Kitchen Garden Extraordinaire
Last week we visited Fittleworth House near Pulborough by kind permission of the owners and were treated to a wonderful guided tour with head gardener Mark Saunders. Mark has been there for over 15 years and has been part of several significant transformations in the garden. The heart of the garden really does revolve around the one-acre walled kitchen garden, glasshouse and potting sheds. Thanks to Mark's meticulous planning and skill the kitchen garden is not only hugely productive but also a thing of beauty. Over the years, the centre herbaceous borders have evolved (and will continue to do so). They now have a fine display of herbaceous plants and vegetables. Dahlias are interspersed with triangles of salad leaves, onions or sweetcorn - all adding to its overall impression of order and colour. Heavy rain and cooler temperatures meant that some plants like the tomatoes and aubergines were struggling to put on growth relative to other years. Impressive by anyone's standards nonetheless!
The other highlight of our visit (apart from the friendly goats) was the small cascade, stream and its complementary planting. The stream was a new addition and helps transition from the formal garden to the paddocks and landscape beyond. Beautifully and sympathetically designed to provide not only that all attractive sound of running water but also to serve as a welcome home for wildlife. This aspect of the garden also benefits from some incredibly old and stunning mature trees including a 115 ft tall cedar which they believe was planted c1750. This combined with some lovely Prunus 'Tai-haku' and a Gingko bilabo create a wonderful backdrop.
The house itself is Grade II listed and clothed in wisteria with a front terrace lined with shrub roses, alchemilla and geraniums. The house lines up on an axis to a more formal parterre and then onto the walled kitchen garden.
Do visit if you can! The garden is open three times this year through the National Garden Scheme and well worth the trip if you are in the area. Visit https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/14546 for more information and to book a ticket.