Join our Dementia Friendly Gardening Group

Posted by editor on Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Garden House has joined with Brighton & Hove Food Partnership to support their Dementia Friendly Gardening Group.

Brighton & Hove Food Partnership is a non-profit organisation that helps people learn to cook, to eat a healthy diet, to grow their own food and to waste less food.

Their projects are funded by the NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group. All sessions are delivered by Food Partnership staff alongside trained volunteers. The sessions are suitable for those with mild to moderate dementia and carers are welcome to attend as well.

Read on to find out more, get details of how to book a space, or contact us with any questions.

Gardening groups

Gardening is a wonderful activity to help improve wellbeing, get outdoors and take time to notice nature. Our weekly sessions provide a gentle, regular activity with a friendly group and a chance to build confidence. There is lots of national evidence about the benefits of gardening for people with dementia.

When: Weekly Tuesday sessions for up to 3 months. The next groups run from 18th July to 17th October – including a morning group 10:30am-12pm and an afternoon group 2:30-4pm.

Where: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton, BN1 4NT (between London & Ditchling Road), accessed via a side gate. The Garden House is a beautiful walled garden which sits behind the houses on Warleigh Road, it has a heated room in which you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea. There is also a toilet and hand washing facilities. Please note the garden is a no-smoking zone.

Who are the activities suitable for?

  • People with a mild (and in some cases moderate) dementia diagnosis
  • We can only accept applications for gardening from people who have a good level of mobility (are able to walk unaided) due to the uneven nature of the ground and trip hazards.
  • Those who can attend regular weekly sessions.
  • Activities are adaptable to suit a wide range of abilities, and some participants may not need a carer present. Others may require additional support from their carer, please speak to us to find out more.
  • We welcome people with a passion for gardening or cookery but participants do not need to have any previous experience to enjoy the activities.

What previous participants and carers have said:

  • “I noticed an improvement since the beginning – she is more outgoing with other people and now initiates conversations… She is really happy there she loves it… It has really helped her with socialising.” (carer, gardening)
  • “I think it has been wonderful for me and we have made some good friends. Everyone has really gelled together and supported one another – we’ve had some great chats… Just being in the garden is wonderful.” (participant, gardening)

How much? Totally free. You just need to provide your own transport to get to the venue.

Booking a space: If you’d like to find out a bit more before applying please contact Sarah Davenport on or call 01273 431700. Feel free to contact Sarah with any questions or to book a place over the phone.






Garden House Charity Auction…

Posted by editor on Sunday, 16 July 2017

Visit the garden Sunday 23 July for our fantastic fund-raising event – this year we are raising money for local charity, Circles Network, Saturday Club. The club is a project providing short breaks for adults of all ages with learning disabilities or difficulties. Entirely self-funding, it has been supporting people in the Lewes District for over 25 years and now is open to a wide range of members needing different levels of support.

As usual, the Garden House will be holding an amazing auction (starts 3pm), with all proceeds going to the charity.

See below for a list of the Auction Lots up for grabs! If you can’t make it on the day but would like to bid on something, email us your bid by midnight on Saturday – .

We will also have a variety of stalls selling plants, garden-related items and crafts, and will be serving food all afternoon so drop in for lunch or for tea and a slice of homemade cake.

 Opening Time: 11-6pm.

Entrance: £2.50 / Children FREE

Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT

Please come along and support this very worthwhile charity.


  • 2 night stay in a lovely one bedroom flat in Vincent Square London (near Victoria Station and Embankment, and home of the Royal Horticultural Halls)
  • Summer’s not over – use of a beach hut for a weekend at Hove Lagoon – plus bottle of bubbly!
  • Use of a beach hut in Saltdean for a weekend – plus breakfast for 2 at Whitecliffs café
  • Lunch for two at Brighton’s delightful Café Rust
  • Bottle of single malt whisky (1993)
  • Tea and homemade cake at the lovely 1 Rose Cottage, Golden Cross (opens for NGS)
  • 2 tickets for Mamma Mia at the Brighton Centre on Tuesday August 15th
  • Get fit – 2 personal training sessions!
  • Start playing the piano – 1x piano lesson
  • Brush up your Spanish – 3x 30min conversation lessons
  • Brush up your German – 2x language lessons
  • 2 tickets for Alison Moyet at the Dome Wednesday 8th November (min £100)
  • Meal for 2 at Chin Chin, Brighton’s coolest Italian bar/restaurant
  • Meal for 2 at Rick Stein’s new restaurant in Barnes, London, plus a bottle of house wine
  • Glyndebourne performance of Don Pasquale – 2x good standing tickets
  • Visit the wonderful Sussex Prairies garden – 2x tickets with tea and cake
  • Garden House Friday Group – one morning’s gardening by around 20 keen gardeners! (one garden only, min £300)
  • 2 hours of pruning by an RHS level 2 qualified gardener
  • Get planting – box of herbaceous perennials
  • Ceramic platter-making workshop – 3x 2 hour sessions for 3 people with local ceramicist
  • Delightful framed watercolour print by local artist Mary Middleton
  • Beautiful hand-dyed silk scarf
  • After all that – unwind with a hot stone massage!

Garden House Trip to Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex

Posted by editor on Friday, 30 June 2017

Another great trip with The Garden House, this time to Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. First stop was in Suffolk at Wyken Vineyard and Restaurant. The gardens here lay around the lovely red-plastered house and unfolded lots of secrets. There was a relaxed atmosphere and we explored with the calls of peacocks and guinea fowl in the background. It was a hot, still day so the enclosed rose garden smelled gorgeous. The garden features were understated but intriguing; painted seats, unusual gates, and sculptures that we just sort of noticed rather than their being central to a display.

After lunch, we travelled on to our hotel just outside Norwich, which had a slightly neglected kitchen garden. Some people had rooms which let on to it, and some even did a spot of weeding!

The second day’s visits began at East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden with a talk and tour – of just some of what it has to offer – from one of the owners, Alan Gray. It has a familiar garden story – “originally developed from just a field” – but now East Ruston spreads over many acres with a profusion of everything: plants, colour, different planting habitats, structures, theatre, walls, water, and even alpacas. You think you’ve come back to that greenhouse you saw earlier, but no, it’s another one! Alan is clearly not afraid to change and move things that don’t work or have outgrown their places, and is still full of new ideas and plans. Despite covering such a big area and being so ambitious, it has a family feel with pet cats and dogs roaming, sitting areas galore, and a very welcoming staff team who provided us with homemade cheesy biscuits (recipe included) and later a lovely lunch.

Alan Gray of East Rushton Old Vicarage

Next stop was Crete Lodge, a secluded private garden recently filmed for Gardener’s World. On about an acre of sloping site and thin, well-drained soil, Melissa and Keith Scott have built a garden of contrast: shady jungle and arid gravel. Lots of surprise corners and mysterious paths, with walls and structures incorporating recycled materials creatively. And certainly plants that we didn’t expect to find outdoors in Norfolk, from banana palms to giant cacti.

On our third day we visited Bressingham Gardens, built up by the famous Bloom family, for a tour with the head gardener, Jaime Blake. The island beds full of beautifully labelled mostly herbaceous species and cultivars proved very helpful, as we could photograph plant plus label for a full visual reminder. Sadly there wasn’t enough time to see it all and we had just a quick glimpse of the second garden, Foggy Bottom, with its mature trees, dense planting, and more secluded feel. But there’s never enough time to take in everything and ask all the questions we would like on any garden visit.

We met up with Garden House regular, Simon White, at Peter Beale’s Roses, for another guided tour and a demonstration of rose pruning and care. The roses were at their romantic peak, with a Rose Festival taking place the day after we were there, and it was a great way to see, smell, and select them in full bloom. If thousands of roses on full power were a bit too much, there was also a new wildlife garden with roses growing in a much more natural setting. Loading up the coach afterwards with all our thorny purchases was quite a feat.

Simon White of Peter Beale’s Roses

The surprise garden turned out to be garden designer George Carter’s home, Silverstone Farm, down winding narrow Norfolk lanes. The restrained greens and greys were a cool contrast after blowsy roses, and the only flower was Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’, which had been a hit at Peter Beales. Theatrical hedges and a variety of clipped evergreens and deciduous shrubs were an inspiration. We ended the evening with dinner in George’s barn, converted to a banqueting hall, while nesting swallows zipped in and out of the open porch.

Silverstone Farm

Happily milling around in George Carter’s garden, Silverstone Farm

Last stop on the way home were The Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex, which was stunning despite the heat. A perfect time to see the gravel garden with its grasses and drought-lovers; then down into the lush water gardens and the shady areas, all planted in amazing variety. The orderly nursery was our last chance to fill up the coach and travelling home peering through leaves and flowers was like being in a mobile greenhouse.

Beth Chatto Gardens

Katie goes mad in Beth Chatto Gardens nursery!

Our thanks to Bridge and Deborah for another well organised and inspiring trip; not forgetting Andy, our intrepid driver, who is getting used to our idiosyncrasies by now.   

Words by Garden House friend, Julia Widdows.

Main photo: East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden

A Celebration of the Seasons: June

Posted by editor on Saturday, 17 June 2017

For the past year or so we’ve been running a monthly get together called A Celebration of the Seasons. It’s been a great success! Hardly surprising as there are many of us who enjoy the garden and countryside, and enjoy focussing on what the natural and ‘slow’ world has to offer each month. It’s a fine opportunity to enjoy a taste of the ‘good life’ in the city by bringing the joy of homegrown produce and seasonal activities into our busy lives!

At our monthly meetings we discover traditional ways of noticing, appreciating and embracing the changes in the seasons, and exploring how to make the best use of the produce you grow and what you find locally – in the garden, allotment, countryside and seaside.

Making elderflower cordial…

Tuesday 7 June saw us visiting another garden in Hove. There we were invited to consider and explore the complimentary colours found in the plantings, what works and what doesn’t, and the sometimes surprising combinations of colour. We also were tasked with creating a small lavender bag, embroidering the front with a sprig or two of this marvellous June flower.

Sample lavender bags – for inspiration!

Such concentration…

We also learnt how to make elderflower cordial (the elderflower being a most beautiful sight in hedgerows and countryside at this time of year), and we taste-tested seasonal strawberries – which was better, Elsanta, Malling Centenary or Murano – opinions were divided!

CLICK HERE to find out more…


An Abundance of Red

Posted by editor on Saturday, 3 June 2017

We’ve enjoyed an abundance of red this spring and early summer!  The Garden House is always awash with many many colours, but we feel the reds this years have been exceptional – from the early tulips through to poppies, looking their best this past week, and our roses which are rapidly coming into flower now.