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  • Writer's pictureLynn Cordall

Staycation Gardens to dream in

Its nearly the Bank holiday. Surprisingly, its going to be cold, rainy and well, a bit rubbish.

On Saturday and Sunday I will be in the Garden, but when its pouring down on Monday, I am looking to plan a September get away.

So, I hear you ask, what does a Garden Designer do for a UK September holiday? Why, of course, plan it around a course on designing with grasses in Dorset, preceded by a trail of dream gardens to see in and around the Kent / Sussex area. (For those of you who are worrying about the Under Gardener - he will be taken great care of with copious amounts of red wine, beach walks and a big treat -see number 3 for spoilers).

So, why am I telling you all this? Its really an excuse to list 5 amazing gardens that I hope one day you get to see. Some are old, some are new, some have been in existence for 100's of years. What they all have in common is amazing planting and design, often ground breaking and highly important to the development of recent garden design.

True feasts for the eyes and soul. We can all do with a bit of that at the moment. Enjoy.

1. The Sussex Prairie Garden, Henfield, Sussex

This is the garden I would build if I had acres of flat, free draining land. Just beautiful, and prairie (naturalistic planting style) gardens look amazing in September and October, so great for a late get away viewing. You'll be amazed that this was only planted in 2008, when the creators gathered 40 family and friends to plant 35,000 plants in 8 acres of land.(I'm impressed that they trusted them to do it...but that probably says more about me than them).

2. Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

Possibly not at its English garden best in September, but still a marvel to see the structure and legendary "rooms" such as the white garden for real. The buildings have been there since the 1530's, but its the gardens that have earned it a Grade 1 listing for historic parks and gardens. Designed by the writer Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicholson, the gardens opened in 1938.

3. Gravetye Manor, Sussex

Gravetye is a Garden and hotel. The gardens were originally created by William Robinson in 1885 (It was also his home), and are considered to be one of most important historic gardens in the UK. There is a flower garden, renovated meadows, kitchen garden and orchards. Close your eyes and you could be living there with William in the late 19th century.

Oh, did I mention it has a Michelin star restaurant too? Treat time.

4. Great Dixter, Rye, Kent

I assume you have heard of Great Dixter. No? Really? Sorry, its a bit like a gardeners equivalent of the Holy grail. Visit, and you will choose wisely...….

Started on its journey by Horticultural royalty Christopher Lloyd and succeeded by his protegee Fergus Garret, the importance of this garden cannot really be ignored. Why? Garden geekery alert. The use of colour (clashing, bright and bold) and successional planting for year round interest (ripping out a rose garden for a tropical garden long before they became a thing - I.e. they made it a thing) and pioneering planting for pollinators and wildlife. Students come from all over the world to train here. As you wander around, you'll see them - as well as the Dachshunds, trying to help.

5. Prospect Cottage, Dungeness

Isn't that were the massive nuclear power station is? Also, isn't it so dry it is classed as England's only desert? Yes to both, but there is also a nature and wildlife reserve and a house and garden that Derek Jarman built (well the garden). Planted in the shingle, with sculpture a focus, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is extraordinary. Apparently is inspired Beth Chatto to build her famous dry garden - but that came form who knows - I'm choosing to believe it.

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