Denmans Garden, Denmans Lane, Fontwell, Arundel BN18 0SU / Phone: 01243 278950
Converted from market garden to ornamental garden by Joyce Robinson, who lived at Denmans from 1946-94, and redesigned by one of the world's most influential landscape designers and authors, John Brookes MBE who lived at Denmans from 1980-2018, Denmans is a contemporary country garden set on a south facing slope at the bottom of the South Downs. The 3.5 acre garden is renowned for its curvilinear layout, complex and unusual plantings, and its peaceful beauty year-round. Renovations to the garden began in 2016 and are ongoing.
An accessible oasis of tranquility between Arundel and Chichester, Denmans is highly significant in the history of garden design and a very interesting garden to visit, featuring a dry riverbed, walled garden, and conservatory.
Although many of the garden's walks are shingle, most of them are wheelchair accessible and the tea room is entirely wheelchair accessible.
Leashed dogs are welcome.
Tearoom, gift shop, and plant sales
The Denmans Tearoom is also open from 10-4 Tuesday-Sunday and serves homemade pastries, cakes, lunches, teas, and coffees. Specials are posted daily.
The Tearoom and shop are wheelchair accessible.
Please email or ring if you are planning to come with groups so make your visit as pleasant as possible
John Brookes MBE
John Brookes MBE lived in the Clock House at Denmans from 1980 until March 2018. Considered “the man who invented the modern garden”, he developed an approach to garden design that he explained and demonstrated in the over 25 books he authored and in lectures and classes he taught. He took his methodology and his design philosophy around the world and encouraged his students to embrace the ‘tradition that reflects the land, culture, and vernacular’ in which they work. He taught students everywhere to ‘look’, and that a successful garden has a strong, bold, clean layout at its core to which plants are subordinate and that acknowledges the needs and preferences of its owners. For these reasons, his garden and landscape designs and those of his students are never dated nor are they stereotypical. Denmans, likewise, is neither dated nor stereotypical.
In 1962 John Brookes was the first independent designer to create an exhibition garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. He upended tradition and the prevailing view that a garden was defined by its plants by demonstrating that an outdoor space could be about so much more -- eating, entertaining, playing, living. In the 1962 garden, he audaciously created a designed exterior space that had seating, sculpture, even a place for an incinerator, and was linked to an imaginary townhouse. This approach to garden design, which seems normal now, was unprecedented at the time -- even controversial -- as was the notion that people of all income levels could have designed, fashionable gardens tailored to their preferences. Plants were part of the design but subordinate to the garden’s purpose which was to create a ‘Room Outside’.
Influenced by Modernist architects and artists, John Brookes revolutionized garden and landscape design over his 60 year career. He created over 1,400 gardens, both public and private, from the Chicago Botanic Garden to the Barakura English Garden in Japan to private estates in Patagonia, Russia, Chile, and America. He was most influential landscape and garden designer of his generation and his legacy remains manifest in the his books, the work of his students, and in the gardens he designed around the world.
What our visitors say
This is our area for comments about the gardens from those who know it best - the visitors. Please send us an email with your thoughts on the gardens, John and his legacy. What our visitors are saying:
“Just wanted to send a brief email to say I have just visited the gardens and am absolutely thrilled to bits with all the work and transformation that has been undertaken. A particular favourite of mine is the pond and the statue, so peaceful.”
“Garden quite spectacular and atmosphere heart warming and so promising for the future…”
“The garden and buildings were looking great and you have all worked so hard; many many congratulations (and of course thanks).”
“ What a joy it was to walk round the garden in its renovated state. I know there is more to be done, and that maintenance will be on-going, but John would have been delighted with the progress that has been made so rapidly to the place he loved most.”
“The gardens and cottage are looking lovely, but we can see you have lots still to do and will look forward to visiting again sometime to see how you are getting on. Hope the pond planting went well!”