Nation’s Passion for Gardening Celebrated at Parham

A garden view at Parham
A garden view at Parham

Parham’s Garden Weekend is celebrating its 25th anniversary this coming weekend.

For me this quintessential celebration of our passion for gardening is one of the highlights of the Sussex summer calendar, thanks to Parham’s long gardening tradition and the national reputation of Head Gardener, Tom Brown.

Over the course of the weekend there will be garden tours, talks and demonstrations from leading experts. The Secrets of Head Gardeners session will be a particular highlight with the South’s most celebrated Head Gardeners including Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter, Troy Scott Smith from Sissinghurst, Sarah Wain from West Dean and Parham’s Tom Brown in conversation.

It’s a measure of Tom Brown’s reputation that many of the country’s leading horticulturalists, gardeners and designers choose to congregate at Parham for the Garden Weekend year after year.

Alongside all these events visitors will discover some of our leading nurseries.
It is the relational quality of this festival of gardening which never fails to delight me – passionate and knowledgeable people coming together at Parham to share their experiences and love of gardening.

Tom Brown, his garden team and volunteers, will once again be out in force to offer advice and to interpret the garden for visitors. It is rare for the public to have such unmediated, direct access to horticulturalists of this calibre.

The gardens themselves are exquisite. The swathes of summer flowers seem to dance in the gentle breeze framing the garden’s paths. I love the stillness that gathers you in the walled gardens at Parham. It transports you, separating you from the busyness of life. To create a garden of this subtlety, depth and beauty requires a sensitivity to place, light, the elements and the seasons.

A dog’s eye view of Parham’s celebration of gardening

Sheltered by the warm hues of the old brick garden walls covered in lichen these gardens have a remarkable ability to gather and engage people. Families find a gentle place to wander in conversation, their time in the garden informed by the beauty around them. Keen horticulturists will pause to explore the subtleties and effects of the planting, colour and compositions before them. But whatever your approach you cannot fail to walk in this beautiful place without being moved by it.

This generous and outward facing spirit pervades all that Parham does and at the heart of it are Lady Emma Barnard and her husband James who, together with their sons, bring such life and vitality to this timeless place. Their patronage and stewardship blesses us all.

I am looking forward to Parham House and Garden’s ‘25th Anniversary Garden Weekend’ this coming Saturday and Sunday, 7th and 8th July 2017, 10.30am to 5.00pm. For more information go to or telephone 01903 742021. I look forward to seeing you there!

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.