Gardening - A woodland haven in Arundel

In the second of our visits to gardens opened as part of the National Gardens Scheme, Leigh Clapp takes us to a glorious glade near Arundel

ELIZABETH and Mike Gammon have created a gladed woodland haven in their third-of-an-acre garden, backed on three sides by woods, on the edge of Arundel. Meandering paths lead through dense layered plantings, from mature trees and shrubs to more ephemeral swathes of groundcovers.

There are seats dotted throughout from where to enjoy pretty vignettes and secluded corners to discover.  Spring is given priority with an emphasis on peak blooms at this time from bulbs, perennials and trailing clematis. Elizabeth is the visionary with an artistic flower-arranger’s eye and wide plant knowledge.

She explains: “Spring in the woodland area is a delight, no particular colour scheme, although with camassias, bluebells and forget-me-nots blue is predominant with the contrast of the varied coloured azaleas that grow more beautiful each year.” Elizabeth says the silver birch and the paths, relaid each year with woodchips, help to build a sense of peace.

“The rest of the garden is colour-themed as much as I can manage,” she says, “mainly white in the front set off by the silver stachys creating a calm ending to the road end. The side borders have plenty of sun, one is predominantly blue and yellow, a combination that works well, and the other has pinks and reds. Although I strive for a peaceful effect we do seek for some ‘wow’ effects for our National Gardens Scheme opening.”

Mike describes himself as the pruner, mower and hedge trimmer. “I bow to Elizabeth as Head Gardener, she has far more expertise and experience and perhaps of more importance, she does far more of the work,” he says.

“I do the male’s usual jobs, but I also have two other roles. The first is a pleasure – to look after our growing collection of clematis, over a hundred including a dozen montanas which should be flowering for the open days. When I wander the garden secateurs or wine glass in hand these get my primary attention – in fact I am sometimes reminded there are other plants in the garden! “

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He says the second is a never ending fight to keep the surrounding woodland at bay. Without it all the light would be lost.

Opening times

4 Birch Close, Arundel

Sun 2, Mon 3 May (2pm to 5pm)

Visitors also welcome by appointment May and July

Tel: 01903 882722

The National Gardens Scheme

How to find it

Follow the A27 into Arundel until you reach the roundabout at its junction with the A284.  From that roundabout, take the exit for Ford/Climping, turn right at Torton Hill Road, take a slight right onto Dalloway Road and then take the second left onto Birch Close. Number 4 is on the left.

Satnav: BN18 9HN

Plant of the month

compact deciduous shrubdark pink bloomsprolific bloomerglossy leaves

Growing notes

hardygood for small gardenswell-drained fertile, acid to neutral soilsunny, sheltered positionprune lightly in summermulch in early spring

Veg out

Continue outside sowing of broad beans, mangetout, beetroot, lettuce, carrots, Swiss chard, parsley, peas, spinach and herbs. Plant asparagus crowns and onion sets. Plant out second-early potatoes early April and maincrop varieties end April. Feed strawberries, fruit bushes and trees.

Ongoing showcase

For a continuous display of flowers this summer, annuals can be sown now, such as petunias, lobelia, nasturtium, limnanthes and lobularia. Divide clumps of perennials to propagate. Plant delphiniums and other perennials for cut flowers. Put supports in place ready for plants to grow through.

Spring trim

Many shrubs will benefit from a trim to shape and encourage new growth. Hard prune cotinus, buddleja and other fast growing shrubs that flower on new wood. Prune spring flowering shrubs after flowering. Trim winter-flowering jasmine. Cut back dogwoods and willows to base.

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