Goddards Green Gardens: our Outing 18 May

Categories For Members, Outings
group of people at Goddards Green Gardens

Outings Officer Matilda Smith reports

On Saturday 18 May, a group of 20 LHS members set out on the first trip since before Covid! The group visited Goddards Green Garden, a beautiful garden of some five acres or so – including some wilderness and an orchard. The Wotton family now tend the gardens by themselves, having benefited from the help and expertise of Jacqui Harris-Jones (now retired), who worked previously with Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter.  

Arriving at the wonderful 17th century house, we were greeted by John and his family, who have lived there for the past 30 years. Originally the home of one of the principal clothier families of Cranbrook, the house is beautifully presented, and we were welcomed into the entrance hall before sitting down for tea and incredibly generous slices of delicious cake from the local farm shop made specially to order! 

After tea, we were guided around the garden by owner John, who spoke at length about the planting, and plans the family have to produce an ever richer display of beautiful flowers and shrubs year on year. The approach is a sensitive one, which uses as little intervention as possible. Ensuring good biodiversity is of special consideration. Although this is not audited, John assured us that there is a huge array of insect activity on a sunny day and plants which self-seed are often left undisturbed. Fertiliser is occasionally used in the vegetable crop. Otherwise the garden is free from pesticides and ‘nasties’. John was careful to refer to himself as an ‘amateur’ – although what his definition is, one can’t be sure. The garden was – as one visitor put it – “heavenly, with just the right amount of tidiness”. Visitors noted the flowers growing happily between the pretty cobbles. The Wottons use a meadow basis for their mowing, operating a ‘half – half’ approach in summer. 

The family has carefully curated a garden that is planted so that there is something of interest every day of the year. The huge variety of flowering shrubs were a highlight of the day – plush rhododendrons, camellias and magnolia scented the air and provided a beautiful display on a wonderfully sunny day. For my first trip as an LHS member and Outings Coordinator, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting. 

John opens his garden for groups of 10 – 40 by arrangement. This year the garden will open on two additional days to the public as part of the National Garden Scheme, to which all proceeds are donated. If you haven’t booked for one of the other outings we have planned for the year, either in person at the Hut or online via Eventbrite, then you are strongly encouraged to do so!

You need to be a member to book – and you can include family and friends for the same ticket price.