PUBLISHED: 01:16 20 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:13 20 February 2013
Sussex has a wealth of beautiful gardens. Leigh Clapp selects some of the very best to visit this season
Exciting historic garden with restored features and new developments, such as the Collector Earls Garden with exotic subtropical plantings, taken on enthusiastically by the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk. More traditional areas with herbaceous borders, flower and organic vegetable gardens. 40 acres of grounds and gardens to enjoy.
Arundel Castle, Arundel, BN18 9AB
Tuesdays to Sundays inclusive, August Mondays and Bank Holiday Mondays
1 April 30 Oct (10-5pm)
Adm 7.50 - 16 depending on combinations of garden and castle
Large Wealden garden with formal and informal areas, including a scented knot garden, lawns with mature trees, a tunnel cascading with racemes of golden laburnum, secret white garden and a pretty potager. Over 200 roses feature in this quintessential country landscape, guided by owners Mark and Margot Burrell.
Bakers House, Shipley, RH13 8GJ
For The National Gardens Scheme
Suns 15 May, 19 June (2-6)
Adm 4, chd free
220 acre historic listed garden of parkland and cultivated areas, stocked with now mature species from the plant hunting traditions of the Victorian area. Award-winning collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and camellias. June is the peak time to admire the 100 David Austin roses, framed with lavender and box, in all their glory. Childrens adventure playground and events through the year.
Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP
daily 21 March 11 Sept (10-6)
Oct 22 30 (10-5)
Adm 8, chd 4.50
A three-quarter-acre rural garden with some unexpected twists. You are assured of a warm welcome from plant enthusiast Irene Eltringham-Wilson and husband Peter. Look out for a secret sub-tropical garden, a Cornish-themed mini beach, creative recycled containers, an intriguing poisons garden, as well as rainbow herbaceous borders. My style is eclectic, slightly quirky and for a limited budget. I may see a plant that inspires an idea or spot something that will be fun to use from auctions, explains Irene.
Butlers Farmhouse B&B, Herstmonceux, BN27 1QH
For The National Gardens Scheme (NGS)
Sat 13, Sun 14 Aug (2-5)
Adm 3, chd free
Visitors also welcome by appointment
Formal, romantic country landscape of garden rooms set over six acres. Lady Collum has created a truly special garden, taking inspirations from different historic periods, which she continues to develop with new ideas. The latest feature to join the series of enclosed gardens, that include allees, a cloister walk, meadow garden and medieval potager, is a contemporary water feature by William Pye positioned in the centre of the atmospheric rose garden.
Clinton Lodge, Fletching, TN22 3ST
Sun 8 May; Sun 5, Mon 20, Sun 26 June; Mons 4, 25 July; 1, 8 Aug
Adm 5, chd free
For other opening times see website
Cottage and woodland style garden, around a charming 16th century cottage, set challengingly in a steep-sided hollow with lovely views over the countryside that can be enjoyed from a crows nest platform strung between two oak trees. An emphasis on spring from delicate mauve wisteria scrambling over a small bridge, splashes of colour with rhododendrons and pretty planting around a pond and bog gardens.
Copyhold Hollow B&B, Borde Hill, RH16 1XU
Sat 21, Sun 22 May (1-4)
Adm 3, chd free
Four acre garden designed for year round interest, with nursery and caf. Home of renowned garden designer and author John Brookes so expect a garden to inspire with its planting combinations and ideas. Both traditional and innovative schemes, punctuated with focal points, make this a contemporary classic.
Denmans Garden, Fontwell, BN18 0SU
daily (9.30-5) except 25, 26 Dec, 1 Jan
Adm 4.95, chd 3.95
Durford Mill House
Take time to soak up the tranquillity of this waterside garden with its rolling lawns and pretty planting beside a gentle millstream. As with many of the private NGS gardens, enjoy a delicious homemade tea in a beautiful setting after your wander around the garden.
Durford Mill House, Petersfield, GU31 5AZ
Sun 26 June (2-5)
Adm 3, chd free
Paths lead through a series of hedged garden rooms in Linda and Bill Caldwells lovely garden, each area bursting with harmonious combinations. In contrast there are then open lawns bordered by beautifully laid out borders and neatly trimmed domed topiary containers to lend an air of formality to the design.
The Grange, Fittleworth, RH20 1EW
visitors welcome by appointment Feb to June for groups of 10+
One of the most revered and experimental gardens of our time. Originally designed in the 1900s by Edwin Lutyens and Nathaniel Lloyd, it was then officiated over for 55 years by Nathaniels son, the late Christopher Lloyd, an iconic gardener whose influence is evident worldwide from his masterful planting combinations. This is the garden that started exciting colour use, such as the dark-foliaged red Dahlia, Bishop of Llandaff, against orange cannas and purple Verbena bonariensis that has been much copied since. The legacy of this important garden is carried on under the guidance of Fergus Garrett and his team for visitors to continue to enjoy the range of garden areas and attached nursery.
Great Dixter House and Gardens, Northiam, TN31 6PH
1 April 30 Oct, Tues Sun and BHMs (11-5)
Adm House and Gardens - 9.57 with Gift Aid, 8.70 standard, chd 4.62/4.20
Garden 7.92/7.20, chd 4.07/3.70
A series of hedged garden rooms in the grounds of a circa 1700 vicarage, that elegantly represent a modern interpretation of 18th century formality. Owner Noel Thompson has created harmonious double borders leading to a Gothic summerhouse, a golden-toned border, an intricate parterre, pleached hedges and a white garden. An added bonus is that Noel also offers five star bed and breakfast accommodation, ideal for garden lovers and an ideal base for not only exploring other Sussex gardens but also for the nearby Glyndebourne Opera.
Hailsham Grange, Hailsham, BN27 1BL
For NGS www.ngs.org.uk
Suns 5 June, 3 July (2-5.30)
Adm 4, chd free
27 acres of listed woodland and water gardens, known for its spring daffodils, bluebell and azalea walks, wildflower meadow in summer and stunning blaze of autumn colour. A botanical treasure trove with RHS award winning plants, a National Collection of Stewartia trees and many mature shrubs and trees found by some of the famous plant hunters of the past, make this one of the great gardens of Sussex.
High Beeches, Handcross, RH17 6HQ
20 March 30 Oct, every day except Wed (1-5)
Adm 6, chd free
A popular garden, with both returning adults and for the children as this one is full of fun surprises and activities such as a safari hunt and scary path. There are also beautifully maintained beds, massed dahlias, a very productive terraced vegetable garden and themed areas that include a Christian walled garden and a sunken garden. Laurence and Rebeka Hardy, who have spent the last twenty years developing their very personal eight acre garden, also host an exceptionally delicious tea to complete your visit.
Latchetts, Danehill, RH17 7HQ
Fris, Sats 20, 21 May; 17, 18 June; 15, 16 July; 5, 6 Aug (1.30-5.30)
Visitors also welcome for groups of 20+ for ploughmans and evening visits
The emphasis is on spring at this ten acre garden with woodland walks, water gardens, formal borders and rhododendrons. The truly unique element however is the massed plantings of meconopsis, a rare treat down south. These translucent, magnificent blue poppies make an amazing sight to be savoured.
Legsheath Farm, nr Forest Row, RH19 4JN
Sun 15 May (2-5)
Created in the 1990s these constantly evolving gardens are a showcase for the adjacent nursery. As well as densely planted colour-themed borders beside sweeping lawns there are other areas to discover, these include a meadow to attract wildlife, ponds with an Oriental bridge, a blue gravel garden, tropical beds and a grass garden.
Merriments, Hurst Green, TN19 7RA
daily mid-April mid-Oct (10-5)
Adm 4.50, chd 2
Considered one of the greatest 20th century gardens in Britain, with an historic collection of fine trees, shrubs and plants in a beautifully structured setting, backed by far-reaching views. A popular National Trust garden for strolling with the family. It was started in 1890 by Ludwig Messel, who sponsored many plant hunters of the time to the Himalayas. The collection is still being added to with rare plants, particularly from Chile.
Nymans, Handcross, RH17 6EB
daily, all year (10 5)
Adm 9.50 gift aid/ 8.50 standard, chd 5/4.50
The Oast House
An unusual two acre garden set around a large pond with a jetty walk. Textural plantings of ornamental grasses and perennials in prairie style plantings, a double helix mound with views to Firle and the South Downs, picturesque meadows and herbaceous borders.
The Oast House, Isfield, TN22 5XG
Fri 22 July (6-8.30) Adm 6
Suns 24 July; 21 Aug (2-5)
Adm 4, chd free
Visitors also welcome by appointment July and Aug
Old Scaynes Hill House
Pretty one acre garden planted in a natural style with old-fashioned roses and flowing beds. Sue and Andy Spooner have tamed a once neglected garden that was part of a larger estate into a peaceful garden with colourful borders, a wildflower meadow dotted with native orchids, fruit and vegetable areas and a natural-looking pond.
Old Scaynes Hill House, Scaynes Hill, RH17 7NF
For the NGS www.ngs.org.uk
Sun 19 June, Sat 9 July (2-5.30)
Adm 3, chd free
Parham House Gardens
Beautiful series of gardens in a vivacious style, tempered by its historic structure. To admire are floriferous borders billowing out onto gravel paths, a resplendent greenhouse, herb and vegetable gardens, a turf maze and fine lawns. Parhams tranquillity and timeless beauty have changed little over the centuries, says Lady Emma Barnard.
Parham Park, Storrington, RH20 4HS
Weds, Thurs, Suns, BHMs, 3 April 29 Sept (12-5)
Also Tues and Fris May - August and Suns Oct
Adm garden 6.50, chd 3, house and garden 8.50, 4
Maturing garden with fruit theme and many unusual plants. Orange and blue themed border with kniphofia and salvias highlighted with vibrant roses, cannas and gladioli. Large productive vegetable and fruit garden as well as a greenhouse. Formal avenues including a topiary walk and pleached allee, autumn shrubbery and jungle walk.
Parsonage Farm, Kirdford, RH14 0NH
For NGS www.ngs.org.uk
day and evening opening, Fri 17 June (2-9), Sun 11 Sept (2-6)
Adm 4, chd free
One of Englands finest gardens, with beautifully orchestrated planting and areas dotted with sculpture, set around a listed Tudor house. Special events through the year. If you are quick off the mark you will just catch the annual Tulip Festival, which finishes on Sunday 8th May. 20,000 tulips are the crowning glory of our spring season from late April to early May when the gardens are transformed into a visual feast of colours. Hot reds and yellows carpet the herbaceous borders; pinks and whites gracefully line the rose walk; blues and purples reflect the calm water in the beds by the swimming pool. Its a superb show, comments owner Mr James Sellick.
Allow plenty of time for a visit any time through the season to really savour both the gardens and the wonderful homemade food, much of which has come straight from the vegetable garden, at what is arguably the best garden caf in the UK.
Pashley Manor Gardens, Ticehurst, TN5 7HE
Garden, caf and gift shop 2 April 29 Sept, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat, BHM and special events days (11-5)
Oct - garden only Mon Fri (10-3)
Adm 8.50, chd 5
Described by owners Michael and Deborah Bedford as a densely planted eight acre formal garden with soft edges, this is a garden to delight the visitor with a range of lovely areas. In summer hybrid tea and floribunda roses fill the garden in dedicated beds and entwined with clematis over a pergola tunnel edged with massed blowsy peonies, while wonderful herbaceous borders glow with colour. Later in the season the hot garden of cannas, dahlias and rudbeckias in dramatic block plantings is a highlight, along with a textural grass garden complete with an African-inspired thatched summerhouse. Emphasis is on continuous flowering through the garden from spring toOctober, and this is all backed by views across to the rolling landscape of the Downs.
Ringmer Park, Ringmer, BN8 5RW
Sun 22 May; Thurs 16, Sun 19, Tues 21 June; Suns 17 July; 18 Sept (2-5)
Adm 4.50, chd free
Sandhill Farm House
Home to garden designer Rosemary Alexander, author and Principal of the English Gardening School, so expect lovely combinations of thriving plants with plenty of ideas to inspire. The style is relaxed with organic and environmentally-friendly techniques, blending the practical with the romantic. At the front of the house a hot, dry terraced area leads in contrast to a small woodland, planted with early spring flowering shrubs and the rear garden has a decorative vegetable garden, mirror borders and a red-themed bed.
Sandhill Farm House, Rogate, GU31 5HU
For NGS www.ngs.org.uk
Sats, Suns 4, 5 June; 24, 25 Sept (2-5)
Adm 3.50, chd free
Historic garden with a fine collection of hardy plants and trees set over 170 acres. Since 1965 the National Trust has leased the property to the Royal Botanic Gardens, resulting in it being also known as Kews country garden. This is a place for the botanist, plantsman and garden lover. Dont forget to take a look at the impressive Millennium Seed Bank and its valuable work, with a target of conserving a quarter of the worlds plant species by 2020.
Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, RH17 6TN
daily (10-6 until Oct)
Adm 11, chd free
This garden is not to be missed, especially for those interested in growing their own food. 13 restored Victorian glasshouses are expertly used to grow everything from peaches, melons and grapes to tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies, while outside decorative rows of produce are protected by the mellow bricks of the walled garden, all thriving under the expert guidance of managers Sarah and Jim Wain. Beyond the walled garden are apple and pear trees many old varieties and some trained on cordons, as well as herbaceous borders to explore. For details on special events through the year, such as the Chilli Fiesta and Apple Affair, take a look at the very informative website.
West Dean, West Dean, PO18 0QZ
Daily 1 Mar 31 Oct (10.30-5)
1 Nov 28 Feb (closed 24 Dec to 31 Jan) (10.30-4)
Adm 8, chd 4
For further information on the gardens that open with the National Gardens Scheme, pick up a yellow brochure locally or buy a copy of the Yellow Book 2011.
Also on this month
A mini Chelsea in the heart of Sussex St Catherines Hospice Garden and Local Produce Fair Thurs 19 May Summers Place Billingshurst RH14 9AD, 50 stalls with plants, ornaments and local food. (10.30-3.30)