A Road Trip - Episode one: Lunch at Gravetye Manor

Its been a while since I have been on a road trip with my friend Michelle, in fact its been seven years so I cannot blame the pandemic for the long pause.  Though if it had not been for the pandemic it would have only been five years as this trip was planned for 2020 originally.  Anyhoo, this year we planned it and did it, there was no hesitation just in case we missed the window of opportunity.

We decided first stop on our time away would be lunch at Gravetye Manor.  We were celebrating two things: firstly that we have been friends for over 40 years and that this year we had both had a significant birthday.   We booked for the garden tour with the Head Gardener Tom Coward prior to our lunch and this turned out to have been an excellent idea.  The sky kept looking like rain but we were not going to let that stop us.  

Gravetye was built in the 16th Century for Richard Infield.  In 1884 William Robinson purchased the house and used the grounds to demonstrate his belief in wild gardening, a much less formal approach than was the fashion at that time.  It is from Robinson that a lot of the modern ideas of 'cottage gardening' became popular and he was also a devotee of woodland gardening.  He hated bedding plants, was not keen on roses but promoted the ideas of perennial planting in more naturalistic drifts.  After Robinson died in 1935 the house and gardens fell into decline for 20 years before being made into a hotel.  The hotel has been owned by Hosking family since February 2010 and the garden is still gardened to Robinson's principles.
The tour started at the meadows, which were alive with the chirruping of grasshoppers and the buzzing of bees and other pollintors.  I have one word for you: knapweed.  It is a plant currently missing from my Wild Garden but I suspect not for much longer.
Knapweed.... just saying...
In the formal part of the gardens, the planting is informal.  It is bouffy, it sprawls, it mingles with its neighbours.
It is a type of planting that really sings to me.  I would love to be able to achieve this look and regular readers will know I have been bemoaning my Pond Border for some time.  I feel it lacks colour, it lacks bouffyness, it lacks...... it lacks....... this level of skill!  Needless to say, I found this garden incredibly inspiring.
This moment where meadow meets formal just blew me away.  Oh to achieve such a look.  Ok I do not have this amount of space, but if I could get the Wild Garden to just look a fraction like this I would be happy.  Did I mention that knapweed was important?
There is much to explore here....
.... so much
It was also so peaceful, so quiet.  It is away from major roads and the quiet is to be treasured.
We visited the glasshouses.
I do love mooching around the back-working areas of a garden.
We visited the Walled Garden with its very beautiful elliptical walls.
This walled garden is more than just a decorative example of food planting, the aim of this garden is to produce edibles to be used in the restaurant.  The gardens and the hotel are both interlinked, with each understanding and supporting the importance of the other.
Care and attention to detail is evident at every moment.  Look how beautiful these gates are?
The sky began to darken to we decided to wend our way to our overnight staying point.  We had had the most marvellous time.  Our lunch was fantastic, it was a real treat and set us up for our few days away.  
We stopped briefly at Standen on our way to our overnight stay.  Standen was designed by Philip Webb in the 1890s.  It was a modern house of its time and designed to Arts and Crafts principles.  We had not got a lot time to really appreciate the house and gardens as it was close to closing time when we arrived.
There was a sculpture exhibition when we visited that we did enjoy.
and we did say hello to this young robin.

We will have to return to Standen another day when we have more time!

The next day we were heading to RHS Wisley.  More of this next time.....

Take care and be kind.

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