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The Salutation's Secret Gardens in Sandwich

PUBLISHED: 18:25 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:14 20 February 2013

Vista down the double borders to the house

Vista down the double borders to the house

Discover the rare and recently restored Lutyens and Jekyll gem at The Salutation?s Secret Gardens in the lovely medieval town of Sandwich...

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich, surrounding a house designed and built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1912, had been hidden away from public view for nearly a quarter of a century and were almost lost forever. When Dominic and Stephanie Parker bought The Salutation in 2004, they eagerly took on the massive task of restoring both the house and the gardens.
"When we came in through the gates, we felt as if we had stumbled upon Miss Havisham's house from Great Expectations," says Dominic.
"Being completely surrounded by wall and fence and not overlooked at all, the gardens were a gem in suspended animation, heading for ruin"
Gardening enthusiasts will know that Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll collaborated on many projects, with Lutyens designing the houses and Jekyll the gardens. Unusually, here Lutyens designed the structure of the garden and it is believed that Jekyll supplied the planting plans.
With the help of head gardener, Steve Edney, the Parkers have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the original intention and feel of the garden. Through extensive research and using the original Lutyens plan, Steve has been able to restore and replant over a two-year period.
Restoration was challenging, as along with the neglected lawns and borders, around 70 per cent of the plant material had been lost from the 3.5 acre garden. Consideration also needed to be given to the aims of the family to be as organic and sustainable as possible, while also introducing new planting areas alongside traditional cottage garden ideas.
The garden is now restocked with both the expected favourites and some rare flowering trees. Areas are divided by hedges and structures to create a series of 'rooms' that include long borders, a kitchen garden, a rose and bowling lawn garden, a white garden and the spring garden. A small lake from the 1970s has been retained as it was felt important to include a place for wildlife and a tranquil area to sit.
The addition of a tropical border also departs from the original plan but, as Steve says: "Jekyll was always experimenting with unusual plants in her planting designs so we feel she would have approved. It also provides late-summer colour when other areas of the garden are starting to fade".
In autumn, highlights also include massed vibrant dahlias, asters, grasses and colouring foliage;


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