The thirteenth of June was a very lucky day, first it was gloriously sunny and needing a hat and suncream and second there were two fine gardens to visit in Pett. Opposite the village hall is Chris and Robin Hutt’s Fairlight End and a short stroll along the road is Libby and Tim Rothwell’s Breanross. Both were open for the National Gardens Scheme a national charity with hundreds of garden owners raising funds for a range of medical charities. Last year some £3 million pounds was donated. Included in the list were Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie and Hospice UK to name 3 out of fifteen.
It is impossible to grasp the scale of Fairlight End from the road and although the front is interesting with the steel retainer, the planting, and a stall with home propagated plants for sale, it isn’t until you emerge from the narrows past the house that the vista presents itself. The garden slopes steeply away from the house which is on the highest part and with the help of garden designer Ian Kitson and the use of locally made cortensteel the upper part has been terraced to make a large level grassed area perfect for the tables and chairs at which to sit and enjoy the refreshments in the sunshine and take in the sweep of garden and countryside beyond.
Chris has a study halfway down the slope near the house with access by some very steep steps flanked with shady subjects. Otherwise the slope is less severe with paths mowed through the grass whose cut will wait until after the wildflower seed has set and for June 13th this meant a carpet of ox-eye daisies studded with orchids A tour with a diversion to inspect the vegetables in their raised beds and greenhouse takes one to the upper spring fed pond fringed with rushes where one can listen to the loud calls of the Marshfrogs and overhead the twittering of the martins swooping off the neighbouring houses. The slope beyond the pond gives a vantage point to look back to the house sitting above this remarkable creation. Return past the lower pond gives upslope views of the meadow effect and returns one to the terrace for delicious refreshment served by a team of volunteers.
Leaving Fairlight End it is a short stroll along to Breanross where Libby has transformed a small steeply sloping south facing garden into a wondrous display. A series of terraces run across the garden creating level beds that are crammed full of a wide variety of plants from roses at the top to shade loving subjects at the bottom. In the middle is a wood framed greenhouse that exemplifies her careful and ordered approach to the whole. Unfortunately this short account does not do her work justice but this correspondent does not know this garden like he knows Chris’s and is writing from memory some time after the event.
Some 230 people took advantage of Chris’s garden so he was able to make a sizable donation to the NGS and to the village hall which supplied the parking space and toilet facilities. Libby’s numbers are not known but it would be easy to overwhelm her space so I hope that her great effort was well rewarded.
You can see details of Fairlight End at www.fairlightend.co.uk and find all you need to know about the National Garden Scheme and garden openings at www.ngs.org.uk