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Hidden gem – Denmans Garden

Looking for top tea and cake or garden inspo? You'll find both at this boutique oasis at Fontwell

If you haven’t visited Denmans Garden at Fontwell before, or for a while, now’s the perfect time to pop in on this hidden gem. It has just regained its Royal Horticultural Society affiliation after a gap of a few years and a change of ownership and it’s looking splendid.

The garden as an ‘outside room’ is a popular concept today but it was started by the late John Brookes – the first independent designer with an exhibition garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. He created Denmans in the contemporary country garden style it is today, combining a modern look with naturalistic planting. The site came under new ownership last year and is now run by friends of his under a trust who are putting in a lot of good work.

It’s around four acres (two football pitches) so doesn’t take all day to walk around but my, is there a lot packed in.

A series of spaces flow into each other, including a walled garden, a pond area and dried river beds. It’s an inspiring place if, like mine, your garden is a modest size.

As a bonus there are some fabulous homemade cakes to enjoy in the tearoom (I recommend the lemon sponge), or you can have a cream tea, full afternoon tea or lunch. The cafe is in a large conservatory that opens on one side when it’s warm. There’s also plenty of seating under the shade of a large tree.

Denmans is between Chichester and Arundel right next door to Fontwell Racecourse (the same turning off the A27) making it handy if you’re after a driving pit-stop (because who doesn’t fancy a little oasis with tea and cake when they’re schlepping cross-county?) The tea room can also be booked for events.

It’s £5 to access the gardens but there’s no charge if you just want the tearoom or the shop – which sells plants and gifts (I left with a plant for my garden and two presents). So, if you live nearby you can pop-in regularly for a cuppa.

It’s open year-round (except Mondays), and is mostly wheelchair and buggy accessible. It would be a good place to come with pre-schoolers with plenty of nooks to explore but no chance of them getting lost. Keep an eye on the website for children’s activities, talks and other events planned for future.

Resident dog Puggy

Denmans Garden, Denmans Lane, Fontwell, Arundel BN18 0SU, 01243 278950,

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