The Group has been on five visits this year. All were very successful and enjoyed by those who took part.
Our annual coach trip to Exbury Gardens took place in May when the azaleas and rhododendrons should have been in full bloom but due to the very warm April, the azalease were already over. However the gardens are stunning and with 200 acres to explore plus steam train rides in the woodland an a buggy tour of the garden there was something for everyone.
Our visit to the Old Vicarage at Washington included the personal attention of two of their gardeners. This 3 acre garden is set round a regency house (not open) with a formal front garden and the rear laid out with herbaceous borders and mature trees. here the warm April worked in our favour with the roses looking their best. There was also a range of lovely greenhouses and raised beds for vegetables.
We returned to the Sussex Prairie Garden at Henfield, choosing a different time of year from our last visit. The six acres have herbaceous borders near the house and a different world of stunning grasses and perennials at the back. One of the great joys of this garden is the ability to walk on the paths laid through the centre of the beds so that you are close up to some of the amazing plants.
Our fourth visit was to Latchetts at Danehill - another return visit to see the garden under different conditions. This time we were shown round by a daughter of the owner who was visiting for her mother's 80th birthday. HIghlights were the dahlias, the wood carvings and, of course, the spooky wood (this time nobody got wet!) We particularly noticed the mulching of the beds to suppress the weeds.
All of these gardens taught us something about the care of plants and planting, not to mention a taste for home made cakes....
Our final visit this year was to the council run garden in at Southover Grange in Lewes. The Group were treated to a fascinating tour taken by Mr Philip Pople who has a deep knowledge of the Grange and gardens together with potos taken over the years to illustrate their development. Philip told us about the history which stretches back to the mid 16th Centruy when the house was first built. It remained in the hands of one family for three centuries before being sold and then changed hands several times until being bought by Lewes District Council in the 1940s. They had hoped tobuild on the ground but luckily this was stoppped by an edict from Central government which banned any development and so the Grange was preserved for future generations. The house ws remodelled in the 19th Century but many of the original stones and bricks have been re-used including some from Lewes Priory. He showed us how the gardens looked from old plans and how they were being redeveloped again to look as they were. It was a joy to see municipal gardens so well cared for and obviously loved by the Lewes residents - they have a gem in their midst
We are always happy to see members of U3A who are not members of the Gardening Group join us on these visits.
Ann (Gardening Group leader)