Garden of the month: Yew Tree Cottage in Penshurst

PUBLISHED: 12:20 17 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:20 17 January 2015

Yew Tree Cottage, Penshurst

Yew Tree Cottage, Penshurst


Enjoy the subtle beauty of snowdrops and hellebores emerging at Pam Tuppen’s lovely garden, a sure sign that spring is on its way

A sure sign that spring is on 
its way is the sight of tiny snowdrops emerging from the undergrowth. From January to March these hardy beauties create drifts of snow-white blooms under trees and on grassy banks.

Adding splashes of colour are the nodding heads of dainty hellebores 
in crimsons, pinks and white, their 
pretty little faces just asking to be 
upturned and admired.

Pam Tuppen has been gardening at her home Yew Tree Cottage in Penshurst for around 30 years.

Having always gardened and been 
out in the garden every day, even at 83, 
it's clearly a heartfelt joy that continues 
to fill her with enthusiasm for the beauty 
of flowers, plants and wildlife.

“I would say the garden is a natural cottage style, quite billowy and all 
mixed up together,” she says.

Planted for all-season interest, from 
the earliest bulbs and primroses through the abundance of summer to the quietness of winter, there is always something 
lovely to look at in this garden.

Over time Pam and her late husband together transformed the south-facing sloping site by terracing with rockeries 
on three levels, planting densely and creating little hidden nooks.

They dug out the bank by the back of the house to form a small courtyard. Paved with cobblestones that Pam salvaged from Covent Garden and adorned with seasonal pots and with furniture painted in a striking blue, it is favourite suntrap for sitting out even in the winter months.

The planting evolved as the garden 
took form, keeping it more formal by 
the house and wilder away from the cottage, making the plot of under a 
quarter of an acre feel larger than it is.

There is a sense of seclusion with the canopy of now-mature trees, including a large walnut and a pretty pink Prunus subhirtella, arches adorned with 
vines, intimate paths and the mix 
of old-fashioned and unusual varieties 
of plants that happen naturally as 
the seasons evolve.

Pam opens the garden through the National Gardens Scheme and also for 
the Kent charity Hospice in the Weald on selected days through the garden season.

In February visitors eager to be out 
and about after winter enjoy the drifts 
of snowdrops, clumps of vibrant crocuses, sunshine yellow aconites, dainty hellebores and subtle primroses.

The snowdrops are an eclectic mix of 
the common Galanthus nivalis with some more special varieties mixed in.

“Having a good patch of snowdrops in spring is marvellous. If people are starting off, always try singles and doubles that 
are more economical and multiply quickly to make a wonderful show,” she advises.

Elegant hellebores are scattered in beds through the garden. “I have lots and lots 
of Helleborus orientalis hybrids. There are creams, white, pinks, dark purples and mixtures with red eyes and spots that 
the bees have cross-pollinated.

“They don’t have names, seedlings just pop up now and I replant them. If I see something interesting at a nursery I may buy it and add to the collection,” she says.

An added bonus to your visit is that 
Pam grows many of the plants from seed and pots on plants for sale to raise money for charity, so you can take a little piece of her charming garden home with you. n


Yew Tree Cottage, Penshurst TN11 8AD

22 and 25 February (12pm-5pm)

Second and fourth Wed and Sun, March through to September

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