“So where are Ramster Gardens?” This is likely to be the response from most people when it is suggested that they deserve a visit. The simple answer is that if one heads down the A283 from Milford towards Petworth, passing through Chiddingfold, the gardens will be found about one kilometre before falling over the county boundary into Sussex.
Our intrepid group of Society members and their friends make this journey recently and braved a wet and miserable drive to do so. Was it worth it? Unquestionably! Everyone had a wonderful time wandering around this beautiful woodland garden and enjoying magnificent displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, acers and many other plants. Being a combination of glades, valleys and hidden corners, each section has its own microclimate. Thus we had plants which were flowering early, others which one would have expected to be well past their peak and a whole host of the unexpected. The weather may have been wet to start with but as the sun came out later in the morning, the colours really glowed.
Added to the plants were the superb sculptures – ranging from bronzes and stone structures to some superb wooden carvings. These included a family of hogs all carved from a single tree-trunk and a bench with the back carved as an owl in flight. As one of our group said on first seeing it – “Absolutely brilliant”.
For almost all the group this was a first time visit but for many it certainly won’t be the last. At least one couple signed up there and then for garden membership so that they could get a season ticket.
The “icing on the cake” – if you will excuse the pun – was the tearoom. Not only did it provide us with shelter on arrival but also enabled us to sample their tea and cakes. These cakes are wonderful and the tearoom (which is accessible without having to pay for garden entry) is worth a visit just to sample them.
Was it a success? Definitely. The gardens are also open briefly in the autumn to show off their autumn colours. We know that several of our group will be heading back then – if not before.