- May 8, 2019
- 2 min read
On 12th April I visited Denman's Garden in West Sussex with a group of friends from the U3A.
Denman's was home to landscape designer John Brookes from 1980 until his death last year. He is credited with being one of the first people to create gardens in a modernist style, putting the needs of its occupants at the core of his designs, a significant move away from earlier concepts of expensive and high maintenace grand gardens.
When he first moved into Denman's the garden was owned and designed by plantswoman Joyce Robinson. Over time he took over the maintenance and development of the garden, keeping as far as possible the original plantings but adding sweeping curves. While parts of the grass were mown, other parts were allowed to grow freely; he also added plantings of his own. Joyce had already started to use gravel in the garden, for example as a dry river bed, and John also favoured this material in town gardens, so he continued with this. He also completely redesigned the Walled Garden. The overall combination of garden areas, curves, gravel and planting come together in what he described as "controlled disarray."
Gardens evolve over time and Denman's is no exception. In 2016 John Brookes began to renovate parts of the garden and this work is still continuing.
A walk around the gardens can be completed in about an hour, but there are an excellent tea room, plant centre and shop on the site so allow time for a bite to eat and a good browse.
One feature of Denman's is that the plants are not labelled, allowing the visitor to view them as part of a garden rather than as specimens in their own right. As a result I am unsure of the names of many of these plants, so I am presenting them below as themed galleries without further explanation.