Visit the fabulous gardens at Chainhurst

PUBLISHED: 15:27 25 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:25 20 February 2013

Visit the fabulous gardens at Chainhurst

Visit the fabulous gardens at Chainhurst

Summer is here and many villages across Kent are opening their garden gates to visitors. After the success of their inaugural event last year, the gardeners of Chainhurst are welcoming the public again this month

Beyond the garden gate

Summer is here and many villages across Kent are opening their garden gates to visitors. After the success of their inaugural event last year, the gardeners of Chainhurst are welcoming the public again this month

Ever wondered as you enjoy wandering around a pretty group of village gardens on their open day, with sunlight dancing on shimmering flowers or sat over a cup of tea and a home-made scone, looking over the quintessential English scene, how they all come about? Heres just one example of behind the scenes of a village open day.

A chance conversation between Rosemary Turnbull and her neighbour sparked the idea for a Garden Safari in their village of Chainhurst, a picturesque hamlet of houses that mostly spreads out from a one-mile stretch along Hunton Road near Marden.

We were complaining over the fence about the amount of time we spent in our garden and it was suggested that actually we could do some good from our efforts if we opened the gardens for charity, says Rosemary.

A few of us then got together to discuss if this was something we could really do and so we set up the inevitable committee and started the ball rolling with a flyer round the villages 107 houses to see what sort of response there would be.

The response was certainly enthusiastic and 18 gardens signed up, with the Mid Kent Breast Cancer Appeal, started by Chainhurst residents Peter and Sue Jones, who run the breast cancer unit at Maidstone hospital, as their chosen charity.

Assigning responsibilities for catering, co-ordination of the gardens, publicity, art work, parking and a treasurer. Followed and the committee also decided to produce a calendar of the gardens to sell on the open day.

We followed our noses really as one thing led to another and in the end the whole event was much bigger than we had ever initially anticipated, adds Rosemary.

Fortunately they had an added advantage that three of the gardens open through the National Gardens Scheme and were able to share their experience of opening to the public.

On the open day everything worked really well, was enjoyed by both owners and more than 200 visitors, while around 3,000 was raised. A bi-product of the day was bringing the community together as many of the villagers had never met - they even have a regular coffee morning now to stay in touch.

The Safari was a wonderful day, we were blessed with gorgeous weather and at the end we gathered to celebrate. There was a good deal of backslapping and congratulatory noises, but generally there was a wonderful sense of community and wellbeing, which has continued, says Rosemary.

It has made our community a much friendlier place it takes longer to go for a walk now because there are so many people to stop and chat to!

The Chainhurst Garden Safari this June will offer visitors around 20 gardens to explore over two days. The range is wonderful from a tiny courtyard packed with effervescent flowers, through cottage gardens, our Kent Life Garden of the Year 2011 winners inspiring garden, tranquil water gardens, wildlife gardens, vegetable gardens, a large formal garden, to a walk in the tree tops and a wildflower farm meadow.

Being June, expect roses, irises, clematis, shady arbours and the countryside arguably at its prettiest. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the array of refreshments set up under the trees at Dairy Lane Farm and you can even take home some plants from the plant stall.


Chainhurst Garden Safari, TN12

Sat 9, Sun 10 June, 11am-5pm

5 entry to all gardens per day, children free

Last tickets sold at 4pm

Refreshments and plant sales

Calling all village gardeners - if you havent already entered our Kent Life Garden Competition theres still time if you are quick to enter!

Rosemarys tips for a village safari

  • Get as many people involved as possible, on what ever level they feel they want to

  • You may be surprised what resources or expertise are available in a small community

  • Remember constantly that the whole thing is meant to be enjoyable so not to get too tied up in regulations and procedures

  • Start organising early

  • Delegate different responsibilities early on

  • The week before the safari we all opened our gardens to each other so that everyone had a chance to see what the other gardens were like. This was particularly successful because it gave us the chance to get together, look around and meet each other

  • Have a debrief after the event


  • Chiddingstone Garden Tour Sun 10 June, 2pm-6pm

28th anniversary of this event, proceeds to Chiddingstone churches,

wide variety of gardens rarely open to the public

6, children free, tickets from Chiddingstone Village and Causeway Stores

  • Shoreham Garden Safari Sat 16, Sun 17 June, 11am-5pm

Gardens include cottage gardens, an old walled garden, a boathouse and a vineyard, 8, children free

Action plan for June

Jobs to be done

  • Add some garden lighting to give atmosphere to outdoor summer dining

  • Fill any gaps in the borders with annual bedding

  • Add some nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies

  • Deadhead roses, delphiniums and lupins to encourage a second flush

  • Keep an eye out for pests, net strawberries and other soft fruit

Plant of the month

Rose Summer Wine

  • modern, large-flowered climber

  • fragrant, semi-double, coral-pink blooms

  • repeatflowering, vigorous, upright plant

  • excellent for pillars, tripods, arches and pergolas

Growing notes

  • open, sunny position

  • fertile soil with plenty of well-rotted organic matter

  • feed with balanced fertiliser in spring

  • mulch with organic matter

  • deadhead to encourage most flowers

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