Enticing holiday lets in renowned gardens

Posted: March 14th, 2022

An attractive dilemma for garden lovers pondering where to go for a staycation is to choose between renting the Wayside Byre at the internationally renowned plant nursery, Marchants  run by Graham Gough and Lucy Goffin in Sussex,or the Potting Shed adjacent to celebrated topiarist Charlotte Molesworth’s magical garden in Kent. Both holiday lets are well placed for visiting Great Dixter and Sissinghurst.  What more could one ask?

The Wayside Byre was ‘gradually falling to bits,’ says Lucy Goffin, a talented textile designer, who was once Artist in Residence at Great Dixter, describing the woeful state of the 200-year-old carriage byre.  ‘We decided we had to save it a couple of years ago.’ Now beautifully converted with great sensitivity, it has modern accoutrements such as a galley kitchen and shower room skilfully incorporated in the timber framed structure.

Specialist architectural conservator Ben Bosence lime-plastered the walls in keeping with the building’s historic character. One of the best features is the pair of double doors opening out onto the famous garden of the nursery Marchants, brimming with many of the enticing plants Lucy and Graham sell there.  Over the past two decades Marchants has featured in numerous publications as well as being the subject of one of Carol Klein’s Great British Gardens programmes on Channel 5.

Just three miles from Glyndebourne, the Wayside Byre is also close to Charleston, the Bloomsbury shrine, and to Lewes, the South Downs and the coast.  Graham and Lucy provide a welcome basket of local produce, much of it supplied by the excellent Laughton Village Shop. Minimum stay is seven nights.

Tucked away behind Benenden church with off-road parking, the Potting Shed is another eminently tasteful holiday rental.  Once the potting shed for the legendary plant collector, ornithologist, and artist Captain Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram (1880-1981), Charlotte and her husband, Donald, converted the ancient barn in 2012, cleverly incorporating a mezzanine floor as a bedroom. Previously it was a glory hole brimming with old chairs and the like.  ‘We used to clear it out for parties,’ says Charlotte, ‘but it would quickly fill up again.’

The beguiling holiday let= the Potting Shed in the attractive village of Benenden, Kent

The beguiling holiday let- the Potting Shed in the attractive village of Benenden, Kent

The cosy interior of the Potting Shed

The cosy interior of the Potting Shed

The barn’s diminutiveness is an intrinsic part of its charm as a holiday rental. Light and airy with natural plaster walls, pillow ticking fabrics and re-claimed floorboards, it makes for a cosy hideaway. The double bed can be separated into two singles. Renters have their own garden and even a little summer house to sit in of a balmy summer’s evening.

Flowers and a selection of local produce awaits every renter of the Potting Shed

Flowers and a selection of local produce awaits the renters of the Potting Shed

The garden of the Potting Shed, Benenden

The garden of the Potting Shed, Benenden

Lucky renters are greeted by not just one but three of Charlotte’s glorious flower arrangements.  There is no end to Charlotte’s artistic prowess – topiarist, painter, gardener and florist.  Renters also get a basket of the Molesworths’ own eggs, seasonal vegetables, homemade marmalade and produce from the excellent local farm shop Silcocks near Tenterden. Minimum stay is five nights.

Benenden is a delightful village boasting a pub, a butcher’s shop and a shop with a post office all within walking distance of the Potting Shed.

‘Many of the renters make repeat bookings year after year and become our friends,’ says Donald.

Book a stay in one or even both of these idyllic holiday lets.