30 July 2014 By Jo Phillips
I’ve driven passed the National Trust’s Woolbeding so many times - slowing down at the gateway that allows you to admire the view between the herbaceous borders and up towards the house. Therefore it was a real treat to be able to visit the garden at our event there recently and see it in its entirety; I wasn’t disappointed.
The weather was stonkingly good for wandering around beautiful gardens. The mini bus service from the Grange in Midhurst gets around the fact Woolbeding currently doesn’t have a car park and worked wonderfully for all our guests. Head Gardener, Paul Gallivan met us at Woolbeding and we were given refreshments in the Orangerie – lemon sponge cake with lavender which was scrumptious! Paul and gardener, Lizzie, then showed us around the gardens. My favourite areas were the Fountain Garden with its glorious colour palette, and the main herbaceous borders planted with white, pale yellow and soft blues – to die for! Paul was an interesting and engaging guide sharing anecdotes and expertise.
Simon Sainsbury and his partner, Stewart Grimshaw originally leased the house and gardens from the National Trust in the late 1970s/early 80s on a 100 year lease for £1 a year. Over the last 30+ years they have developed the gardens and Stewart continues to do so even though Simon has now passed away. It has only recently been opened to the public (on Thursday and Fridays only by pre-booking) and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Much of the garden has been designed by Isabel and Julian Bannerman and previously by Lanning Roper. The cool dampness of the water garden and water fall with gothic summerhouse was very welcome on such a hot day – Neptune looked very fine in his grotto with his robe of sea shells!
It was also very tempting to stand below the large “champagne glass” shaped sculpture/water feature in the hope of getting a cooling spray. When we finally reached the Orchid House all our guests were impressed with the structure – which just happens to be an Alitex glasshouse. Wooden raised beds surrounding the greenhouse offered us the opportunity to sit for a while and enjoy the space. Electricity into the greenhouse has just been installed, so it is not yet being fully utilised but there were some lovely orchids already in situ and lots more to come.
All our guests thoroughly enjoyed the visit and were very appreciative of the hospitality they received. Thank you to Paul and the team for being such great hosts.
I’d definitely recommend Woolbeding as a garden to visit – and have already done so.
For more information on Woolbeding click here.