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The Knot Garden

Spring literally springs into life as the Knot Garden boasts a wonderful display of tulips. In summer, the two colour contrast is maintained using different planting schemes each year. The Giant Chessboard opposite the Knot Garden will entertain visitors of all ages.

The central pathway through the gardens leads along the Apostle Walk, bordered on each side by 12 drum yews, thought to have survived from the original planting in 1674.

The open door in the wall by the edge of the moat leads to The Secret Garden, a tiny hidden corner where the waters of the stream feed the moat. In spring, the pink blossom of the cherry tree overhangs the azaleas and late flowering snowdrop candelabra primulas. In late May the garden is garlanded with laburnum. On hot summer days, the deep shade and cooling waters make the Secret Garden a reflective oasis.

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden, sited in the corner of the gardens and reached by opening a thick wooden door, has recently benefitted from a renovation project which has seen extensive new planting which includes beautiful blue agapanthus, foxgloves and gazania. The streams which give the garden a cool feel, tumble down rocks into the moat, which surrounds the historic manor house. A bridge has also been restored and wooden seating added.

Many areas of the gardens have some interesting histories attached to them and the Secret Garden is no exception. Philip Packer, who was a courtier to Charles II and a friend to Christopher Wren, rebuilt Groombridge with Wren’s help in 1662 and it was here in the secret garden, said to be his favourite garden, that he died while reading a book in the sunshine on Christmas Eve in 1686.

Philip Packer also laid out the gardens surrounding Groombridge Place from 1674 with the help of horticulturalist and famous diarist John Evelyn who designed a series of formal gardens arranged as “outside rooms” of the house. The idea was to blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors, a theme which became popular again in the 20th century. Some of Evelyn’s garden rooms at Groombridge also pre-empted modern design in creating an artfully “natural” landscape. The Secret Garden is the best example.

The White Rose Garden

Commemorating the 200-year ownership of the estate by the Waller family, the White Rose Garden is a celebration of the art of planting in shades of white; featuring over 20 varieties of white rose. Other white-flowering plants provide season-long beauty, including foxtail lilies, primulas, tulips, peonies, poppies, hyacinths and lavender.

The Peacock Walk is planted with a variety of shrubs, including rhododendrons, viburnum, aucuba and azalea. The garden wall is a favourite roosting place for the Groombridge peacocks.

One of the garden highlights is the herbaceous border planted with clematis and a rich collection of traditional English perennials, including asters, cynara, rudbeckia, salvias and hollyhocks. In spring the focus is on tulips and primulas.

The Oriental Garden

Cross the top of the Nut Walk with its Kentish cob nut trees dating back to the 19th century and you will find yourself in the Oriental Garden. Abundant shade in the summer and stunning colours in the autumn are provided by the magnificent Japanese maples. Take a seat and enjoy the hot vibrant colours of the garden offset against the perfectly manicured lawn and unusual water fountain providing a restful background murmur.

The Drunken Garden

A much-loved and historic garden, immortalised in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1895 Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Valley of Fear. The garden is so called ‘Drunken’ due to its unusually shaped topiary, grown and bent into peculiar shapes, and believed by some to be reminiscent of ancient sages seeking great truths from unseen mentors. Watch time pass in this beautiful garden with its sundial-edged fountain and absorb the wisdom of the ancient trees.

Draughtsman’s Lawn

A white mulberry tree, planted in 1993 marks Groombridge’s connection with the smuggling trade. Early in the year there are spring bulbs and primroses, a beautiful magnolia stellata and a variety of azaleas. In summer the ornamental trees and shrubs provide a striking display of contrasting leaf colours, from deep copper to lime green.

Groombridge Estate Ventures Ltd
Groombridge Place, Groombridge Hill, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 9QG
Telephone: 01892 861444 | Email: office@groombridgeplace.com
Opening times:
We will close on 1 October and will reopen later in 2021
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