You may have heard of The Salutation in Sandwich because of its colourful previous owners who regularly featured on the tv show Gogglebox. It may have put you off visiting (or it may not) but the place is now under new ownership and is a super-elegant boutique hotel and restaurant (which is receiving rave reviews), a lovely tearooms and a glorious garden. You can visit the gardens, without staying at the hotel or partaking of food, for £8 (or £15 for a year’s subscription, which, frankly, is a bargain).
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, The Salutation was built in 1912 on the site of a market garden and pub. You can see the Lutyens influence in the way the gardens are laid out in distinct areas with clever sight-lines and pleasing symmetry, and hidden nooks and crannies. These days, the deep borders and beds are jam-packed with lush planting, crammed with unusual and exotic plants, perennials, grasses, annuals and fruit and veg, but the star plants at this time of year are the dahlias. Head gardener, Steve Edney, is a member of the RHS Dahlia Committee and it’s clear he knows his stuff. It’s the Salutation’s 8th Dahlia Festival this coming weekend and visitors are in for a treat – there are large planters of pristine dahlias, whole borders just of different varieties of dahlia, and large clumps of striking dahlias dotted here and there among other plants. They obviously have their slugs and snails well under control.
I had such a lovely time wandering around the garden soaking in the beauty of the place that I failed to make a note of the different dahlia varieties but I’m fairly sure that the striking, dark, star-shaped one above is ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’ (which is a fantastic name). As much as I love them, I have decided to give up on trying to grow dahlias for the time being – I just can’t be bothered with plants that require hyper-vigilance when it comes to pests. And now that I’ve found this local gallery of dahlia perfection, I am content to leave it to the experts and appreciate their efforts instead.
In other news… It was my younger son’s sixteenth birthday on Tuesday. Sixteen. How did that happen?! He’s grown from a sunny, yellow-haired poppet into a funny, mostly sunny (with occasional dark clouds), intelligent, kind, tall string bean who shares my appreciation of a tidy room, loves his Dad’s baking and is there with a hug if needed. Oh, and his cake of choice is coffee and walnut.
Hope all’s well with you and that you have a lovely weekend.