Springwood is justifiably proud of its position in the leafy conservation area of Horley, but does not pretend that it can compete with the 465 acres managed by the nearby National Trust country estate of Wakehurst Place!
Wakehurst Place is the National Trust’s country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and 2015 marks the golden jubilee of Kew’s management of the property, celebrating the internationally renowned Millennium Seed Bank project as well as the creation of the Loder Valley and Francis Rose Nature Reserves. The estate is just twelve miles from Springwood and offers a wide variety of interests – form ornamental gardens, temperate woodlands, a nature reserve and an Elizabethan mansion.
Autumn is a perfect time to visit the estate and see plants and tress of seasonal interest and enjoy the rich golden colours; as the trees begin to brown, the leaves to turn and the air starts to chill, it an ideal time to wrap up warm and embark upon a bracing stroll through the grounds at Wakehurst.
Take advantage of the free daily guided tours (11.30am and 2pm, details from the Visitor Centre), which are approximately one hour in duration and focus predominantly on the ornamental gardens, the history of the mansion and the importance of the Millennium Seed Bank.
“On the second and fourth Thursday of each month, the afternoon tour is longer and takes in the entire woodland collections as well as the ornamental areas (this takes over two hours and involves some steep slopes). This longer walk allows visitors to be shown fascinating trees from around the world and to appreciate the full size of the estate”.
You can also enjoy the “Inspired by Nature’ Sculpture Trail. There are seventeen spectacular sculptures altogether, standing up to four metres tall, and have been created by renowned willow artist Tom Hare. Giant mushrooms, wildflowers, grasses, and seed pods have been springing up throughout the estate – three ceps in Horsebridge Wood, three morels in Coates Wood, and an eccentric-looking horn of plenty design in Westwood Valley.
“Tom has worked closely with fungi experts at Kew to ensure the designs are scientifically accurate – as well as being visually stunning. Each sculpture is painstakingly created by weaving willow stems around purpose built steel frames, with different shades of willow used to create different colour effects”.
The mega mushroom sculptures were originally on display at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew but will now form part of the permanent sculpture trail at Wakehurst. The Inspired by Nature sculpture trail is included in the general admission price.