Today Furzey Gardens is a haven of peace and tranquility, run as a social enterprise, supporting Minstead Trust's continuing charitable work with adults with learning disabilities.

The Gardens were first planted by the Dalrymple family as an informal woodland garden in 1922: containing botanically and historically significant plant collections from around the world with a wide range of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, such as Acers, Rhododendrons and Primulas.

The Gardens were first opened to the Public in 1930.

old furzey picture

It was difficult to maintain the Gardens after the war years and in 1972 it was decided to close the Gardens and sell the land.

Tim Selwood, a local young solicitor bought the Gardens and set up a Charitable Trust with an intensive planting and maintenance programme.

Tom Mason was the Head Gardener and Paul Turner, who still works at the Gardens as a volunteer, was appointed as a young school leaver to assist him.

In 1986 the Minstead Training Project was established at Furzey Gardens by Martin Lenaerts, a former cistercian monk with a gardening vocation, working with 5 young adults with learning disabilities. Horticulture is known to offer real benefits through outdoor physical and therapeutic activity, providing important work and social skills and an opportunity for meaningful activity.

Today Head Gardener Pete White leads a team of approximately 30 people with learning disabilities and 20 volunteers each week, working hard to maintain the Gardens and bring on plants in the nursery. The Gardens are part of the Minstead Trust family which supports over 150 people with learning disabilities through a variety of services.

Students at Furzey Gardens working together

In 2012, Chris Beardshaw designed a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show and involved staff, students and volunteers to show what people with learning disabilities can achieve with appropriate support and ambition. The garden won a Gold Medal and an interpretation has been replanted at Furzey Gardens.

Chris Beardshaw and Tim Selwood

Master Thatcher Simon Sinkinson has been an important figure for Furzey Gardens, taking care of all the thatch. Since 2006 Simon has created around 40 fairy doors which have appeared hidden around the Gardens and are great fun to find.

Come and see the Gardens for yourself and discover the hidden gem of the New Forest. Plan your visit here!