As autumn approaches the change of season always seems to bring a burst of golden light and where better to enjoy this than Borde Hill gardens.
This week I am in the generous company of Borde Hill’s current custodians, Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke and his wife Eleni.
The gardens at Borde Hill were first laid out by Andrewjohn’s great grandfather, Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke. He purchased the house and land in 1893. Between 1893 and 1937 he sponsored many of the Great Plant Collectors’ expeditions. They returned with rare specimens brought back from their travels in the Himalayas, China, Burma, Tasmania and the Andes. Many of these plant species are still at the heart of the collection which make up the seventeen acres of formal gardens.
This spirit of adventure is still apparent today. Eleni, a geologist and trained horticulturalist, admits that it is the gardens which most inspire her. She says “This has always been an experimental garden, a place to try new plants. Borde Hill is constantly changing and looking to the future.”
We walk out into the gardens in search of Head of Horticulture at Borde Hill Garden and Parkland, Harry Baldwin, and find him tending a border filled with vibrant colour, texture and movement. His enthusiasm for the collection and gardens is infectious. He and his team are busily preparing for a series of autumn events.
This coming Saturday morning, 8th October, Sussex Forager Sarah Watson will lead a guided woodland foraging walk through Borde Hill’s Warren Wood so you can find out how to use autumnal shoots, roots, seeds and fruits as flavourings in your dishes and drinks; and how to forage responsibly and safely, identifying edible plants and fungi. Sarah will also be giving tips on how to use foraged fare in delicious recipes, as well as a chance to try some wild preserves like vinegars and syrups.
Half-term at Borde Hill provides a week of activities centred on Halloween with trails, prizes and adventure for budding young Ghost Hunters and their families. The Ghost Hunters will have to answer riddles, solve clues and navigate ghost ships as fast as they can to solve the secret of the hauntings for poor Sir Haunt-A-Lot and Miss Crimson Nightshade in her mysterious library! And if your little Ghost Hunters still have energy to spare after that then there’s always the Adventure Playground and the Gardener’s Retreat Café with its autumn treats.
To find out more and to book your tickets visit www.bordehill.co.uk/events.