Boasting a wonderful display of tulips. In summer the two colour contrast is maintained using different planting schemes each year. The Giant Chessboard opposite the Knot Garden will entertain visitors of all ages.
The central pathway through the gardens leads along the Apostle Walk, bordered on each side by 12 drum yews, thought to have survived from the original planting in 1674.
The open door in the wall by the edge of the moat leads to The Secret Garden, a tiny hidden corner where the waters of the stream feed the moat. In spring the pink blossom of the cherry tree overhang the azaleas and late flowering snowdrop candelabra primulas. In late May the garden is garlanded with laburnum. On hot summer days the deep shade and cooling waters make the Secret Garden a reflective oasis.
The Secret Garden, which is sited in the corner of the gardens and reached by opening a thick wooden door, has recently benefitted from a renovation project which has seen extensive new planting which includes beautiful blue agapanthus, foxgloves and gazania. The streams which give the garden a cool feel, tumble down rocks into the moat, which surrounds the historic manor house. A bridge has also been restored and wooden seating added.
Many areas of the gardens have some interesting histories attached to them and the Secret Garden is no exception. Philip Packer, who was a courtier to Charles II and a friend to Christopher Wren, rebuilt Groombridge with Wren’s help in 1662 and it was here in the secret garden, said to be his favourite garden, that he died while reading a book in the sunshine on Christmas Eve in 1686.
Philip Packer also laid out the gardens surrounding Groombridge Place from 1674 with the help of horticulturalist and famous diarist John Evelyn who designed a series of formal gardens arranged as "outside rooms" of the house. The idea was to blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors which is a theme which became popular again in the twentieth century. Some of Evelyn's garden rooms at Groombridge also pre-empted modern design in creating an artfully "natural" landscape. The Secret Garden is the best example.
Commemorating the 200 year ownership of the estate by the Waller family and is a celebration of the art of planting in shades of white; featuring over twenty varieties of white rose. Other white-flowering plants provide season-long beauty, including foxtail lilies, primulas, tulips, peonies, poppies, hyacinths and lavender.
The Peacock Walk is planted with a variety of shrubs, including rhododendrons, viburnum, aucuba and azalea. The garden wall is a favourite roosting place for the Groombridge peacocks.
One of the garden highlights is the herbaceous border planted with clematis and a rich collection of traditional English perennials, including asters, cynara, rudbeckia, salvias and hollyhocks. In spring the focus is on tulips and primulas.
Zinging with vibrant hot colours, shaded by magnificent Japanese maples and has a new, very unusual, grass fountain at its centre.
A favourite of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has a blue and yellow theme, with veronica, clematis, ceanothus and lilies.
A white mulberry tree, planted in 1993 marks Groombridge’s connection with the smuggling trade. Early in the year there are spring bulbs and primroses, a beautiful magnolia stellata and a variety of azaleas. In summer the ornamental trees and shrubs provide a striking display of contrasting leaf colours, from deep copper to lime green.