|Monks House - weekend retreat for Leonard and Virginia Woolf - open five days a week|
|Charleston where Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell lived|
Nearby Charleston was the one-time home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who were part of the Bohemian circle of writers and artists, collectively known as the Bloomsbury Group. It's a pretty farmhouse (above) sheltering beneath the South Downs and there are regular tours of the property for those interested in Vanessa's paintings. There is also a charming walled garden filled to bursting with densely-packed flower beds and a riot of colour. Now run by the Charleston Trust, the garden has been faithfully recreated to look like it did when Vanessa Bell lived here.
|The cottage garden adjacent to Monks House, filled to bursting with blousy perennials|
Monks House at nearby Rodmell, outside Lewes is a small cottage-style garden, with wonderful views of the South Downs and the Sussex flint church (below). This was a weekend retreat for Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard. And like Charleston, the charm of this garden is the dense planting and vibrant colour displays - every inch of ground in the garden close to the house is packed with stunning perennials that beg you to come back and look again and again, the orchard is filled with fruit trees and the potager where Leonard worked is flourishing.
|The orchard at Monks House, overlooked by a Sussex flint church|
Neither garden is large, but Arts and Crafts style planting ensures lots of visual delights, with blousy perennials packed tightly in the beds. Charleston is open on the same days as Monks House (Wednesday - Sunday 13.00-18.00) and although the house fills up with Bloomsbury Set admirers intent on catching a glimpse of their Bohemian lifestyle, the garden is rarely crowded and is well worth a visit. It's been faithfully restored to its former glory and is lovely on a summer's day, when you can sit and listen to the birds singing.
|The flint-walled garden at Charleston Farmhouse, former home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant|
|If the statues at Charleston could speak, they'd tell a story of days gone|