Spring gardens at Sandham

Daffodils in the orchard

As the spring sunshine works its magic, the gardens at Sandham Memorial Chapel spring back to life.

The gardens at Sandham have provided a place for calm and reflection for over ninety years.  They continue to evolve; providing a tranquil space for wildlife, comfort and contemplation. At the front is the original orchard garden, planted with apple trees and wildflowers when the chapel was constructed. To the rear is the Garden of Reflection, planted in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

The orchard contains a wealth of historic apple trees, flanking the brick path to the chapel, with many rare and unusual varieties.  As well as providing food and shelter to local wildlife, the orchard rewards us with an abundance of apples each autumn - with a mixture of eaters and cookers, varieties include Bramley, Lane’s Prince Albert, Charles Ross, American Beauty, Newton Wonder, Ellison’s Orange and the elusive Winter Banana.

With the arrival of spring, our historic apple trees will soon begin to come into blossom and amongst the trees and along the hedgerows you will start to see the first of the spring flowers.  Look out for scarlet pimpernel, snakeshead fritillary, cowslip, vetch, daisy, rattle, ragged robin, field scabious and field poppy.

The orchard path at Sandham in spring
Sandham path in spring
The orchard path at Sandham in spring

At the back of the chapel, our garden of reflection is also coming to life – the delicate white blossom of the crab apple will soon be sparkling in the sunshine, accompanied by a host of beautiful spring flowers.  Look out for agapanthus  (African lily), alchemilla (lady’s mantle), anemone (windflower), aster (Michaelmas daisy), campanula (Canterbury bells), chrysanthemum, crocosmia, delphinium, gerbera, poppy, sunflower, sweet pea, speedwell and viburnum.

The land at the rear of the chapel was originally the gardens of the alms-house occupants, with flower borders and vegetable patches, but to mark the centenary of the First World War it was decided to create a new garden space; a place for reflection and contemplation.  Designer Daniel Lobb worked with a team of over 60 volunteers to create the new garden; between them they spent eight months transforming the garden into what we see today.

Spring tulips at Sandham
Tulips at Sandham
Spring tulips at Sandham

The flower borders in the Garden of Reflection provide colour from March to November; with a varied planting inspired by the chapel and orchard, as well as the original cottage gardens, there is always something in bloom.

Spring blossom in the garden of reflection at Sandham Memorial Chapel
Sandham spring blossom
Spring blossom in the garden of reflection at Sandham Memorial Chapel

As the garden springs to life, so too do the many insects who rely on the plants and pollen - look out for the insect houses dotted around our garden of reflection; these help to encourage the insects who play an important role in the ecosystem of the garden.

One of the insect houses in our garden of reflection
Insect house at Sandham
One of the insect houses in our garden of reflection

The colours of the spring flowers are complemented by the range of plants available in our shop – grown locally in peat-free compost, these plants are chosen especially for Sandham and often include interesting and unusual varieties.

If you’d like to stretch your legs and clear your mind with a relaxing spring walk, why not take our self-led walk around our tranquil country village.  See the trees and plants spring back to life as you follow in Stanley Spencer’s footsteps, exploring the places that he lived, loved and was inspired by during his time in Burghclere creating the chapel paintings.  For directions, click on the link below; printed copies are available in our shop for a small donation.