The Quarterdeck and Spring Borders

 View from the Pleached lime avenue across the lawn towards the house at Bateman's,

The raised path and upper lawn that runs in front of the Bateman's house is known as The Quarterdeck and is a more formal part of the garden. Two perfectly straight rows of Pleached Limes can be seen, along with the colourful glory of the Spring Borders.

The raised path and upper lawn that runs in front of the house is known as the Quarterdeck. Kipling was a frustrated naval man; his eyesight was too poor to enable him to become an officer, but during the winter the water levels around the River Dudwell rise, and the lower lawn is often flooded. So he may well have been able to stand on his quarterdeck and view the waters below. 

A family playing on the Bateman's quarter deck
A family playing on the Bateman's quarter deck
A family playing on the Bateman's quarter deck

More climbing plants adorn the walls of the house: Wisteria sinensis with its fragrant bright purple drooping racemes and, to the left, Campsis grandiflora, (The Trumpet Vine) bearing large orange/red tubular flower in summer.  Underneath this, the ornamental quince Chaenomeles japonica flowers in spring.  In late spring the flowers of Magnoilia x soulangeana, M. x veitchii and, in summer, M.grandiflora adorn the lawns around the main house and Oast House. 

Bateman's is one of the places supported by the Seaford Association
Visitors in the garden at Bateman's, East Sussex.
Bateman's is one of the places supported by the Seaford Association

Turning towards the lower lawn terrace, we can see two perfectly straight rows of pleached limes, Tila platyphyllos ‘Rubra’.  Planted in 1898, just before Kipling bought Bateman’s, they are very much in keeping with the original Jacobean garden, which must have existed here, this style of hedging being very fashionable during the 16th and 17th centuries.   

Bateman's Garden from the South-east by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1913
Bateman's Garden from the South-east by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1913
Bateman's Garden from the South-east by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1913

Surrounding this area of the garden are more tightly clipped yew hedges, all cut by eye and taking over two months to trim. 


The spring borders

The two spring borders running along the western edge of the Quarterdeck are remnants of a larger series of beds that Kipling had planted around the edge of the Formal Garden. They provide the garden with a welcome splash of colour from February with red pulmonaria, hellebores and Scilla siberica.  Primroses follow alongside the unusual green and black flower of the Widow Iris, Hermodactylus tuberosus.  

Early summer-flowering shrubs such as Salix hastata ‘Wehrhahnii’, Daphne x burkwoodii and Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’ take over, whilst interest continues with herbaceous perennials flowering between the shrubs in mid-to-late summer.