I’d been hankering to visit the tulip festival at Pashley Manor gardens in East Sussex for the past two years. 2020 was going to be the year. We all know what happened next. When Pashley re-opened I decided I wasn’t going to leave it a minute longer and set off to Ticehhurst in East Sussex to indulge in the peace and pleasures of an English Country garden.
These quintessential English gardens are set in 11-acres with the backdrop of a rather splendid private house. Pashley Manor is a gorgeous Grade I listed dwelling. The front of the house has a beautiful Tudor framed frontage dating back to 1550 and is an impressive sight as you pull into the driveway.
The Queen Anne rear of the house dates back to 1720 and was blessed with a second bloom of wisteria during our visit.
Pashley Manor Gardens
The award-winning gardens were opened to the public in 1992 following restoration by owners James and Angela Sellick with advice from friend and landscape architect Anthony du Gard Pasley.
In 1981 when the family moved in, the gardens were wild with brambles, weeds and nettles residing in the beds and borders. With foresight, hard work and dedication the family and du Gard Pasley brought the garden to its fruition and in 1999 the Historic Houses Association and Christie’s voted Pashley a well-deserved ‘Garden of the Year’.
You may well spot Mr Sellick working in the garden – the family is very much hands-on with an obvious love and dedication to the gardens.
We enter through a wrought iron gate at the side of the house and find ourselves in the first of a series of beautifully planted and colour themed garden rooms. We wander at will enjoying the vibrant planting as we explore each section of the garden.
Sculptures at Pashley Manor
Amid the planting are carefully placed statues by eminent and local sculptors. The abstract and figurative sculptures make and interesting addition to the gardens. Pick up a price list on arrival in case any catch your eye.
The Kitchen Garden
The Victorian greenhouse swelters as the sun beats through the glass. The nearby pool with its purple and lilac planting looks cool and inviting. We head to the kitchen garden which is laid out as a potager and flourishing with fresh with produce.
Rows of spherical purple alliums contrast with a regimented criss-cross of bamboo canes supporting tender runner beans. Plump pears and vibrant berries draw heat from the rustic brick wall, ripe for picking. I resist the temptation to pluck a soft summer fruit from its stem.
Marigolds sit amongst the broad beans to deter the blackfly and French globe artichokes contrast with the feathery leaves of aromatic fennel. Sweet peas cling to obelisks. There’s an abundance of herbs, salads, vegetables and fruit. I’d have happily stayed in the kitchen garden all afternoon.
The Walled Garden
We linger in the fragrant rose garden as a confetti of powdery petals flutter onto the grass. The roses are past their best after a long hot summer so I make a mental note to return in June next year for the rose festival. The historic walled garden with its sharply clipped hedges offers shady seating areas and we sit awhile tuning in to the gentle hum of the bees as they enjoy the alliums.
The walled garden at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex is another beautifully planted garden.
Hot Herbaceous Borders
It’s July but the gardens at Pashley offer colour all year round. Moving away from the house we leave the historic, listed walled garden through two huge wooden gates and discover vibrant herbaceous borders overflowing with colour and with vistas of fine Sussex countryside.
Hot red penstemon, orange dahlias and buttery coloured lilies are set against textured foliage and structured planting in the hot herbaceous borders.
Wildlife at Pashley Manor Gardens
There’s much to see in the garden; ancient trees, woodland groves, bee hives, fountains, bridges and ponds. We watch as a mother duck leads her raft of quivering ducklings into the pond. They each hesitate in turn before making the jump down into the water.
More ducks shelter from the sun beneath the boughs of a shady tree and the vocal black swan caused more than a few ripples in the upper pond.
The Boleyn Family at Pashely
It’s believed that Pashley Manor was owned by the Boleyn family and used as a hunting lodge. A sculpture of Anne Boleyn by renowned Sussex artist Philip Jackson quietly observes the gardens from a small moated island.
The Garden Room Cafe
The terrace at the back of the house is home to the garden room café. Stay a while and enjoy excellent homemade food sourced from the kitchen garden with dreamy views across the grounds. The Sussex Pass in nearby Wadhurst comes highly recommended if you’re looking for a more substantial meal.
The Seasons at Pashley Manor Gardens
Pashley Manor Gardens are open from April to September. Visit in mid to late April for the bluebell walk and early May for tulip festival with the stunning sight of over 35,000 colourful blooms. Depending on the weather the two sometimes coincide followed closely by the Wisteria.
Early June welcomes the rose festival. The gift shop sells homegrown, homemade jellies and sauces along with a range of gardening inspired gifts and plant sales.
If you’re looking for stunning autumn foliage then a visit to Sheffield Park Gardens is recommended.
A few hours at Pashley Manor Gardens is good for the soul. Take time to enjoy the beautiful planting, wildlife, botanical art and the peace and tranquillity of an English country garden. Read this post to discover more beautiful gardens in Sussex.
Visiting Pashley Manor Gardens
Opening times: 1 April – 30 September, Tuesday to Saturday, Bank Holiday Mondays and special event days. The gardens are closed on Good Friday. 10am – 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Tickets: Entry is £11.50 per adult, £5 per child (6 to 16 years), under 6 free. Numbers will be limited and there is no pre-booking. No dogs are allowed in the gardens (except assistance dogs) but they may be walked in the car park field.
Parking: On-site parking in the field opposite the house and gardens.
Facilities: There is an on-site café (last orders at 4pm) and gift shop (open 11am – 4.30pm) and toilets which are cleaned regularly. Picnics are only allowed in the car park field where tables are available.
Getting to Pashley Manor Gardens
The gardens are located on the B2099 between the A21 and Ticehurst village. There are brown tourist signs en route. The address is Pashely Manor Gardens, Ticehurst, near Wadhurst, East Sussex, TN5 7HE
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Suzanne Jones is co-founder of Hello Sussex and travel writer and content creator at The Travelbunny travel blog.