The vast gardens of Iden open up


On a sunny afternoon last weekend (June 11), great swathes of visitors found themselves walking miles to cover the ground between the beautiful open gardens of Iden. A total of 13 gardens had opened their doors, parking was conveniently situated in the middle of the village and the first garden many people found was right next door at Rogate. This seemed a civilised way to start a gentle stroll and many people decided to pop next door to the Elms, only two centimetres away according to the map. But alas! Few people read the small print and ended up walking half a mile, to arrive exhausted in this lovely spot. Fortunately the Elms was providing a lovely cream tea with scones and home made jam under a tree with softly drooping boughs.

The Danesbury dog is delighted with the attention

Refreshed, intrepid travellers set off again towards Burnt Oak Manor. Another few miles! Well not quite but it felt like this. We received a warm welcome from an elderly dog and a number of cats. At this point, many visitors realised that although they had successfully reached the furthest garden, they had still to walk all the way back to the village centre. So people started helping each other. People with cars offered lifts to pedestrians, who gratefully got in.

Back in the village centre, we headed up to Iden Cottage with its huge wildlife garden and beautiful vegetable patch, which included magnificent globe artichokes, grown exclusively for the bees to enjoy.

Then just up the road to the Iden Coach House which was full of excited children watching an immense steam railway operate throughout the perfectly manicured lawns. Complete with a viaduct, bridges, tunnels and a series of clean, beautiful and running trains, it was a poignant reminder of the golden age of the railways. The contrast with Southern is almost too painful to contemplate.

We ended our journey at Danesbury where beautiful old roses surrounded a colourful lawn. Around the side was a much bigger space, also imaginatively and immaculately maintained with views out across country.

The gardens were a surprise in terms of their size and variety as well as their sheer distance from each other. The event was designed to raise money for the repair and restoration of All Saints Church Iden and it achieved its goal with a record £2655 taken on the day.


Photos: Seana Lanigan

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