Barbara Segall’s latest book, Secret Gardens of the South East, was published by Quarto in September 2022. Order from your favourite bookshop, from online platforms or using the button below.
A tour of some of the UK’s most beguiling gardens in the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, the counties that exemplify ‘the garden of England’.
In these three counties a wealth of history and horticulture has combined with geography in the shape of rolling landscapes, wooded valleys and meandering waterways, to provide an attractive and fascinating collection. They are in villages and towns, as well as in deep countryside, and all are privately owned. Some have been in the possession of the same family for many generations, while others have recently been transformed by new owners. Some open for the National Garden Scheme, while others are open privately and in some cases for just the occasional day for charity. The stunning gardens explored in this visually rich guide include: Arundel Castle, Denmans, Gravetye Manor, Munstead Wood and Sussex Prairie Garden.
The book also includes a gazetteer of other important gardens in the area with location advice, to enable readers to plan a more elaborate tour of this fertile garden area.
Filled with stunning, specially commissioned photographs by Clive Boursnell, Secret Gardens of the South East is a unique guide that opens the gates to the most intriguing gardens in this part of England.
Reviews of Secret Gardens of the South East
The English Garden magazine published an extract from Secret Gardens of the South East, featuring Arundel Castle in West Sussex, Malthouse Farm at Hassocks, East Sussex and Restoration House in Rochester, Kent on their website.
Sussex Life magazine reviewed Secret Gardens of the South East in the Literary Life section (published alongside an extract)
Kent may be known as the ‘garden of England’, but a new book reveals that Sussex could also justifiably lay claim to the title. Horticulturalist, garden writer and blogger Barbara Segall has stepped beyond the privet hedge to explore ‘secret’ gardens in the southeast, singling out eight exceptional Sussex examples.
She has compiled a carefully curated selection in villages and towns, as well as in deep countryside, all of which are privately owned. Some have remained in the same family for generations; others have been transformed by new owners. Some open for the National Garden Scheme; others open privately or occasionally for charity.
Segall has chosen well, underlined by the stunning accompanying photographs taken by Clive Boursnell. Dip into this book and you will be mentally transported to the heavily scented, abundant and overflowing flower borders of high summer.
Agents of Field have reviewed Secret Gardens of the South East for their blog.
Writer Barbara Segall elevates this kind of horticultural curiosity to a whole new level. Not content with a surreptitious peek into other people’s gardens, she’ll seize you by the hand and pull you through the hedge to have a proper explore, and because she’s Barbara, she’ll have befriended the head gardener and pocketed some cuttings before you’ve even finished fishing the twigs out of your hair…
With spring on the way and open garden season ahead of us, ‘Secret Gardens of the South East’ by Barbara Segall is the perfect read for those seeking inspiration, motivation or who are simply after a jolly good nose into some of the most glorious private gardens of South East England. It’s well worth a read.
Barbara Segall’s Secret Gardens of the South East was featured in a four-page spread in the spring 2023 issue of the quarterly magazine This England.
Barbara Segall talked to Alan Gray and Thordis Fridriksson about Secret Gardens of the South East on episode 101 of the podcast Talking Dirty.
You can listen to the second part of the podcast here: https://youtu.be/PQfk6_-71HY
In February 2023, The English Home magazine published a nine-page extract from Secret Gardens of the South East.
The Chatty Gardener reviewed Secret Gardens of the South East.
Review of Secret Gardens of the South East, by Simon Fine on SixtyPlusSurfers
This book is a fascinating tour of hidden treasures. Filled with hundreds of stunning photographs by Clive Boursnell, Secret Gardens of the South East is a unique guide that opens the gates to the most intriguing gardens in this part of England and will inspire readers to visit beautiful gardens that might otherwise be overlooked.
Barbara Segall discusses her new book Secret Gardens of the South East with Matthew Appleby as well as her approach to identifying interesting gardens.
Listen to Barbara Segall’s chat with Joff Elphick on his podcast Pot and Cloche where they talk about gardening, people and, in particular, Secret Gardens of the South East.
Alexandra Campbell (@the_middlesized_garden_blog) posted about Secret Gardens of the South East and included this video of the pages:
BARBARA SEGALL ON SUNDAY GARDENING ON BBC RADIO KENT
Barbara Segall talks to Glenn Thompsett and Jean Griffin at BBC Radio Kent about how the book Secret Gardens of the South East came about and the challenges of choosing which gardens to include.
REVIEWS FOR SECRET GARDENS OF THE SOUTH EAST
…a very personal and eclectic collection of some of the UK’s most beguiling gardens in the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey… Barbara’s skill in bringing us these stunning gardens is her ability to see each garden with perceptive eyes, highlighting the unusual plant, the creativity of owners and gardeners as well as supplying us with a cornucopia of stories… What comes through every well written page is the owners love of ‘plants and place’, as Barbara puts it in the Introduction – and how refreshing to see pictures of some of the gardening teams included as well.The Reckless Gardener
Read the full review:
An engaging guided tour around a selection of the Home Counties’ most glorious gardens, including the fascinating stories of their making… There’s a nice mix of gardens from the extremely grand to the intimate and Segall engagingly relates the stories of their making and their owners, while taking us on a private guided tour of their many interesting – and often unique – features. I particularly liked the inclusion of the gardeners, past and present, with acknowledgement of thei vital work they do in maintaining the gardens in their care.Stephanie Donaldson, Gardens Illustrated, September 2022
Barbara has woven the stories and history of these gardens and their previous owners with those of their current custodians with care and dexterity. I’m also pleased to see that the gardeners who work in them too are included in both the text and the photographs .
Through her expert eyes, we are given a comprehensive overview of each garden but I like the way she hones in on specific plants, and features that others might miss. The devil is always in the detail.Bridget Blair, Thinking of the Days Blog
My fellow Guild of Food Writers and Garden Media Guild member Barbara Segall has taken a tour through three of England’s finest counties discovering hidden, private and beguiling gardens and created this beautiful and thoughtful coffee table book. What happens in Kent, Sussex and Surrey exemplifies ‘the garden of England’… The stunning gardens explored by Barbara in this visually rich guide include Long Barn, Malthouse Farm, Denmans, Gravetye Manor, Munstead Wood and Sussex Prairie Garden.@TheLemonGrove, Substack
As featured in the October 2022 issue of Garden Design Journal, copyright Society of Garden Designers, sgd.org.uk
Barbara Segall is a well-known horticulturist, garden writer, and author of The Secret Gardens of East Anglia. For her new book, she has turned her attention to the three neighbouring counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, counties that epitomise ‘The garden of England’, with its rolling hills and historic buildings. The 20 gardens she has chosen, all privately owned, make up her personal selection of the ‘secret gardens of the south east’.
Their alphabetical listing within the book results in dynamic juxtapositions so that 87 Albert Street, a small town garden packed with plants, sits next to the grandeur and drama of the gardens at Arundel Castle. There is a thrilling variety of styles and designs in Barbara’s selection, from the intimate topiary garden of Balmoral Cottage to the sweeping borders of the Sussex Prairie Garden or the evocation in hedges of a ruined priory at Town Place. There is also much to discover in this diverse group of special places: Restoration House, for instance, is ‘one of the most beautiful city mansions and private gardens in England’. Then there is the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden in its woodland setting and Denman’s, site of Joyce Robinson’s experimentation with growing plants in gravel during the 1960s, well ahead of her time.
Some of the gardens are rather less secret than others. Gravetye Manor, the home of 19th-century owner William Robinson, of The Wild Garden, and Long Barn, the first garden of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, are familiar names. But Barbara has a deep knowledge and understanding of gardens and can get under their skin, revealing new aspects and focusing on their essential qualities. Clive Boursnell’s sublime photographs capture the spirit of each garden. The way he catches light is revelatory and his portraits of the owners or garden teams are heart-warming and affectionate, drawing us further in to what makes each place unique. As Fergus Garrett says in his Foreword, ‘Barbara has a remarkable ability and experience to express the crucial characteristics of every garden in this book.’
Indeed, her new book is a piece of lively and flowing writing from one of the very best of garden writers.Reviewed by gardens columnist, RHS-listed speaker, and photographer, Susie White
On 14 October 2022 Secret Gardens of the South East was Karen Gimson’s BBC Local Radio book of the week.
Barbara is a totally engaging writer who draws you into the gardens and skilfully sifts out the essence of what makes them special. Not a word is wasted and reading her books is so easy. It’s a pleasure to skip through the pages and be transported to these glorious places.
Alison Levey reviewed Secret Gardens of the South East for her blog BlackberryGarden.co.uk.
This new book from Barbara Segall is subtitled ‘a private tour’ and rightly so. It feels like Barbara is leading us by the hand through this incredible series of gardens. Some of the gardens I have visited but most I have not. Several lead to an audible ‘ooh’ as I add them to that list of ‘must see’ gardens that is my constant companion…
This book is a tour of some amazing gardens. Barbara and Clive not only describe and show, there are themes that emerge from many of the chapters. The Great Storm of 1987 hit the South East hardest and was both devastating to trees and gardens and also opened up opportunities. The recent lockdown also gave moments for pause, reflection and time to plan areas that the headspace could not be found to do especially in gardens constantly on public view. Barbara does treat us to a private tour. I now know I have to find time for trips ‘down south’ to visit these gardens and Barbara’s book will come with me to enhance my visits.