<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
12 ISSUES FOR £24 Subscribe to Surrey Life today click here

West Ham chairman David Gold opens his Caterham garden, The Chalet, for NGS charity

PUBLISHED: 13:46 20 April 2012 | UPDATED: 23:57 05 April 2016

West Ham chairman opens his Caterham home for the NGS

West Ham chairman opens his Caterham home for the NGS

For a real ‘daffodil delight’, take a stroll around the impressive gardens at The Chalet in Caterham, home to renowned businessman and chairman of West Ham FC David Gold, where you’ll find thick carpets of these glorious harbingers of spring

David Gold's golf course proudly flies hisl team's colours David Gold's golf course proudly flies hisl team's colours

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2012

 

 

***

As chairman of West Ham FC and Gold Group International, which includes the Ann Summers chain and Gold Aviation, David Gold’s entrepreneurial interests are well known – but it may come as something of a surprise to learn that he also has a passion for gardening.

In fact, at his splendid Victorian mansion, The Chalet in Caterham, he and his partner Lesley Manning have been busy restoring the gardens for several years, and now open them to the public every spring through the National Gardens Scheme.

Set in extensive grounds of 55 acres, with far-reaching views across rolling countryside towards the South Downs, the gardens are a spectacular place at this time of year – but it’s taken a great deal of hard work to get there since David first moved into the property in 1995, after two years spent restoring the house, with Lesley arriving in 1997.

“There was no garden to speak of back then,” says David. “The storm of 1987 had decimated the grounds with hundreds of trees being blown down and it took a couple of years just to clear them. It was an awful lot of work.”

Nature’s resilience was to bring a welcome surprise though, as having arrived in the summer there was no sign of what lay hidden under the ground ready to burst forth. “We cleared masses of gorse and bracken that had become overgrown and in spring the daffodils popped up!” says David. “We have a wonderful legacy as it takes generations to get such a naturalised carpet and it gives the house a great beauty.”

David and Lesley have slightly differing ideas regarding the evolution of the gardens – David liking formality of areas and Lesley preferring to see more natural elements included as well. The balance is reached by formality around the house with structural ponds and garden beds, extending out towards a golf course, while there are wildlife ponds in the bottom fields, home to a plethora of newts, frogs, and moorhens, as well as woodland and grassland areas.

Binding together the effect in spring is the sea of tens of thousands of golden and white daffodils across the landscape under a canopy of emerging blossom.

A labour of love
“The property is an all-consuming passion and I have become obsessed in improving the gardens each year,” says David. “I am forever looking at new plans and like to hear the visitors’ comments when we open the gardens. In fact, we are looking to bring in vintage cars to enhance the experience further this year.”

New plants and bulbs are planted each year to increase the beauty of the March scene, including scented purple hyacinths contrasting with the golden daffodils, as well as tulips, primulas and anemones in raised beds by the house. Planting a variety of both foliage and flowering plants to ensure interest through the year is also important.

One of David’s top tips is to take photos of your garden in order to have a critical look and help decide what needs adding to or changing. “It allows us to plant extra bulbs in an organised way and we also want happy flowers that work well,” he adds.

Lesley finds it interesting to have input here and there in a more cottagey style. “I like a bit of nature and I have encouraged David, who is so meticulous and likes even the woods to be neat, to have a little fallen timber, as it’s necessary as habitats, and also to have some wilder areas left with buddleias, thistles and nettles to encourage a myriad of butterflies.

“I have also given David, who is impossible to buy gifts for, shrubs and trees, such as hydrangeas and magnolia grandiflora, to extend the seasonal interest and even owl houses as it is lovely to see the birds you can encourage in.”

Lesley’s attempt to establish some swans on one of the ponds has not been as successful. “We got a pair from a swan sanctuary and named them Philip and Elizabeth, but they swam around for a few days and then flew off!” says Lesley. “We tried again with a second pair and the same thing happened. The sanctuary wasn’t worried though as it meant they must have been healthy!”

Opening the garden for two days through the National Gardens Scheme, to share the peak of the daffodils, is an obvious pleasure for them both.

“I am quite surprised at the enthusiasm people have for their gardens,” says Lesley. “You immediately have something in common no matter what the age.

“We like to chat to anyone who comes along and I enjoy doing the cakes and teas. It’s such a lovely atmosphere; people come with the right attitude. At the end, we’re always exhausted, but it’s such fun.”

***

Businessman David Gold on Caterham life, football and Alan Sugar

10 top business tips from West Ham chairman David Gold

Ann Summers’ Jacqueline Gold shares her top business tips

0 comments

More from Homes & Gardens

Friday, July 21, 2017

At Odstock in Bletchingley, Averil and John Trott have developed a real plantsman’s garden over more than 40 years and specialise in dahlias

Read more
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Keen plantswoman Penny Drew has created a tranquil oasis at Earleywood in Frensham, near Farnham. Leigh Clapp visits to discover more about her award-winning garden

Read more
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A love of Liberty fabrics and the idea of being able to create something from that fabric motivates designer Amy Hunt of Willa & Bobbin. Janet Donin meets her at home in Reigate

Read more
Monday, June 26, 2017

A look at some of the issues arising in relation to second homes or investment properties

Read more
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

As she continues her ventures out and about in Surrey, this month, bestselling author Adele Parks drags her husband to one of Europe’s best antiques markets

Read more
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Traditionally crafted wardrobe designs blended with luxury modern style and The Heritage Wardrobe Company go hand in hand as their designers work with you to understand your storage needs

Read more
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

British heritage brand, Jack Brunsdon & Son, understands the importance of exterior design and takes great pride in their unrivalled collection of doors. Each order is bespoke and carefully designed to enhance the architectural integrity and value of your home.

Read more
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Andy Smith, Surrey branch director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, takes us to one of Surrey’s most precious, yet undervalued, heritage assets – Painshill in Cobham – and explains why its peace and tranquillity could now be at risk

Read more
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

With a decade of gardening journalism and a host of award-winning landscape designs to his name, Dan Pearson’s latest book is chock-full of insights gained from a successful career at the forefront of global horticulture, which began at the sprawling RHS Garden Wisley

Read more
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The passing away of well¬known Surrey resident Mary Wondrausch OBE, on Boxing Day last year, created a high demand from those wishing to own a piece of her work. The exhibition of her work at The Watts Gallery in February, subsequently sold out very quickly

Read more
Monday, May 22, 2017

A newcomer to the National Gardens Scheme this year, Shamley Wood Estate is tucked away in the Surrey Hills near Guildford

Read more
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Self-confessed stationery addicts, Trudi Savin and Sophie Morton, combined their love of block printing with a passion for pattern to create Yateley Papers. Janet Donin meets Trudi in their Reigate studio

Read more
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From woodland glades to film set masterpieces and vineyard wonders, Surrey has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit throughout the open gardens season. Surrey Life gardening editor, Leigh Clapp, picks out 25 of her favourites*

*The gardens featured are listed alphabetically, not in order of preference

Read more
Friday, April 28, 2017

Jack Brunsdon was a master craftsman with a passion for making things from wood.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Surrey Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search