At the start of the month we headed down to Sussex for an early celebratory meal at Gravetye Manor; it's somewhere that's been on my radar and to visit list for a while and I'd heard the afternoon teas there were just fabulous. Although when I looked at the sample menus, everything looked fabulous and we quickly upgraded ourselves to a proper meal. We'd hope to book a dinner reservation, but by the time we remembered to actually book they were full for the dates that worked for us, so we opted for lunch instead.
It felt slightly strange, but quite decadent, to spoil ourselves on a Tuesday lunchtime, but it actually worked out really well as despite being full of gorgeous food we were able to wander around the gardens and beautiful grounds in our finery, which wouldn't have been an option after an evening meal, and let's face it it'd be highly unlikely that we'd get there early enough to do it beforehand (although on reflection that is probably the best advice I can give you!)
After cocktails, three courses and coffee with petit fours and some relaxing and recovering in the lounge we headed out to the gardens. I'd read that there was a walled garden, so that was incentive enough. I'll admit though it's the first garden I've explored in heels, but given that this exploration took place after a gourmet lunch, I think it was the lunch more than the heels that slowed us down.
When I saw these gates, the entrance to the walled garden, I knew we'd made the right choice to get up and explore. Aren't they beautiful?
Inside the walled garden we were to discover the most bountiful of gardens which is used to supply fruit, vegetables and flowers for the hotel and restaurant, and that explains why there were such mounds of rhubarb and artichokes. That's quite a responsibility to grow enough to satisfy a restaurant dish.
The garden is oval in shape, or elliptical if you want to be formal about these things, and the path leads and encourages you around the garden. It's one of the few remaining Victorian walled kitchen gardens that remains in production and covers 1.5 acres of what Gravetye Manor say is "the most beautiful soil imaginable" and I suspect they have a point.
What surprised me was the number of flowers being grown, but on reflection and learning they supply the hotel with cut flowers it's not that surprising. It did remind me that I should grow more flowers in my allotment and this year I'm determined to add a cut flower bed.
Part-way round the garden I spotted another gate, and I think this one, even more beautiful than the entrance gates. Its design, the clematis clambering over it and the lichen covered sandstone walls all contributing to the prettiest of pictures.
As we continued to walk around the walled garden it was the flowers and flowering herbs that caught my attention, and I'm rather pleased with some of my iPhone shots.
It was good to see the apple blossom, I think it's slightly longer lasting than the cherry blossom which has already been and gone in our own garden and is often the blossom "snow" so prevalent in April and early May.
And there were berries too, that will no doubt end up on a fortunate diner's plate. We were curious though as to what colour these would turn out to be, and it's unlikely we'll ever know.
As we left the garden there was a small brick hut right by the entrance which was covered with roses and clematis entwined and it made what is no doubt still a functional space pretty and seem completely at home in its environment.
So a great wander around a fantastic space, and my fascination for walled and kitchen gardens remains in place, there really is something special about them, but when there's a walled kitchen garden to explore, it's totally something else!