32 members took this wonderful trip.  We stayed centrally in Brighton and were expertly driven to our various destinations by our ever kind and courteous Graeme.

There were two main attractions, the first visited by us being Great Dixter House (mainly designed by Lutyens) and the Gardens, designed by Lutyens and later by the late Christopher Lloyd.  We were divided into two groups for the gardens tour and our group had a particularly interesting guide who drew a map on the ground to show us how to use available space in group planting and also explained how succession planting was achieved.  Most of us spent so long in the gardens that we barely had time to see the house but it was well worth a visit.  The sitting room, where Christopher and his mother spent a lot of time, was charming.  Fergus Garret is the Head Gardener – he is a speaker at Altamont (Carlow Garden Festival) on 3rd August and he was Speaker at our Club Meeting in October 2010 and a return visit is planned.

The second ‘star’ was Sissinghurst, the renowned garden developed by Vita Sackville West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson.  The current Head Gardener, Troy Scott Smith, was Speaker at our January meeting entitled ‘Revitalising Vita’ and he described how he and his team continued the development of Sissinghurst.  Many of those travelling had already been there, but for those of us who had not, it was truly spectacular.  Unusually, all of the income generated at Sissinghurst is re-invested solely in that property.

We visited a further 7 gardens of various sizes over the four days – all of interest; in one, we learned how the owners managed a very well stocked garden by ‘lifting skirts’, pruning and using structures to support pots to give height; the owner of another, the Principal of the English Gardening School was very informative and we may meet her again as one of our Speakers; another was a beautiful home and garden set in the countryside, the house is open to guests, there is a very well managed extensive vegetable garden but the large rose garden in tones of white through to pink was wonderfully scented and it and a traditionally planted long border provided a feast for the senses.  A number of the others were small gardens which are opened by their owners for charities; we lunched in some of these and enjoyed chatting to the owners; one of these small gardens has been widely recognised for the contribution of almost £100,000 to charity.

Summie Kenny – June 2018