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Denmans Gardens, Fontwell, West Sussex

52 comments


This is a beautiful four acre garden owned by Michael Neve and John Brookes MBE, landscape designer and writer. The entrance to Denmans gardens is through what was a farmyard; the Garden Cafe, until 1986, being the cowhouse to a working farm.
Plants are grown on a light, well drained gravelly soil at the foot of the chalk downlands to the north.
Old fashioned roses, perennials and herbs in a glorious disarray – foliage colour being as important as flower colour.
The old flint walls provide further shelter to an already favoured part of the country, the effect is quite stunning. The layout is such that visitors are able to enter the plant area and cafe only, without paying entry to the gardens. It appears, on the Sunday we visited, that many people went there for coffee or lunch only.
We ambled through the fantastic plant sales area, beautifully laid out in a ‘non-garden centre’ style!

As we walked around, we saw many stunning items of stoneware, bronze and other metals, way out of our price range though

The grass is cut to different lengths, the rougher grass has bulbs and wild flowers in it in spring and is mown about once a month with a rotary mower. The rest of the grass is cut by a cylinder mower each week.

A large pool sits at the bottom of the garden with wild planting beyond and at the sides.

These are Petasites japonicus (Sweet coltsfoot) and I must thank Andrewr for the I.D. on them. They’re growing in damp, mossy gravel and grass

These are some of the trees we saw on our walk through the gardens

Now for some Spring blooms, sculptures and statues

Heading through the gardens towards the circular pond and the unheated conservatory

Meandering back around the gardens to the exit, gift shop and plant sales area now

I loved these dogs … incredible detail on them

Not much further to walk … can smell the coffee … need to see the plant centre first

Now, which one of these is paying for the coffees?

Hope you enjoyed Denmans Gardens.

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Comments

 

It looks an interesting place Shirley. I have heard of it but never been there. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed it.

22 Mar, 2011

 

that was a lovely trip ~ thanks shirley! i really liked the statue of the boy ~ the one in the evergreen. some lovely plants and views ~ im going to have my coffee now ~ but im not sitting next to a pixie!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

What a fantastic Blog, I really enjoyed it, felt like I had been there for hours, thanks Shirley its brilliant, by the way, which of the two did pay for the coffee.

22 Mar, 2011

 

Lovely blog, really enjoyed that walk through the gardens. Oh to be rich and be able to buy some of those sculptures not greedy a couple would do for me. The young boy on the plinth and the pixie would do me nicely.

22 Mar, 2011

 

Pleased you enjoyed the walk, Cinders : o )) ...... I agree with you on the statue of the boy, Sticki, also liked the one looking across the pond : o )) .... Can you believe I paid for the coffees, Yorkshire, which cost £4.50 for 2 Lattes! Taking the mickey or what? And they were push-button machine ones. Dread to think how much their lunches cost! : o ((( ..... Oliveoil, most of the statues were priced up in the high hundreds so we didn't bother to buy one ... lol! : o ))

22 Mar, 2011

 

thats just not on paying for the coffee's we paid £9 for two coffees and a cup of tea last week when we went down south,yours was cheap compared to ours, yer, he was certainly taking the Micky out of you Shirley, stop it out of his pocket money, Lol

22 Mar, 2011

 

Ah, he did pay the entry fee of £4.95 though as we had a BOGOF coupon from the paper! £9 for three drinks is outrageous, I hope the cups were huge ..........

22 Mar, 2011

 

O.K lets forgive him then, I do like a BOGOF, our coffee's no not big, just an ordinary sizes mug, and a tea cup,plus we had two toasted tea cakes, they were £5, I nearly had a FIT, £14 in all,

22 Mar, 2011

 

Where on earth did you go? The Ritz ......

22 Mar, 2011

 

No would have been cheaper, the water park just outside swindon,

22 Mar, 2011

 

Fantastic blog Shirleyt..lovely plant centre, but hope the plants weren't on the similar level as the statues price wise! Guess they could be £10+ if that was the price of coffee!
We are getting so mean these days that if we want a savoury and a sweet, we buy one each and cut them in half!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

Righ then, Yorkshire, made a mental note never to go there for a cuppa! : o )

Tet, the plants were actually very good prices, I'm all 'spent out' for a while though, so no purchases for me. : o (( I like your idea of half and half! We usd to stop off at Little Chef on long journeys down to the West country, years ago, now we call it Little Thief, as they over charge for food and drink. (Hope I don't get flagged for that!) lol!

22 Mar, 2011

 

I shouldv'e thought that they needed flagging!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

what a lovely place shirley.... love the dragon... great pics as well....

22 Mar, 2011

 

Thanks, Holly. I believe the dragon would set you back about £800!

22 Mar, 2011

 

great blog Shirley,looks like a nice place to visit..when i win the lotto i would like to buy the lion for the allotment lol..we went to bury last week & called in a tea room in the main shopping area..2 ever so thin cheese & tom toasties with a little salad & 2 lattes £19.50..OH paid & was fuming..i said "well it has got award winning up on the wall" cant tell you what he replied.. adding who wants 2 grapes a slice of orange & a strawberry on a salad.lol

22 Mar, 2011

 

That was an interesting place to see. Some of the statues are very nice, and I'm glad you had a nice time. ( but oh dear, I really don't like those pixies. They are so creepy :O They give me the
eebie-jeebies )

22 Mar, 2011

 

Thanks for a wonderful blog!
I love that mowing and those bronzes, the little boy especially.
As for overpriced coffee, Mrs Yorkshire.....I would have given you coffee for free!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

Lovely blog Shirley.I would love to go there sometime.The sculptures are so well done..I really like them all except the pixie..although the one sitting next to him,looks so lifelike..!! Lol.Can't believe how you got ripped off with the coffees,I think they all seem to be trying it on,these days..
The gardens are beautiful too..

22 Mar, 2011

 

i think we are missing out on an opportunity - we could be serving the coffee for half the price and still make a profit - now is the kettle on? and about those cakes? if we made one each there would be a very good variety! GoY cakes and coffee!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

No one seems to like pixies!!
But what part of the country would we make the coffee in Sticki! We Goyers could do so much throughout the country!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

Thanks for the visist. i haven't been to Denman's for many years but I think I ought to visit again after seeing your pictures.
The 'mystery' plant is petasites japonicus, a moisture loving perennial, spreading by rhizomes and invasive

22 Mar, 2011

 

Hi Shirley, we poped over there in Jan 2011 as we had a voucher from the paper.
Gardens were fantastic even then, tea room was great. We had a cake and a coffee, but we wished we had ordered a meal as there were plenty of people having these huge dinners and I think it wasnt to much more than what we had paid.

The bonus for me was that I bought to of Mr John Brookes books and he was there so I had a chat with him and he signed them for me.

Great garden lots of ideas and inspiration.

22 Mar, 2011

 

That was really lovely, Shirley - thank you! I'd heard of Denmans, but didn't think I'd been (ditzy or what), but many years ago I did a short gardening course at West Dean, and we were taken out to "Architectural Plants" (wonderful nursery), plus John Brooke's own garden, which was looking a big neglected and certainly didn't have a Garden Centre . . . so that couldn't have been Denmans, could it???

I'm blushing now because I seem to have copies of most of those books that are on display (oh yes, OBVIOUSLY I collect gardening books!!).

22 Mar, 2011

 

Joan, whatever must foreign tourists think of the UK prices? No wonder the Americans aren't over here as often now! ...... Oh, Hywel, nobody seems to like the Pixies : o (( ...... I thought the bronzes would take your eye, Lulu! ...... Thanks for the ID, Andrew, another plant I've never come across before! Perhaps early Summer would be a good time to visit Denmans again? ...... Sandra, I think we'll go back in the Summer as it will look so different then : o )) ...... Well done on getting signed copies, Trees! We visited a few years ago, in Winter and saw this scruffy man cutting stems and gathering seedheads, thought he was a gardener, well he was, it was John Brookes MBE! He said 'Good Morning' and asked if we had any questions. ...... Sheila, he does live 'on site' and has his own corner where he can potter about and leave a bit messy if he likes! lol :o ))

22 Mar, 2011

 

Oh Lordy, I did that with The Duke of Beauford, asked him if he lived near here, well he only owns most of it......ooops!

22 Mar, 2011

 

fantastic place shirley and love the layout, i just love the bronze statues and figures, amazing, lovely photos to, bet you had a fab time, :o))
love the pixies by the way

22 Mar, 2011

 

Oh good, someone else who likes pixies, one of my nicknames is...Lulubelle fifitrixiebelle pixie!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

Hooray! I'm so pleased you like the Pixies, San, nobody else seems to! lol The bronze dogs were amazing, the detail just doesn't show up on a photo.

LOL, Lulu, well, we're all human, never mind the title! You may regret telling all your nickname!! Our daughter worked, for a brief period, in the VIP Lounge at Gatwick Airport when she was a student and a man askd her where 'The little boys room' was! When she checked his name later, it was Michael Caine. She didn't recognise him, Brad Pitt wouldn't have escaped her attention though. : o ))

22 Mar, 2011

 

:o)) i do, i would love one but bet they are expensive shirley

22 Mar, 2011

 

I do like the bronzes Shirley, but not the
pixies :( They're creepy :(

22 Mar, 2011

 

You'd fall down if I told you most of the sculptures were up in the high hundreds San! : o ((( .... Lol, Hywel, no good you reading any Hobgoblin stories then! : o )))

22 Mar, 2011

 

you made me laugh lulu ~ im sure lord B wouldnt really mind ~ probably likes to go around unrecognised.
as to where to serve the coffee ~ we can have a chain of coffee serving outlets ~ all round the country!!!

22 Mar, 2011

 

Well, I'm glad you've put me straight, Shirley (I think my nickname should be muddlehead). The gardens look very different from my visit - much improved, but funnily enough I did recognise the seated boy (next to the pond in your picture . . . he used to sit in a gravel bed). Maybe I'll visit Sussex again one fine day!

22 Mar, 2011

 

wow a bit out of my price range shirley :o(

22 Mar, 2011

 

What lovely gardens - I've never heard of these before and unfortunately they are a bit far for me to go, but your pictures have certainly given us a taster of what it is like. The plants are gorgeous and so are the sculptures - I especially like the elf reading on the bench, but the others are magnificant too.

If I am ever in that part of the country I shall certainly have it on my list of places to visit.

22 Mar, 2011

 

That was a nice walk round there Shirley, thank you, I love the sculpture of the boy with crossed legs and the one sitting by the pond, lovely. But I suppose too expensive to buy!

23 Mar, 2011

 

Sheila, that little boy must have got up and walked in the night then! : o ) .... Yes, San, so very expensive. : o (( .... Marie, it's next to Fontwell Race course so you could have a bet before the garden visit! lol ..... Gm, I imagine the rich and famous would be the ones buying these wonderful pieces of sculpture. That's me out of the frame then .. lol!

23 Mar, 2011

 

Good blog. Lots of lovely pics :o))

23 Mar, 2011

 

Not bad planting for end of March is it, Terra? We'll return in the Summer when it will have a totally different look. : o ))

23 Mar, 2011

 

Stranger things have happened, Shirley, lol. When we were there all those years ago, the stones appeared to represent a dry stream . . . and now they've made a proper pond which was perhaps how it was always supposed to be.

23 Mar, 2011

 

It will be interesting to see the gardens in a different season...

23 Mar, 2011

 

Sheila, you certainly aren't a 'Muddlehead' as I've just read this in the Denmans guide pamphlet: A dry gavel stream runs down to a natural pool. The stream bed allows for more random planting in it, simulating what might really grow in such a spot, for no water runs here. So, consider yourself correct ... lol! : o )))

24 Mar, 2011

 

Cheers, Shirley! :))

24 Mar, 2011

 

You're welcome, Sheila. Mind you, I can't type today as just noticed I put gavel instead of gravel ..........

24 Mar, 2011

 

. . . and I didn't notice! Apparently if you typ wrds wtht thr vwls, ts stll pssbl t rd wht yr crrspndnt sys!!!

24 Mar, 2011

 

LOL! So it is .......

24 Mar, 2011

 

owww i will have a couple of them then....lol

25 Mar, 2011

 

i went here today with my father and grandma. For the price i found the gardens horrendous the plating seem very delepadated with too much gravle and not much interest . The water features were filthy i know and understand natural is beter than looking pretty but these were horendous. Also for the size of the place i think the price is outrageous even with my nan with us who doesnt walk fast it only took us about 20-30 mins to walk through as there was realy much to look at.

On the positive the garden centre part of it was quite good with unusual garden object and plants to buy but pricing structure seem to be quite varied and odd..

Also then we went for a drink where i thought the prices were very high.

All in all i would not pay to get into the garden again i might go back to the garden shop if i was looking for established plants or unusual garden objects , i certainly would take my own drinks.

Also one final thing come on if your going to give concessions for the elderly make it a decent saving i think it was only about 20p

24 Apr, 2011

 

Shame you were disappointed ... did you let anyone working there know how you felt about the place? My OH and I went with a 'free entry for one offer', I agree the restaurant prices were high, but there were many people dining when we visited, even though we just had coffee outside! Perhaps a Summer visit would be better . . . .

24 Apr, 2011

 

Thanks for the message on my blog on Denman's. Looks like they have continued improving it and over a year later there is quite a difference. Glad I went in summer when everything was in full growth and got the full benefit. I have read reviews of it on other websites ( not GOY ) and some people were quite scathing but I couldn't see what they were talking about because I found it really interesting and attractive. I wondered if they were gardeners and were more interested in the price of the cafe's sandwiches and biscuits and the garden was just an afterthought.
Next time I am in that area I can see me being drawn back to it once again.

1 Aug, 2012

 

I am so surprised folk have not been impressed with Denmans as I have always found them to be full of interest all year round. I think quite a few go for coffee/lunch etc. without going into the gardens, a great shame methinks!

2 Aug, 2012

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