The historic mansion at Wakehurst is surrounded by formal and informal planted borders, a large lawn, a pond and a walled garden - a setting which changes dramatically with the seasons.
The pond is a real draw for visitors and lies south east of the Mansion. It is a top spot for photographs as the reflections of the sandstone mansion in the water can be amazing.
Planted with waterlilies, and inhabited by mallards and moorhens, the pond features a central island on which an elegant swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) stands.
The pond’s border looks particularly lovely in the springtime. It is planted with colourful rhododendrons and magnolias which create a blaze of colour, while pampas grasses at the northern end add year-round texture to the area.
The border around the pond is a recent addition and was planted not only to be a beautiful addition to the landscape but to enhance safety for visitors. From March until late May this border displays a wealth of interesting bulbs, herbaceous perennials and shrubs. These include forsythia, flowering currant (Ribes) and Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride' with its flamboyant white flowers which can also be seen in the Slips. The lawn south of the Mansion, next to the pond, is planted with thousands of narcissi.
At the northern end of the pond there are several mature Japanese maples, whose leaves glow gold, orange, crimson and deep red in Autumn. These were probably planted by former owner Lady Price.
The Walled Garden is one of Wakehurst’s most beautiful spaces. You enter through a heavy oak door into a secret world of peace and tranquillity. Whatever season you choose for a visit, after a leisurely stroll and some precious minutes sat on one of the benches inside, you will leave far more relaxed than when you entered.
The Walled Garden is divided into two distinct areas. One is the Henry Price Memorial Garden that is planted in an informal cottage garden style. This leads through to the Pleasurance Garden that has a more formal character with Victorian style high yew hedges.
The Walled Garden was created in the 1970s. The cottage style section has an abundance of roses and shrubs intermingled with herbaceous perennials, tender plants and annuals. Colour and scent fill the air in the summer, but you’ll also find tulips and alliums in early spring and tender plants continuing to flower late into autumn.
You will find roses carefully trained into columns or over low domes which are covered in scented pink flowers in June and July with varieties of sweet pea and chocolate cosmos joining them as they come into flower for the rest of the summer. Traditional herbaceous perennials, such as phlox and Michaelmas daisies, are mixed with tender plants that are propagated in the Wakehurst nurseries and planted out for summer. These include Argranthmum, penstemons and South African Diascia, as well as more unusual plants like Corethrogyne from California.
As the title suggests, this is the border that runs against the wall of the Mansion on its west side. It is planted in a rainbow of summer colour in true Gertrude Jekyll style. Using a mix of herbaceous perennials and tender plans. The border runs from oranges through reds, pinks, mauves and blues to white at the Walled Gardens gate. This really is a riot of colour and a glorious place to soak up the afternoon summer sun.
At right angles to the Mansion runs another border using the south-facing wall of the Walled Gardens as a backdrop. Here is Wakehurst’s only taxonomic display. All the plants in this border are monocotyledons. These are plants with a single seed leaf and are the subject of much of Kew’s scientific research. Here you will find bulbs, grasses, orchids and palms. In keeping with Wakehurst’s geographic planting elsewhere, the border is split into sections for plants from the northern and southern hemispheres.
The Monocotyledon Border runs west from the Mansion along the outside of the southern boundary of the Walled Garden.
Monocotyledons are an interesting species as they have a single seed leaf called a cotyledon as opposed to dicotyledons that have two embryonic leaves. Here you will find bulbs, grasses, orchids and palms. In keeping with Wakehurst’s geographic planting elsewhere, the border is split into sections for plants from the northern and southern hemispheres.