Situated on the outskirts of Harlow in Essex is The Gibberd Garden, it is peaceful and beautiful on so many levels. Created by Sir Frederick Gibberd, an avid gardener who also happened to be the planner of Harlow new town, it occupies around seven acres. Sir Frederick never had a master plan for the garden but had lots of mini ideas, if they worked all well and good, if they didn’t he would try something else. In his own words 'Garden design is an art of space, like architecture and town design. The space, to be a recognisable design, must be contained and the plants and walls containing it then become parts of adjacent spaces. The garden has thus become a series of rooms, each with its own character, from small intimate spaces to large enclosed prospects.' If you visit the garden you will clearly understand this philosophy.
Sir Frederick began filling the garden and grounds in 1972 till his death in 1984: it is now home to some eighty sculptures, ceramic pots and architectural salvage. Each ‘room’ of the garden offers something different: from the avenue of lime trees and lawns just made for rolling down, to the castle and draw bridge!
Parents of adventurous toddlers should note that it has a few concrete paths and steps dotted around that are old and uneven. The castle is made of large concrete steps and the water brook is quiet well hidden so you can come across water without too much warning but it is a wonderful place to explore, so please don’t let that put you off!
Freddie absolutely loved every minute of our visit: he really enjoyed exploring what was around the next corner. We went with friends and the boys played knights in the Castle, rolled down the wonderful lawns and searched for treasure (sculptures and salvage). The old tree swing located on the top of a hill was my favourite, it is placed perfectly giving you the illusion that you are about to take off over the fields; it took me right back to my childhood.
It was a chilly day when we visited and we finished with a hot chocolate and cake in the small tea rooms. Can’t wait to see how the garden looks in the summer!!!
The Gibberd Garden has very limited opening times check their website for up to date timings. Usually open Wednesday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays - but seasonal. There are odd events throughout the year too.