CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Visit the Coverwood Lakes gardens, Ewhurst

PUBLISHED: 06:39 11 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:23 11 May 2015

Spring reflections at Coverwood Lakes

Spring reflections at Coverwood Lakes


Take a stroll through the enchanting landscape of Coverwood Lakes, open on selected days in the spring and the autumn, where you might even spot the likes of Madonna doing a spot of filming…

Nigel Metson gains great pleasure from the gardenNigel Metson gains great pleasure from the garden

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2015


Share your Surrey gardens photography @

25 more great gardens to visit in Surrey 2015


The 14-acre, privately-owned gardens at Coverwood Lakes, near Ewhurst, are perfect for a relaxing ramble in the spring, when they are open on selected days to showcase the extensive collection of azaleas and rhododendrons. As well as enjoying this stunning floral display, visitors can stroll through the grassland farm, around the lakes and past the bog gardens, while also admiring the impressive collection of mature trees and shrubs.

Home to the Metson family since 1952, the gardens were originally laid out in 1909 by Dr Henry Charles Stephens, son of the famous inventor of blue-black ink, known as Stephen’s Ink. By the time the Metson family bought the estate, however, the grounds were in a state of neglect and smothered in brambles. Over time though, the gardens were cleared and rejuvenated, plants and trees added, the paths reinstated and the lakes established.

“It’s a magical place to live, up high in the Surrey Hills on our own, surrounded by acres of greenery,” says owner Nigel Metson. “Life seems like being on holiday all the time.”

On the trail

Today, you can follow a marked trail through the picturesque gardens and farm, past pedigree Hereford and Ryelands cattle, grazing sheep and horses, to the four lakes fed by natural springs.

The gardens themselves are beautifully landscaped with a wide variety of trees and shrubs, such as a magnificent tulip tree, oaks, sorbus, maples, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. A further three-and-a-half acres have been given over to an arboretum of decorative trees from all over the world, including cedars, firs, Oxydendrum (sourwood) and wellingtonias. Elsewhere, along the 
edges of the streams linking the lakes, 
the damp conditions are ideal for lysichitum, gunnera, lily-of-the-valley 
and swamp cypress.

At the first lake, a creeper-clad stone arbour backed by conifers draws your attention. The views across the lake are wonderful with the reflections of the surrounding colours shimmering on the water’s surface. Crimson rhododendrons and golden azaleas appear to ripple in the water, where you may be lucky to spot carp swimming in and out of the water lilies. A small waterfall links the second and third lakes.

“We’ve also placed a bench at the edge of the water,” adds Nigel. “It’s a lovely spot to take in the atmosphere.”

Maintaining the gardens and lakes is ongoing, particularly pruning in order to keep the vistas and pathways clear. Regular tasks, fitted around the farm calendar, keep everything ticking along nicely, such as using a boat with an electric weed-cutter on the lakes – from March and then monthly until the end of September – or having a big spring push to keep paths clear and the garden looking tidy.

“Because it’s a large area, the overall impression looks well manicured but it’s not meticulous like a plantsman’s garden,” adds Nigel.

Opening the gates

Coverwood Lakes has been opening with the National Gardens Scheme for over 50 years and many visitors return year upon year to spend time taking in the relaxing atmosphere, especially as there is always something new to see.

“We have also diversified the farm activities by holding wedding receptions under marquees by the top lake, creating a mobile café and catering with our home produce and renovating an old stockman’s cottage for a holiday let,” says Nigel. “Then there’s our opera and music evenings, which we’re celebrating 25 years of in 2015.”

Often used as a film location too, during your visit you may well be walking in the footsteps of Madonna who filmed W.E. here, a movie about Wallis Simpson. So you never know just who you might see reflected back at you in the lakes.


Get the look...

• Add a series of ponds to your garden, thinking about how to make the most of reflections

• For the backdrop, create layers of planting with trees, shrubs and ground covers

• Plant massed rhododendrons and azaleas, underplanted with blue bulbs, for the spring

• Remember that these plants work best with ericaceous, humus-rich, acid soil

• Give the impression of an informal landscape style with naturalised bluebells and ferns

• Design meandering paths throughout the garden


Need to know:

Coverwood Lakes, Ewhurst GU6 7NT. 
Open on Sunday April 12, Sunday April 19, Sunday April 26, Monday May 4, Sunday May 17 and Sunday May 24 (11am-5pm) and Sunday October 18 (11am-4.30pm). Admission £5, children free. Garden visits for clubs and societies are welcome by appointment any time of the year. Please enquire about rates. For more on the National Gardens Scheme openings, see The next Coverwood Lakes concert, which are celebrating their 25th anniversary year, takes place on Sunday June 28. For more information on the wedding venue and holiday cottage, see the website:

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 10:52

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wed, 16:05

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tue, 10:53

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tue, 10:47

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tue, 10:41

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Mon, 14:32

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Mon, 12:56

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Mon, 12:13

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search