View Article  New Season starts on Mothering Sunday!
Tomorrow is the first day of the 2012 Season and, after a very busy week, we are all feeling very excited. It will be lovely to show visitors some of the projects we have been working on over the winter. Guy has finished re-landscaping The Rose Walk. All the beds have been straightened up and re-plantd with Roses, including a Jubilee variety! He has installed metal edging to help complete 'the look'! It certainly looks very smart.

Work continues on the Walled Garden. A few setbacks have meant that we are now slightly behind schedule but I am hoping that,with dry weather forecast for next week, we will start making good progress.

The Botanical Art exhibition in The Garden Room looks fantatastic. I do hope that lots of Mums enjoy looking at it tomorrow before claiming their free pot of tea in the cafe.

Finally, I have to mention our new Yeti T-shirts. Caroline has done such a brilliant job and we think that they look really cool. Pictures to follow!
View Article  New Gardener and New Garden!
Happy New Year! There have been two very exciting develpments at Riverhill.

Firstly, we now have a Head Gardener. Guy Chatten joined us at the end of Novermber. Assisted by his growing team of volunteers, he has already made a big impact on the garden. He is extremely enthusiastic and has so many thoughts and plans. Crucially, he has been spending lots of time with Ed's grandmother learning her stories about the garden as well as agreeing the planting for the Rose Walk.

Secondly, the brambles and undergrowth have been cleared from the walled garden and work has finally started on this amazing area, renovating the old paths and re-landscaping the centre. Ed and I are both so excited by this project. We are keeping our fingers firmly crossed for dry weather as they can't dig when it is wet. We were blessed with 5 dry days last week and progress was good. Keep your fingers firmly crossed for this week. It would be wonderful to be able to finish the landscaping so that work could start on the paths and planting.
View Article  Successful Second Season
Our 'Country House Rescue Revisited' programme is due to be aired tomorrow (Thursday 6th October) at 8pm on Channel 4. The final part of this will be footage filmed when Ruth revisited us a year ago in October 2010.

It is incredible to think that a year has already passed since this was filmed; the 'baby Emilia' shown in the programme is now 17 months old! Thankfully our second season has also been a great success with visitor numbers up from 2010. We celebrated the end of the season with a BBQ for all our volunteers & staff and also a charity treasure hunt for adults.

Highlights of the season have included hosting our first wedding reception, Ed's wild flower banks in the car park, a visit from the Morgan Car Society, a range of children's parties , expanding the adventure playground and introducing new product ranges in our shop and plant stall. We also expanded our range of 'Family Fun' activities, including teaming up with Rock UK to offer rock climbing and archery sessions which proved very popular with our Season Ticket Holders.

Ed and I are now busy preparing for next season. Much of the infrastructure is in place (car park, cafe etc) and so we can now focus our investment towards the restoration of the the gardens. Work to re-build the collapsed southern Kitchen Garden Wall is almost complete and so the next project will be the Rose Walk and re-planting the Walled Garden itself. This will be a huge task and we are currently looking for volunteer gardeners who would like to get involved, under the supervision of our new Head Gardener.

Finally, we are keen to offer events for adults and not just for children, particularly during term-time. Now that we can use our wonderful 'Garden Room', I am keen to introduce Botanical Art Workshops and Photography courses as well as some 'keep-fit' ideas for us Mums such as Pilates and Lattes! More information to follow on the website but let me know if you are interested in any of the above ? Get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or the website.
View Article  View from the Top
What a relief it is to have some rain after such a dry start to the season! Ed is thrilled that his thirsty maze trees are getting a good drink. I hope that it now stops in time for the children's summer holidays. We have been busy finalising details for our events programme - there is a lot going on over the next 2 months.

Thank you to The Sevenoaks Broadmead Beavers - you built some fantastic dens during your visit on Wednesday evening! We were really impressed and the Yeti is grateful for the extra shelter on such stormy days!

Regular visitors will have noticed a big change to our plant stall. Ed's grandmother is still propagating specialist 'Riverhill' plants but we now have a new plant supplier who keeps the shop stocked with seasonal flowering plants. They look fantastic and seem to be flying off the shelves. We also have a some new products in the shop. My particular favourites are the cushions, aprons, towels and oven gloves made locally in Sevenoaks by 'Giddy Goose'. These are beautifully made and sensibly priced and, for the environmentally conscious, they carry very few transport miles. With our intrepid (and messy) den builders in mind, they have created wonderful camouflage aprons - a perfect present for rugged young chefs or artists.

We have had lots of good feedback about the new play equipment. The spinning log seems the most popular. With a lot of determination, Freddy finally managed to cross the swinging monkey bars yesterday. He is thrilled because I had told him they were for 7 or 8 year olds - nothing like a bit of competition to spur them on!

Several children have chosen Riverhill as a venue for their party this year. The barn offers a fantastic venue for an 'Indoor Party' whilst outdoor explorers have loved a combination of a treasure quest and den building followed by a picnic tea delivered to the viewpoint. Laying 'the trail' and coming up with the clues has certainly kept me agile in both body and mind!

We hope that the scaffolding will be taken down this week to reveal the new decoration on the main house. It is easy not to 'look up' but take a moment to admire the re-rendered chimneys and painted windows as you make your way down from the car park! It may not be glamorous but it was essential work made possible by the success of the garden opening project - so thank you all!

I hope you enjoy these views taken from the top of the scaffolding.
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View Article  Primroses & Yeti Burrow Surprise!
The new season started in a blaze of mid-March sunshine. Spring has definitely sprung at Riverhill; some of the Rhododendrons are already out, the daffodils look wonderful and The Primrose Meadow is in full bloom. The wild garlic in the woodland smells amazing and I am hoping to make some pesto with it this weekend.

Despite the more changeable weather this week, we have had some extremely enthusiastic visitors. I was told quite firmly by one lady that, 'there was no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!' To prove the point, I have attached some photos of two of our more hardy visitors who absolutely loved playing in the rain in their wonderful raincoats. Thursday's visiting artists also loved the overcast weather. They even ate their lunch outside! They were in raptures about the contrasts in light and I rather envied them sitting in peace with their easels. Perhaps we should collect together some of the masterpieces drawn or painted in the gardens and have an exhibition?

I am pleased to report that the Yeti has come out of hibernation and has been spotted in the woodland. It still seems to prefer the children's dens and camps to hide in and we are yet to spot it in the new 'Yeti Burrow'. The de Bono family went to investigate The Burrow last week and were somewhat alarmed when a fox shot out of the doorway! I'm not sure who was more surprised the fox or the children!

This weekend marks the start of the events programme as we celebrate Mother's Day. For our younger visitors there will be the opportunity to have fun making bouquets out of tissue paper and straws whilst Mum relaxes with a free cup of tea! Don't forget to leave time to visit 'The Explorer's Escarpment' - our new adventure playground. Let me know what you think of it.
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View Article  Winter Wonderland at Riverhill
The gardens looked absolutely magical during the recent snowfall. Ed wasn't that impressed with my suggestion that he should dress up as the Yeti and frolic in the snow but we got some excellent photos!

We are now hard at work preparing for the new season. (We re-open on Sunday 20th March) Jane and I are getting everything ready for the shop and cafe. Taking inspiration from Petersham Nurseries, we have found some great new local suppliers and so we hope that you will find our lunches and teas even more delicious this season. March 2011 will also see the launch of the 'Yeti Feast box' for children (no nasties!)

January must be the time when you all get your diaries out. Jane has had lots of bookings from groups who would like to visit the gardens and have a tour of the house and I have already had several enquiries about hosting children's parties. We are also very excited to be hosting our first wedding reception at Riverhill in May.

Ed has been busy building some elaborate steps up near the maze. He also has some secret plans for a Yeti this space! New picnic benches have been ordered (you all seem to love your picnics at Riverhill) and lots more play equipment (which I hope will be ready by the end of March). Finally, we have been granted listed building consent and so work will commence shortly re-building the collapsed southern wall of the Walled Garden - progress at last!
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View Article  Fantastic End to First Season
On Sunday the sun shone on our final visitors of the season as they strolled around the gardens and woodland walks enjoying the autumn colour and filling their pots with blackberries.

We have been absolutely thrilled with the visitor numbers over the summer. Families seemed to really enjoy our programme of summer activities and the feedback has been fantastic. With such a variety of events, I had thought that there would be a clear 'winner' but in fact they all seemed to be popular. I have to admit to abandoning Ed on a few occasions and sneaking off to join in the fun in the gazebo. I am so grateful to the wonderful team who ran the events, worked in the tea room and volunteered in ticket office - all worth their weight in gold!

After so much activity, Riverhill seems strangely quiet but we are already hard at work making plans for next season. I will keep you up to date with our progress as we go through the winter. It is always sad when summer draws to a close but I'm sure the Yeti will welcome the cooler air - it has certainly had quite a sweaty summer!
View Article  Himalayan Hideout and Hedge Maze Now Open!
We are thrilled that the Himalayan Hideout and the Hedge Maze are now open. Children are already enjoying exploring the hideout which is built around two enormous sweet chestnut trees. They seem to love chasing each other round and round the structure, climbing up the scramble net and along the climbing wall. Two new benches mean that there is somewhere for parents or grandparents to sit and relax whilst watching them.

We have fenced the hedge maze and so it is still possible to explore and get lost even thought the trees are still quite small. Shirlie's mysterious white creature stands proudly at the centre, carrying the Tibetan Flag. I do hope other children are not as scared of it as our daughter Clemmy is; she refuses to even lift her head up to look it in the (glass) eye!
View Article  New Addition to the Rogers Family
I am pleased to announce that Emilia Rose was born on 1st May, weighing 9lbs, 11oz. She was over 2 weeks overdue so we were very relieved about her safe arrival.

Life at Riverhill continues to be busy with work starting on both the car park and the Himalayan Hideout. The maze has been marked out and half the trees have been planted. We hope that both the maze and the Himalayan Hideout will be operational by the end of May but please consult the blog and website for more information nearer the time.

Thank you to all the visitors who have sent such positive e-mails following their visits. We are so glad to hear that so many of you have enjoyed your time at Riverhill. The bluebells are looking absolutely AMAZING right now!
View Article  Den Building and Yeti Spotting
We have discovered that the most fantastic dens have been built by visitors up in the woods. Thank you to everyone who has got involved - they look wonderful! The Yeti is also very appreciative as it now has some better places to hide! Judging from the shrieks from the woods, I think it might be around this afternoon. Generally speaking, visitors seems to spot it at weekends between 2-4pm - Good Luck!   more »
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View Article  Season Tickets Now Available
Due to popular demand, 2010 Season Tickets for Riverhill Himalayan Gardens are now available - see the website for prices. Purchase from the ticket office - please remember that we currently only accept cash or cheques!
View Article  Easter Bunny Hunt and Yeti Spotting
Calling all keen sleuths and chocoholics! We have organised an Easter Bunny Hunt on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I have also heard that the Yeti may well be up in the woods on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday - it seems that the best time to spot it is in the afternoons between 2 - 4pm! Good Luck!
View Article  Grateful Thanks and Progress Update
Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who sent us kind messages following our appearance on Country House Rescue. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response and I apologise if I haven't managed to reply to you yet.

I have been reminded this week of the old television programme, 'Challenge Annika'. Short of jumping out a helicopter (probably not sensible anyway with only 3 weeks to go before baby no. 4 arrives!), I feel that we have done most of other things that Annika Rice had to do when trying to get a project completed in only a short period of time. I am so grateful for everyone's help - from the team of builders who were here until late last night finishing off the tea-room, to Simon our graphic designer and the printers who have put together our exciting new 'Unlocking the Stories' guide book. (This is not to mention the kind friends who have offered to look after the children, paint signs, erect tables and even walk the dog!)

Many people have asked how we are getting on with the new 'attractions'. We are hoping that both the children's play equipment and the maze should be operational by mid-May. The maze will initially be marked out using fencing and then we will add the yew trees in the Autumn which is a better time for planting. Ros, a local artist, has now completed her fantastic 'viewpoint panorama' and so, fingers crossed, that will be put on a lectern up by the 'Everest summit' in time for Easter. Most importantly, we hope that the car park will also be ready by the end of May. It will be such a relief when we finally have some hard-standing for visitors to park on - with only the old grass tennis courts to use at the moment we are praying for some fine weather!

The rest of the gardens will be open to visitors from tomorrow. We are starting to see the first hesitant signs of Spring but everything seems much further behind this year. If you are looking for riotous colour, I would definitely delay your visit by a few weeks! There have been no sightings of the Yeti yet this year but I am suspicious of some large footprints which Ed discovered up in the Bluebell woods.............
View Article  Planning Permission Granted at Last!
After a frustrating few months, we have finally been granted planning permission for our car park, hedge maze and children's play equipment. We are so excited to be able to make progress with our project and will start work on these areas as soon as possible - I will keep you posted!

With the gardens due to open in just 2 weeks, it is certainly a case of 'all hands to the pump'! Ed is busy constructing a new display stand for the plants which his grandmother has been carefully cultivating. I have been working on the new guide book and viewpoint sign and Ed's brother, Dan, has also been helping out cutting special wooden keys to hang around the garden. Jane is sorting out the refurbishment of the tea room and shop whilst young Arthur and Freddy have also been set to task, creating some excellent dens up in the bluebell woods.

Finally, excitement is mounting with our television debut this week on Channel 4's 'Country House Rescue' (Thursday 11th March, 8pm). I hope you enjoy it!
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