Our Gardens

Our gardens are open to visitors from Easter

The gardens came into being about 40 years ago in the derelict kitchen gardens of Staplehurst Manor. The original concept was to show both visitors and customers how herbs and aromatic plants could be integrated into their gardens and borders as well as in a more formal herb garden. This ethos holds as true today as it did in the beginning.

We garden organically and as a result the gardens enjoy a natural balance and are full of wildlife. If you sit quietly you may spot some of the regular visitors from stoats and badgers to the myriad of insects and birds that fill the gardens with movement and sound.From local research it is now believed that the walled garden is early Victorian and was possibly built from locally manufactured bricks. It was once part of the estate of Staplehurst Manor producing vine and soft fruit for the big house. The doorways are original and the central door space was the size to accommodate a Wealden cart allowing produce to be taken up to the Manor.You can still see some remnants of horse drawn agricultural machinery and tools in various parts of the gardens.

As you look around the gardens you will see examples of dressed stonework being used as features in the herb beds and there are large pieces of masonry behind the walled garden too. These are thought to have formed part of the buildings belonging to the Augustine order of Friars from Canterbury as some of this area was owned by them from about the 11th century. It is fascinating to think that somewhere closeby there may have been a monastic building - a challenge for Timeteam perhaps!

The walled garden has had a varied and productive past, evolving over the years from a kitchen garden to supplying strawberries for Wimbledon fortnight and rosemary sprigs for Marks & Spencers ready meals but now it is a peaceful secret garden - an ideal place for you to sit, relax and leave the outside world behind for a few hours.

The themed herb gardens are designed to combine the essence of a traditional English garden with creative design to show you how herbs can be grown in a garden setting in their own right and not just in a formal herb garden. The gardens are linked by winding paths so you can wander through one into another ultimately leading to the walled garden.

The Shakespearean garden Did you know that within the complete works of Shakespeare over 130 herbs are mentioned? No other poet or playwright has made so many references to plants and it gives an intriguing insight into Shakespeare’s knowledge and love of the plant world. This lovely informal border holds many of those herbs

The Spring border This raised rockery bed is always the first to come into flower in the Spring. You can find creeping comfrey, lungwort and sweet violets pushing up through the late March snow. Cuckooflower and carpets of alpine bulbs follow in April gracing this border with their delicate blooms. In early May you will be enthralled by the old fashioned scented roses as they burst into a riot of colour and fragrance

The Sensory garden Is designed to stimulate all the senses. This area has raised beds and wide paths to give easy wheelchair access. You will find features such as windchimes, bubbling water, statues, pebbles and logs mingling with the plants that have been specifically chosen for their sensory interest.. there are the bright, bold colours of marigolds, cornflowers and poppies, the rustling of bamboo, quaking grass and yellow rattle. Spiky houseleeks, prickly teasel seedheads and soft downy lambs ear. The scent of roses, lavender and honeysuckle and the taste of rosemary, chives and marjoram.

The Culinary border Pot or (salad) herbs have been used throughout the ages to enhance the flavour of staple foods. Herbs can also aid digestion and stimulate jaded appetites. This is a mature border containing many of these established edible herbs including angelica, cardoon, mint, rosemary, tansy, fennel and tarragon with seasonal additions of basil, dill, nasturtiums and summer savory.

The Medicinal border Many of the historical healing herbs of folklore can be found in this bed. Good King Henry (Medieval) is known medicinally as English Mercury and the proverb 'Be thou sick or whole, put mercury in thy koole' refers to the plants remedial qualities with indigestion. Smearwort refers to its use as an ointment, poultices made from the leaves cleansed and healed chronic sores. Elecampane (Roman)is mainly used to treat coughs, consumption and other pulmonary complaints and was traditionally used as a home remedy for bronchitis. Garlic (Egyptian) is a diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and stimulant. This wonderful bulb has been attributed with manifold healing powers in many cultures throughout history. It is also said to have healed leprosy and protected against the plague.

 

GARDEN OPENING 2014

The gardens are open at weekends to visitors between Easter and July

Please check opening times here
 

There is good disabled access with ramps and level paths. A toilet for disabled visitors, use of wheelchairs on request, plenty of seating in the gardens.