They were originally created by William Robinson in 1885 and are now considered one of the most important historic gardens in England.
Robinson started life in Ireland in the poverty of the potato famine, where at an early age he trained as a garden boy. By the 1860s he had moved to London to work on the new botanic gardens in Regents Park, where he started his career as a garden writer. He produced huge amounts of work and set about re-shaping the way we think about gardens.
Some of his most influential books include The Wild Garden and The English Flower Garden, which remains the bestselling gardening book ever printed. He also ran several gardening journals such as The Garden and Garden Illustrated.
Today Robinson is best known for his concept of the wild garden, creating a landscape that celebrates nature rather than controls it. He also introduced the idea of the modern mixed border and popularised common place items such as secateurs and hose pipes. In many ways Robinson created modern gardening as we know it and is affectionately remembered as the Irishman who taught the English how to garden.
After a humble start in life, Robinson became very wealthy from his writing and in 1884 he bought Gravetye Manor. Over time he ended up owning over 1000 acres of the surrounding landscape and used his estate to put his ideas into practice. Much of the land was used for experimental forestry, and the results of his work continue to be managed today by the William Robinson Trust.
But in the heart of the estate, on 35 acres surrounding the manor, he created his masterpiece garden of which we are now custodians. This garden takes a lot of work, and despite everyone’s best efforts it had fallen into a state of decline when Mr and Mrs Hosking bought the manor in 2010. This resulted in a major renovation project, which continues today. With a team of eight full time gardeners we try and manage this historic garden progressively, in a way we hope that Robinson might be pleased. We regularly do Garden Tours, of which dates can be checked below.