Love where you live Wealden



20170203-DSC04959Shot by Rose Bainbridge


Where do you live?
I live in Hawkhurst on the Kent and Sussex border in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

How long have you lived there and what made you decide to move there?
I’ve lived in Hawkhurst for 20 years after leaving Tunbridge Wells. My husband Monty and I bought our business, a plant nursery in Hawkhurst called The Walled Nursery back in 2010. We are lucky enough to live on site, within the walled garden with our 13 Victorian glasshouses and voluptuous flower borders. We live in the gardener’s bothy with our two boys Rufus and Tommy. It’s quite an unusual place to live.

What’s your favourite shop locally?
The Old Haberdashery in Ticehurst – it’s possibly the smallest shop you could find, but bursting with hand selected goodies. I always get lots of inspiration from a visit to this shop.

Where’s the best place to go for a Sunday stroll?
The estate we live in was once called Tongswood and we’re in the Gun Green area of Hawkhurst which is slap bang in the middle of 300 acres of unspoilt countryside, with woodland and open fields. There are public footpaths running through the estate so we start at the entrance to St Ronans School follow the footpaths and can walk for three hours if we want to and end up back home – we are very lucky.

The best place to get a cup of coffee?
Well, it has to be our Vinery Café! Newly opened in September of last year, I am a self-confessed coffee addict so we searched high and low for the best coffee. We have an Italian Conte machine which cost nearly as much as the whole kitchen but it makes a very fine cup of coffee. We use fair trade Nicaraguan beans and everyone compliments us on our delicious coffee.

Where do you take people when they come to visit?
I used to be a gardener at Sissinghurst Castle and I trained at Great Dixter so we usually visit both of these iconic gardens. The High Weald really is gardeners’ paradise and we’re located in the middle of both so it would be rude not to! We really love Hastings and Rye too. Rye for its old fashioned feel, superb cafés and restaurants and Hastings for a bit of fun.

What’s the night life like where you live?
Well, Hawkhurst is a bit sleepy! I love my music, so if in Tunbridge Wells I’d head to The Forum for my live music fix or I’ll go to Hastings and dance the night away at The Printworks.

If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?
The coast – my family has a beach hut in Bexhill. We have a kettle and a camping stove, and my Mum even has a secret stash of wine! We keep toys there for the kids and books for us. It is such a beautiful place with the borders running alongside the beach planted up by Noel Kingsbury, one of my gardening heroes and the beautiful De La Warr and water fountains for the kids to play in.

Why do you love where you live?
We live and breathe our nursery. You can feel the history as you walk through the garden gates. We have one of the largest collections of Victorian glasshouses in the whole country. We know so much of the history of the garden and so many folk are tied with their precious memories to our place that we feel a huge responsibility to keep it going for future generations to enjoy and share it. I just have to remind myself to stop every now and then, look around me and appreciate what we have. After eight years here, I still can’t believe that it’s ours, we pinch ourselves everyday.