2016,2017 & 2018
Exploring Gardens is a group visiting different gardens on the first Thursday of each month. ( weather dependent)
Garden Visits 2016 February -September
Garden Visits 2017 April -October
2018 Garden Visits
Amidst a kaleidoscope of colour nine members of Exploring Gardens Group enjoyed a meander through the abundant Exotic Garden at Wisley. This year's hot summer has sent the bold planting skywards and outward like a fantastic tropical paradise. The spectacular flowers were coloured in a profusion of hot reds, zinging orange and yellow flowers with the deepest black purple leaves.Exquisite silk trees, a passing dragonfly, and a stunning white, intricate Passion flower demonstrated the beauty of nature. The huge banana plant leaves and the green leaves of the golden Aureum contrasted brilliantly with the vibrant colours.
It was also Wisley's plant fair so there was an opportunity to buy some of the loveliness of the afternoon visit yo take home.
Delicious cake, cups of tea and coffee and a happy chat together rounded off a wonderful garden visit.
Pam Crawford & Janine Stein Photographs
On a beautiful August day, 14 members of the Exploring Gardens Group visited Spurfold, ( a garden open for charity under National Open Garden Scheme), situated up a steep single track in quiet, leafy Peaslake.
Surrounded by mature oak and beech trees, the garden has three luscious, silky lawns which were a refreshing green after the more normal Savannah coloured lawns of this hot summer. The group were welcomed by Barney, the owner's friendly golden retriever, who joined the garden tour and also the tea party on one of the shaded lawns.
The garden's boarders were full of spectacular Phlox plants in pink, crimson and white on tiered banks. Shady wooded paths and vine covered gazebos were a welcome retreat from the sun.Cool jazz-style music wafting from the open windows and the sound of the tinkling water features on the two ponds created a relaxed ambience to while away an afternoon.
Situated in the centre of the Surrey Hills,an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the owners have created a delightful garden.
Pam Crawford Photographs
Our visit to Pratsham Grange was pure joy. Alan Comber, the owner, was most entertaining and generous host who clearly was delighted to share his hard work and stunning large garden with visitors . He has designed numerous features around the garden, all of which live harmoniously beside each other. There are colourful herbaceous borders, stunning white flower beds, rose gardens, ponds joined by a cascading stream and wooded areas with views towards Holmbury and Leith Hills. The visit ended with tea and cakes, taking in beautiful surroundings, chatting with each other and our friendly hosts.
Janine Stein Photographs
Our visit to
Our largest number yet visited the beautiful Shieling garden today which was throughly enjoyed by all even though we were accompanied by several rain showers. The one acre garden is hidden behind very tall rhododendron bushes and landscaped at the front and back with several swathes of lush mixed boarders. The impressive collection of hostas is one of the garden's highlights. Several charming child sculptures are discreetly placed here and there, with one sitting on a bench reading a book and another forming a water feature under an acer tree. We were warmly welcomed by the owner, Dr Sarah Wilson, who talked to us about the plants she lovingly cares for.
Janine Stein Photographs
Our second visit of the year
The Exploring Garden Group visited Heathside, near Cobham on Thursday 3rd May. Our hosts, Margaret and Terry made us very welcome and showed us around their beautiful garden, designed for all year round interest. Whilst it is one of the smaller gardens that we have visited only being a third of an acre, it was packed with a wonderful array of shrubs, perennials, trees, sculptures, topiary, two ponds and four water features, pots/containers of all sizes and many more plants. There was also a summerhouse where you could sit and look down the garden complete with music as well as a new glasshouse housing exotic plants. The garden was on a slope and had been harmoniously landscaped to provide different areas of interest. We were blessed with wonderful sunshine and we had tea and scrumptious homemade cake on the patio to finish off a perfect afternoon.
Janine Stein & Gillian Micklewright Photographs
Our first visit of the year
Nymans National Trust Garden
The Exploring Gardens Group started the year with a beautifully sunny visit to Nymans, the National Trust house and garden in West Sussex. The visit was made particularly interesting and great fun by a guided tour of the garden by Sylvia, a volunteer ranger and guide who had vast knowledge of its plants and history. She imparted detailed information about the provenance and characteristics of many of the trees, shrubs and flowers. The delightful gardens provided far-reaching views of the Sussex countryside and were full of spring colour, from the humble daffodil and crocus to impressive camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. An uplifting visit to start the year!
Janine Stein & Pam Crawford Photographs
Gardens we have visited in 2017.
APRIL : RAMSTER GARDEN Our first visit to Ramster Gardens was blessed with a beautifully sunny spring afternoon, which made this visit even more special. This peaceful, mature garden has magnificent displays of camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons whilst azaleas are just beginning to flower too. Strolling along the meandering paths in the sunshine and amongst a wide range of impressive shrubs and trees, with views across the lakes, was a delight!
MAY : The Exploring Gardens Group went to Vann, Hambledon, Surrey on 4th May. Our visit was greatly enhanced by meeting the owner, Mary Caroe, who gave us a fascinating and informative talk about the history of the housed garden, and she clearly loves her garden very much. The garden design was originally done by Gertrude Jekyll. The garden is simply gorgeous, beautifully lush and mature, relaxed and peaceful. It is divided into a series of rooms, each with its own enchanting character. This must be one of the gems of the National Garden Scheme. The Group finished the afternoon with our own tea and homemade cake.
Anne Smith & Gillian Micklewright
JUNE: 18 Butterflies from the Exploring Gardens Group enjoyed a delightful sunny afternoon in the beautiful garden of Ashleigh Grange, Chapel Lane, Westhumble. The owner Angela Gilchrist gave us a guided tour of her stunning garden with views over the Surrey Hills including Box Hill and Cherkley Court. She and her husband have spent 25 years creating the garden which has many features including a waterfall and a pond, a stumpery, statues amongst the plants and flowerbeds with a huge variety of plants and flowerbeds with a huge variety of plants. We enjoyed a delicious tea with homemade cake on her terrace then were inspired to buy many of her interesting plants to try to copy her stylish planting.
Trudy Price & Gillian Micklewright
JULY: Bridge End Cottage. This hot sunny afternoon we visited a delightful NGS garden at Bridge End Cottage in Ockham. The owner gave us a really interesting and informative talk and tour of her large garden, including the Latin names of plants whenever possible. The pretty cottage is so called because bridges are to be found over two streams which run through the garden and merge as they flow ( at other times of the year) under the owners house. The garden comprises formal beds, more relaxed areas, a beautiful wild flower meadow, an impressive vegetable plot and a greenhouse. After the tour we all gratefully headed for the shade of some trees where we were served tea and homemade cake! A real treat.
Sheila Roberts & Janine Stein ( Photographs)
AUGUST: The Old Rectory . The Old Rectory is a beautiful honey-coloured Georgian manor house set in a five-acre garden divided into distinct areas. At the back there is an exquisite Italiante garden of topiary, fountains and statuary. Terracotta pots filled with exotic and flowering plants are dotted here and there, set amongst manicured box hedges and shrubs. The traditional water features are delightful and the classical stone statues give a certain grandeur to the gardens. We were shown all round the garden, including an Italian courtyard, a wooded area, a kitchen garden and greenhouses.
The visit finished with tea and an impressive array of homemade cakes in the owner's beautiful home. We were made to feel very welcome!
Gillian Micklewright & Janine Stein ( Photographs )
SEPTEMBER: The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden. Due to popular demand we visited The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden for a second time today and we were reminded of how special this place really is. It is ten aches of mature mixed woodland garden which has been redesigned and replanted with many large leaved plants and tall grasses, enhanced by the creation of three new ponds. Modern, as well as more traditional sculptures are to be found along the winding paths all over the garden. Many were very unusual made from all manner of materials and, whilst some were more popular than others, they all proved to be fascinating talking points.
OCTOBER: Wisley. We were so lucky that our final visit of the year to Wisley was on a beautiful sunny afternoon, which showed off the autumn colours perfectly. Thank you very much Elaine Belt who used to work there and was kind enough to take us on a tour around the garden. She took us to some areas that we were perhaps not so familiar with and pointed out some unusual and interessting trees and plants. It was a real treat to learn fron her extensive knowledge of the garden and this really did add an extra dimension to the visit.
Anne Smith & Janine Stein ( Photographs )