 8.15 Caversham – by Mapledurham Playing Fields
8.30 Valpy Street Bus Stop, Central Reading 9.00 Theale Car Park
Two Gardens in Oxfordshire and Worcestershire
19 July, 2018
Chivel Farm Nr. Chipping Norton OX7 5TR
Mr & Mrs Rosalind Sword have lived on the farm for 40 years and the garden of about 2 acres is in the middle. High up and exposed it is a late garden so roses should still be going strong. There are also many unusual perennials including salvias, phlox, penstemons, agapanthus and the borders are colour schemed. The planting gets more natural as the garden merges into the farmland, with grasses and daisy type flowers in oranges and yellows.
Coffee/tea & biscuits will be served in the conservatory.
Meadow Farm Nursery & Garden, Feckenham near Droitwich B96 6RU
Rob & Diane Cole moved from Birmingham to Meadow Farm in 1998 to seek a more rural way of life and to enable them to develop a nursery in part of the 2 acre meadow. The 1 acre garden to the rear of the house has been developed as a showcase of their mainly herbaceous plants for sale. The adjoining nursery is not open to the general public as most of their sales are through Plant Fairs and private visits such as ours so we will be most welcome to browse & buy!
We are to be treated to one of Diane’s famous teas included in the price.
Coach Trip Price £38
Pick up points: 8.15 Village Car Park, Theale 8.30 Valpy Street Bus Stop, Central Reading
8.45 Caversham – Mapledurham Playing Fields
Summer Social and Plant Sale
16 August, 2018
2.00pm The Priory, Beech Hill, Reading RG7 2BJ
Directions:- M4 Junction 11, take the A33 south towards Basingstoke. At the traffic lights turn left to Spencers Wood. After 1.5 miles turn right for Beech Hill. After approx. 1.5 miles turn left into Wood Lane, then right down Priory Drive.
By kind permission of Mr & Mrs C Carter who are allowing us to set up our plant sale within her grounds. The mature gardens surround a former 12th century priory (not open), rebuilt in 1648. This is a very attractive setting beside the river Loddon. There is a large formal walled garden with espalier fruit trees, lawns, mixed borders, vegetables and roses. Also a woodland with fine trees, lake and Italian style water garden.
The sale will take place after we have explored the garden and taken tea with her on the terrace.
It is important for us to let Mrs Carter know numbers intending to come to this garden.
PLEASE make every effort to donate well potted, labelled plants as this is an important fund raising event for Reading Gardeners. Also, bring lots of small change to BUY too!
Bury Court Open Day
26 September, 2018
An opportunity to join the September Open Day at Bury Court in a delightful location.
By kind permission of John Coke; Phoenix Perennial Plants hosts this full day event.
Following a welcoming coffee, Marina Christopher opens with a lecture, followed by a 2 course lunch and in the afternoon Marina will guide us on a tour of the front garden at Bury Court which was designed by Christoper Bradley-Hole. Throughout the visit there is unlimited access to the gardens with an opportunity to view the walled garden, planted in 1997 as the first naturalistic garden designed by Piet Oudolf in Britain.
There will be seasonal plants and bulbs for sale throughout the day.
COACH TRIP RICE £45
Pick up points: 9.15 Mapledurham Playing Fields 9.30 Valpy Street Bus Stop, Central Reading
9.45 Mereoak Park & Ride