If you’ve had a chance to nosey around the blog, or been following the various social media exploits of @SuzyHomemakerUK, you’ll know that Beloved and I are relatively new transplants to Staffordshire, having relocated from Kent a few years ago. Last weekend, we returned to our old stomping ground for an exciting World of Suzy Homemaker exclusive.
I was over the moon to be invited to preview “Wonders of the Orient”, a stunning private Japanese style garden in Bexley, ahead of its charity open day on Sunday, 26th July.
This magnificent private garden opens to the public for one day only, to raise much-needed funds for Demelza House Children’s Hospice. If you’re in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend you swing by for a visit. As if seeing the garden wasn’t enough, there will also be plants, collectables, live music and homemade refreshments.
It’s only £3 for adults and children can come along for free. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
Charity Garden Open Day Bexley
As more and more people re-connect with nature, the popularity of Charity Garden Open Days is on the increase. “Wonders of the Orient” is the only one I could find in Bexley and has opened its hedges several times over the years. In 2014, this award-winning garden played host to over 500 visitors!
Pretty impressive, huh? But then, looking at the photos, you can see why.
I know, right?
The making of a Japanese garden
Although pristine, “Wonders of the Orient” is very much a work in progress. It’s already been 22 years in the making and continues to evolve.
After taking early retirement in 1992, owners John & Una decided they quite fancied a koi pond and started work the following year. As their love for Japanese style gardens grew, so did their garden and every year since, they’ve added a new feature.
As you cross the bridge, and navigate the alligator guarding the pond, you move into the rear of the garden, complete with Japanese Tea House.
You’re invited to rest awhile and contemplate in the peaceful Zen garden, before moving into the Waiting Arbour to await your host for the Chanoyu – The Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Oh how I would love such a garden!
Such an undertaking is not for the faint-hearted. Before the garden saw so much as one of its many splendid Acer palmatums, the infrastructure alone took three years to complete, with the couple working four days a week to achieve their vision.
I doubt I could come close to mustering John & Una’s energy and dedication to create such a breath-taking space, but I’ve definitely taken away a few ideas for OneandSeventy.
At the heart of the garden is the exceptional pond, which reaches depths of 7 feet in places and is fed by two waterfalls. “The pipework for the pond is massive”, says John, “it’s like a sewage plant under there!”
Despite all the hard work and receiving no outside help, the couple wouldn’t change a thing. Like a true gardener, John says: “the whole project has given us so much pleasure”.
Award winning Japanese Style Garden
As one might expect from such a gorgeous garden, John & Una’s efforts have been deservedly recognised, both locally and further afield.
They won Best Back Garden in 2007’s Bexley in Bloom competition and in 2008, finished 4th in the London Gardens Society’s All London Championships, whose patron is HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Finally! I’ve discovered my six degrees of separation to royalty!
With its sympathetic planting, imaginative use of space, textures, colour, and sound you might easily feel as though you’ve been transported to a Far Eastern land, rather than an English back garden. John & Una truly have created a little piece of Japan in a quiet Kent suburb… just around the corner from where Roger Moore lived in St Mary’s Mount!
Random fact alert, there.
More six degrees in action. Indeed I *may* have walked through what used to be 007’s swimming pool on the way back from the pub, but that’s another story!
Wonders of the Orient is one of several private gardens being opened throughout the summer, in support of Demelza Hospice Care for Children. You can visit from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday 26th July 2015 at 31 Wansunt Road, Bexley, Kent DA5 2DQ. Admission: Adults £3 / Children – free. Unfortunately, the garden has no wheelchair access, due to the gravel driveway.
If you can’t get there in person, how about dropping a few pennies in support of this deserving charity and John & Una’s hard work? Click on the button below and follow the link to donate and do tell them I sent you.
I think you’ll agree, this is one spectacular garden. We hope John & Una will continue to allow us the privilege of visiting it and, most importantly, I hope they enjoy it for many years to come.
A hui hou,