Stunning open gardens without crowds to mark 30th anniversary of British designers!

Ecclesden Manor in Sussex - open for  the Society of Garden Designers last weekend
Open gardens have become very popular in England and Wales, due to the success of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), which now boasts a portfolio of more than 3,700 gardens. But in reality, while the cause is more than worthy - because entrance fees are distributed to the various cancer-related charities supported by the NGS - some of the gardens are disappointing. Readers will know what I think of over-rated NGS gardens from previous posts! So imagine my delight when I encountered a new open-garden scheme last weekend, where the first garden I saw shot to the top of my "Best 10" this year!
You're met by swathes of lavender at the gate at Ecclesden
Ecclesden Manor in West Sussex is not just an astounding garden, but rarely opens its gates unless there's a worthy cause. It opens annually for the Lifeboat Charity (RNLI), to raise funds for the local lifeboat, but also opened for the first time this year for the Society of Garden Designers to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Sadly, I'm late flagging up this event for 2011 because I didn't know about it myself until last week. If I'd known sooner, I would have been on the trail in both May and June when more of the participating gardens opened their doors! Now I'll have to wait until September to see the wonderful gardens on offer. 
The water garden at Ecclesden, which reflects the house on a sunny day
The garden here was designed by John Brookes - well known English designer, who has his own garden near Chichester. I was lucky enough to meet John during my visit and will be going to see his garden and talk to him later in the week, so more on his ideas about design then. But Ecclesden is a truly charming plot and a fine example of maximising on the available space near the house, using classical gardening techniques, like the parterre with lavender and the impressive water garden (above), created in the style of 17th century Dutch gardens.
The garden here was designed over a five-year period and received the Sussex Heritage Trust Landscape Award in 2003 - an annual award scheme that seeks to recognise high-quality conservation and restoration projects in the county. Truly - a wonderful garden - and I'm glad that I made it last weekend!
**Also worth noting is the number of stunning gardens open next weekend (2nd and 3rd July) under the Garden Gadabout scheme, in support of the Sussex Beacon charity. This is a great chance to see private gardens in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas.


  1. Stunning! Thats all I can say ...

  2. Charlotte,
    Tx you so much for the ride! Its a wonderfull garden, and I love the fact that is an old fashion look garden but designed some years ago.
    The last picture with the little house and the patio furniture stole my heart!



  3. i found your blog from my mom's blog.
    how incredible this little heaven you have created to share with all of us.

    thank you

  4. wow...I lost my breath when I saw this. What an amazing garden. The green gardenhouse stole my heart completely.

    Love your great photos, thank you again Charlotte



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