Visit to Wakehurst Place ('Kew in the country')

1st September 2007

cyclamen under treesUpon entering the garden via the Seed Shop and Café, we were greeted by a colourful display of thousands of pink cyclamen planted beneath the trees.
The gardens are horseshoe-shaped, encompassing private farmland. A marked, outer walking route of 2.3 miles takes you through dramatic changes in height, amounting to 225 feet between the main part of the gardens and the lake and wetlands area.
There is a wide selection of trees, some unusual, including oak, sorbus, rhododendrons, katsura, maples and pines. In the wooded areas, including a Himalayan glade and oak wood, several seating areas allow one to enjoy the fabulous vistas and the
acersThe gardens have several ponds, including one planted in Japanese style with some spectacular dissectum acers and iris.
Two walled gardens, skillfully planted with many unusual plants and colour-coordinated herbaceous borders, an Asian Heath Garden, Southern Hemisphere Garden and other areas complete the picture.
The futuristic Wellcome Trust Building holds the international seed bank. It is open to the public, who, on week days, can view work going on in the laboratories through the large windows that open onto the main display area.

In addition to the café, refreshments are available in the self-service Stables Gallery Restaurant. The food is good and reasonably priced, and can be enjoyed inside or, weather permitting, al fresco.

Altogether this was a most enjoyable day and the gardens are well worth a visit. Wakehurst Place is 5 miles north of Haywards Heath, on the B2028. It is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Botanic Garden Kew.

Text: Maureen Winkfield
Photos: Pat Leggett

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