The gardens at Pashley Manor are beautiful, hidden gems. The half-timbered, rose-covered fairytale house greets visitors as they turn into the gravel driveway, but it’s the award-winning gardens fanning out into the Sussex countryside that they come for.
In 1999, Pashley Manor won the Historic Houses Association/Christie’s Garden of the Year award, and was described as “one of the finest gardens in England.” The award put Pashley on the map and the gardens now welcome over 25,000 visitors annually. While the garden has grown in size—a restaurant that serves high quality, locally produced food and a gift shop have been added—not much has changed from the early days when the 4.5-hectare garden first opened to the public in 1992.
Catch the tulips in spring
The sweeping lawns and stunning views of the rolling Sussex countryside, complete with soft white mounds of grazing sheep worthy of a painting by Turner, still charm visitors at every turn. In spring, carpets of bluebells give way to an 11-day tulip festival with 20,000 bulbs planted in swathes of colour in the garden and a further 2,000 cut stems in vases in the gift shop and house, which is not normally open to the public. “The highlight of the year for me is the Tulip Festival,” says head gardener Keith Baldock. “The entire garden is absolutely full of colour—every colour except for blue! We plant to a colour scheme in each area of the garden, but the varieties change every year.” This year, there are 97 varieties of tulips planted throughout the garden, including the new variety Tulipa 'Yellow Spider.'
Admire the gorgeous roses in June
Tulips are swiftly followed by roses in June, a Pashley specialty. There are over 85 varieties, both planted and available for sale from award-winning producer Peter Beales Roses. Many are planted in the formal rose garden, which was created within the soft pink brick of the Walled Garden in 1990, and are inter-planted with cream foxgloves, lilies and lavender.
Stroll through the mouth-watering kitchen garden
“This year, we’re very excited to introduce a new festival, a celebration of the Kitchen Garden,” says Kate Wilson, general manager. “We decided to do a weekend focusing on the Kitchen Garden because we got so many positive comments and interest in it last year. Cold frames were removed to expand the Kitchen Garden and tomatoes and peppers put in their place.
When visiting, keep an eye out for David, who looks after the kitchen garden. He will be on-hand to give advice. There will also be a special menu in the café to show how the produce is used, a beekeeper sampling honey made from bees living in hives at Pashley and botanical artist Billy Showell.