The Walled Garden at Cowdray, Midhurst

The wooden gate in the north wall of the Walled Garden at Cowdray evokes childhood memories of the wonderful children’s book The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. After walking through the lush flowerbeds you’re left wondering what’s beyond it. Easy to miss during a visit to Midhurst, the almost secret Walled Garden at Cowdray is tucked away, beside the ruins of the Tudor Cowdray House and hidden behind a red brick wall. Entry to the garden is through a cafe further along the lane from the Tudor Cowdray House gift shop.

A midsummer visit to the Walled Garden at Cowdray

Walking the Walled Garden at Cowdray is a quintessential way for any garden enthusiast to spend a late summer afternoon in the town of Midhurst. The smells, sounds and sights of flowerbeds brimming with lavender, yarrow and echinacea make you feel like time has stood still. Unlike the rather staid ruins of the neighboring Tudor Cowdray House, the water features, flowers and insects provide a living history full of color and life. Surrounded by an aging, Tudor, red brick wall this hidden gem in the ancient market town of Midhurst, Sussex, is a great place for flower and macro photography. During the summer the garden is a sea of lavender mixed with all kinds of other herbs and is buzzing with all manner of insects. A manicured lawn space provides a break from the bustle of the flower beds, and occasional seats and ornamentation provide some whimsy. The gardens are hired out for events and would provide a great summer venue for a social gathering.

The other secret about the Walled Garden at Cowdray

For all the careful attention to Tudor themes this smallish (as ‘public’ gardens go) but perfectly formed garden is not as old as it at first appears. Whilst the walls and buildings are indeed as old as they look the garden itself is relatively new. The garden designer Jan Howard found the space when she was looking for a location for her landscaping business. Inspired by the nearby Tudor Cowdray House and the still-standing Tudor garden wall, she created this modern interpretation of a Tudor garden between 2001-2005.

Photographic details

I took this image in the late afternoon on a bright summer day. The South Downs is a wonderful part of the UK to visit and photograph. The HDR image was compiled from three exposures taken with my Pentax k-r camera. The HDR adjustment was conservative since the colors of the flowers were already bright and colorful.

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