The Garden
Gilbert White & The Oates Collections

The Garden

Few realise as they travel on the busy B3006 through the pretty village of Selborne, that behind the imposing frontage of Gilbert White’s House, ‘The Wakes’, lies beauty, tranquillity and history in 30 acres of ancient parkland and carefully restored gardens.


Visitors to this secret Hampshire garden marvel at the quirky features, glorious vistas and creative planting which are delightful whatever the season or weather.

Gilbert White was an experimental, keen and enthusiastic gardener and elements he designed include the wine-pipe seat, the cut-out statue of Hercules and two hahas plus the herb garden, kitchen garden and  ‘six quarters’. 18th century planting ensures that the garden has much to offer the true plantsman but it can be equally enjoyed for its tranquility, simple charm and beauty.

Head Gardener David Standing began work here in 1979 and imediately embarked on an ambitious project to uncover the original layout of the garden and recreate it. As no plan existed, David studied White’s journals, correspondence, household account books and a diary called ‘The Garden Kalendar’ in order to work out the garden design that White created, which had all but disappeared in the decades since his death.

A dedicated group of garden volunteers known affectionately as The Wakes Weeders, help David and his small team with all aspects of garden maintenance (new recruits always welcome!)

The Kitchen Garden

The kitchen garden is on Baker’s Hill, one of the areas of the garden used by Gilbert White in the 18th century for growing fruit and vegetables.

The kitchen garden has two main aims, recreating the look and feel of the productive areas of Gilbert White’s garden and supplying the Tea Parlour kitchen with fresh ingredients. The vegetables and soft fruit varieties grown are based on the ones recorded by Gilbert White in his ‘Garden Kalendar’. Where the original 18th century varieties are not available other heritage varieties are grown, mixing some of the more unusual plants with those that can be supplied in bulk for use in the kitchen.

Where possible heritage tools and equipment are used in the kitchen garden to make it feel as much as possible like the original. The signs around the garden include quotes from the ‘Garden Kalendar’ showing the dates when Gilbert White was sowing seeds or planting.



List of Garden Jobs for Volunteers

Week beginning 2nd April 2016

* Watering plant stands by shop doors

* Watering plant stands under tulip tree

* Watering pots of tulips etc by shop doors

* Cut down hypericum bush at base of fire escape

* Cut new edge around the fruit wall border

* Carefully hoe around tulips in fruit wall border

* Continue to Weed & fork up trodden ground beneath hard pruned Banksian rose on the house

* Weeding in Tulip tree Quarter

* Once weeded, finish mulching Tulip tree Quarter with leaf mould

* Weeding in Giant reed Quarter

* Move Giant reed to centre of bed

* Continue Selective weeding of border by Laburnum Arch (needs supervision)

* Straighten willow hoops line that leads to Laburnum Arch

* Start to dig weeds out of border by Gingko

* Clear up debris from coppice area by pond

* Cut out new edge to fruit wall border

* Clear out Path reveal pits in orchard walk

* Weeding in Kitchen garden

* Assistance with Hot beds & frames

* Cutting Bed: Move turf edge to widen turf path near hedge

* Weeding in Basons

* Weeding in Cutting beds


The Garden Blog

Now, for the first time, we are publishing extracts of the Wakes Weeders’ Newsletters in our monthly gardening blog. For the full Weeders’ Newsletter, you will have come and help out in the garden!

There is a wealth of knowledge hidden in the Wakes Weeders’ monthly newsletters, written by Head Gardener, David Standing. This newsletter archive (of over 30 years) plots David’s fantastic journey to re-discover Gilbert White’s garden. Extracts of this detailed archive may well be published here in the future, but for now we hope you enjoy these current extracts.

  • The Importance of Gardening in Earnest, or the Garden in May.

    The Garden in May

    We are now into the gardening season in earnest: the soil is warming up, plants (& weeds!) are beginning to grow strongly and gardeners launch into their normal operations, planting, hoeing, hand weeding, edging & mowing. There’s also a little panic in the air- have we

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  • Really Wild Gardening

    David Standing, head gardener at Gilbert White & The Oates Collections will be offering advice on wild gardening on Saturday 7th May 2016. David has over 37 years of experience as gardener at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne. This 3hr course will in include an introduction to wild gardening,

    Read more

  • Spring into April in the Garden

    The Weeders have been working especially well over the last month, and with no rain for a fortnight or so and temperatures too low for rampant weed growth, we have made discernible impact on the garden! The soil is workable at the moment and it has been possible to

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  • HLF Success: Gilbert Strikes Gold !

    HLF success will reveal hidden within the museum treasures…

    HLF Success

    Hidden treasures, held for years in the archives of Gilbert White & The Oates Collections in Selborne, will become accessible to the public for the first time following a

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  • March in Gilbert’s Garden

    It’s March in Gilbert White’s garden and after a week of dry weather (well, at Selborne at least, I hear there’s been showers elsewhere) and some sunshine, I think we can be forgiven for thinking that spring is on its way!  At least, it feels a little like that

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  • Newsletter No 330 March 2016

    After a week of dry weather (well, at Selborne at least, I hear there’s been showers elsewhere) and some sunshine, I think we can be forgiven for thinking that spring is on its way! At least, it feels a little like that in the warmth of the sun, but

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  • Selborne Snowdrops

    It’s Snowdrop Weekend here in Selborne, and our garden team have been researching this welcome sight of spring. 

    Laurie Woods, our resident snowdrop expert and deputy head gardener Rose have begun to establish two colonies of Selborne Greentips in Gilbert White’s Garden in Selborne.


    Selborne Snowdrops

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  • Another Year in Gilbert White’s Garden

    Welcome to another year in Gilbert White’s Garden! Summed up at the moment by one word: Wet!

    We have very soggy soil and lawns. Plenty of mud!! However, gardening must go on, even in less than ideal conditions.

    The Dining room shrubbery has been tidied (many thanks to

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  • Happy New Year! Museum Events in 2016

    2015 was one of Gilbert White & The Oates Collections best ever years! However we at Gilbert White’s are now looking forward to a jammed packed year in 2016! We thought we’d share with our Museum Events 2016.

    January is already off to a flying start with our

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  • Garden Newsletter: December

    After the warmest November since records began, things are still growing in the garden! Arnold has just mown the fields on Bakers Hill, we do hope this is the last time this year! Many thanks to all of you who have worked so hard in the garden during this

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Links to other 18th century gardens

Hampshire Gardens Trust and their Events

Painshill Park

Hinton Ampner Gardens