25 Gardens to Visit

PUBLISHED: 02:22 30 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:20 20 February 2013

Sussex has a wealth of beautiful gardens. Leigh Clapp selects some of the very best to visit this year

Arundel Castle
Seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, with 40 acres of grounds and gardens to enjoy. Organic kitchen gardens, cut flower and herbaceous borders, along with the award-winning Collector Earls Garden designed on a 17th Century classical Capriccio, complete with imposing, architectural temples, urns and water features adorned with bold plantings of palms, bamboos and tropical exotics.

Opening times:
Arundel Castle, Arundel BN18 9AB
April 4 November, Tuesdays to Sundays, BH Mondays and all Mondays in August (10 5). Adm 8 17 depending on combinations of garden and castle.

Borde Hill
A series of rooms set within 200 acres of parkland offer visitors lots to explore from the formal Italian and rose gardens to subtropical plants in the dell. Camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and bluebells star in spring, and there are more than 450 types of roses, including the collection of more than 100 David Austin varieties.

Opening times:
Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP
Daily 10 March 9 Sept, 24 Oct 4 Nov (10-dusk). 10 Sept 23 Oct weekends only. Adm 8, chd 5.

Bradness Gallery
Peaceful gardens set around the owners home and gallery. Harmonious flower borders, raised vegetable beds with a cut flower area, chamomile lawn and a courtyard full of containers. Two large ponds and a wooded stream are home to a variety of wild life, including dragonflies, frogs and wild ducks.

Opening times: Bradness Gallery, Spithurst, Barcombe, BN8 5EB
For the National Gardens Scheme
www.ngs.org.uk Sat 28, Sun 29 April; Sun 10 June (1-6) Adm 3.50, chd free.

Bignor Park
The Mersey family has been welcoming visitors for over 60 years through the National Gardens Scheme. Magnificent views of the South Downs, mature trees, wildflower areas, unusual contemporary sculptures, a temple and Greek pavilion, as well as formal walled flower and vegetable gardens are all united by a sense of peace and timelessness in this historic landscape. Programme of new planting and redesign by gold-medal-winning Fleur de Lys.

Opening times: Bignor Park, Pulborough, RH20 1HG
For the National Gardens Scheme, Wednesdays in April and also in October (2-5) Adm 3.50, chd free.

Clinton Lodge
Elegant and beautiful garden, hidden behind high walls, epitomising the classical English country look. The six acres, set into rooms, include herbaceous borders, a peony walk, allees, a cloister walk inspired by a pre-Raphaelite painting, a 17th Century scented herb garden and an ethereal rose garden that fills the senses with tumbling, entwining blooms in harmonious shades. Owner Lady Collum guides the garden with a plantsmans knowledge and an innate sense of style and charm.

Opening times:
Clinton Lodge, Fletching, TN22 3ST
For NGS, Sun 29 April; Tue 5, Mons 18, 25 June; Mons 2, 30 July; Mon 6 Aug (2-5.30). Adm 5, chd free. Private groups 15+ by appointment

Home of renowned garden designer and writer John Brookes MBE, the garden displays an expert use of texture and foliage. The garden is spread over 4 acres with both intimate and sweeping vistas, punctuated by the planting combinations, statuary and urns. Gravel is used for paths but also as a growing medium. A contemporary classic. Attached nursery and award-winning caf.

Opening times:
Denmans, Fontwell, BN18 0SU
Daily, except 25, 26 Dec and Jan 1 (9-5) Adm 4.95, chd 3.95.

Great Dixter
Influential garden, home of the late Christopher Lloyd, with the legacy of this iconic gardener now carried on under the guidance of Fergus Garrett and his team. There is the renowned hot border full of exotic plants to enjoy along with mixed borders, annuals and bedding, sunken gardens and meadow areas, striking topiary accents as well as an adjoining nursery.

Opening times:
Great Dixter House and Garden, Northiam, TN31 6PH
1 April 28 Oct, Tue to Sun and BHMs (11-5). Adm house and garden, with gift aid 10.45, standard 9.50, chd 5.50/5. Garden only, 8.25/7.50, chd 4.40/4.

Hailsham Grange
Noel Thompson has created an elegant series of gardens representing a modern interpretation of 18th Century formality to complement the former vicarage, circa 1700. The adjoining church makes a stunning backdrop to the foil of green hedging and harmonious colours. An intricate parterre draws the eye in one room and in another glorious double borders lead to a Gothic summerhouse that sits amongst a golden-toned border bordered by pleached hedges. Noel also offers 5 star bed and breakfast accommodation; a lovely place to stay for gardeners and a base to explore other Sussex gardens and the opera at Glyndebourne.

Opening times:
Hailsham Grange,Hailsham, BN27 1BL
For NGS Suns 3 June, 1 July (2-5.30). Adm 4, chd free.

Lowder Mill
Three-acre garden set picturesquely around a 17th Century former mill house. Restored with the help of renowned garden designer Bunny Guinness, owners Anne and John Denning have enthusiastically transformed the site. Visitors enjoy the streams, waterfalls, pretty courtyard adorned with seasonal containers, quirky planting by the potting shed and raised vegetable beds, as well as the glorious home-made teas.

Opening times:
Lowder Mill, Fernhurst, GU27 3DJ
For NGS Sat 19, Sun 20 May
(11-5). Adm 3.50, chd 1.50. Groups also welcome by appointment on days following openings.

Marchants Hardy Plants
Textural display garden and nursery of unusual herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. A shimmering tapestry of form and colour, backed by rural views towards the South Downs. Owners Graham Gough and Lucy Goffin have sensitively created a flowing, interwoven design, at its picturesque height in late summer and autumn.

Opening times:
Marchants Hardy Plants, Laughton, BN8 6AJ
Nursery: March mid Oct, Wed to Sat (9.30-5.30). Garden: May to mid Oct, Adm 3.50, chd free.

Four-acre display garden adjacent to popular garden centre. Imaginative plantings with colourful combinations ensure eye-catching displays from spring to autumn. Deep, sweeping borders edge verdant lawns, a striking Oriental bridge spans two ponds, a scree garden offers ideas for dry areas, wildflowers carpet the ground under a stand of silver birch and there is a new grass garden with jewel-like highlights of vibrant perennials.

Opening times:
Merriments, Hurst Green, TN19 7RA
Daily April to mid Oct (10-5). Adm 5, chd 2.

Nyewood House
Stunning views to the South Downs over a ha-ha across meadows and pretty gardens around a Victorian country house. The three-acre garden has colour-themed borders brimming with roses and peonies, draped arbours, pleached hornbeams framing a boules pitch and a wild area with native orchids.

Opening times:
Nyewood House, nr Rogate, GU31 5JL
For NGS Sat 9, Sun 10 June (2-6). Adm 3.50, chd free. www.ngs.org.uk

The Oast House
Heres a must-see to pop in your diary for August when other gardens may be flagging. Late season, naturalistic plantings of perennials and wafting grasses around a large pond with timber jetty walk. The prairie-style planting reaches its zenith in August and a double helix mound makes a fabulous lookout point over the garden to the fields beyond. New areas include river planting and further meadow areas being developed.

Opening times:
The Oast House, Isfield, TN22 5XG
For NGS Sun 19 August (2-5). Adm 5, chd free.

Offham House
Pretty borders, floriferous herb and vegetable gardens and a long peony walk are supported with traditional structure from mellow walls and evergreen hedges. There is a delightful, relaxing atmosphere in this country garden. The sloping garden allows views to the distant countryside of rolling hills and fields beyond.

Opening times:
Offham House, Offham, BN7 3QE
For NGS Suns 29 April, 3 June (1-5). Adm 4.50, chd free.

Pashley Manor
A quintessential English garden set around an elegant Georgian house with timber-framed Tudor faade. Romantic in style, with beautiful plantings through the season. James and Angela Sellick have been opening their garden to the public since 1992, following restoration of the garden guided by landscape architect Anthony du Gard Pasley. The scene changes from drifts of thousands of tulips and spring blossom to the vibrant tones of the hot border in late summer and autumn. Throughout the year there are special events that include the Tulip Festival and Sculpture in Particular, as well as Rose and Kitchen garden weekends. Allow time to sample the fabulous homemade food and warm hospitality at arguably the best garden caf in the county, much of which is sourced from their abundant kitchen garden.

Opening times:
Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, TN5 7HE
3 April 29 September, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat, BH Mons (11-5). October, garden only, Mon-Fri (10-3). Adm 9, chd 5. Tulip Festival 25 April to 7 May, 9.50.

Roundhill Cottage
Romantic 1.5 acre garden of pretty planting combinations, whimsical sculpture and quirky structures. Inspiration came from the French impressionists, with secret areas, wildflower meadows, crumbly Gothic ruins, a gypsy caravan and shepherd huts adding to the atmosphere.

Opening times:
Roundhill Cottage, East Dean, PO18 0JF
For NGS Sun 3, Mon 4 June (2-6). Adm 3.50, chd free.

Ringmer Park
Owners Michael and Deborah Bedford aptly describe their six-acre garden as a formal garden with soft edges. Developed over 20 years with great care, there is a succession of flowering from spring bulbs, followed by an enchanting rose-filled scene, through to bold blocks of late summer and autumn colour, with the wonderful panoramic backdrop of the folds of the South Downs. In summer, highlights include roses and clematis mingling, tumbling and entwining a pergola tunnel that is bordered by blowsy peonies, densely-planted double herbaceous borders and a formal rose garden with hybrid tea and floribunda varieties. As the roses fade, a hot garden takes on the show with vibrant golds, oranges and reds from exotics, as does a maturing, textural grass garden.

Opening times:
Ringmer Park, Ringmer, BN8 5RW
For the NGS Suns 20 May, 16 Sept (2-5). Adm 4.50, chd free.

Mix of formal and informal country-style gardens around an attractive 15th Century stone house. There are some areas protected by mellow old walls, with avenues between densely packed borders, as well as a rill garden and a formal parterre by the house. Plantings are designed for a long season of interest from spectacular wisterias to dazzling dahlias and Japanese anemones.

Opening times:
Rymans, Apuldrum, PO20 7EG
For the NGS Sats, Suns 16, 17 June; 8,9 Sept (2-5). Adm 4, chd free.

Developing town garden with an emphasis on a wonderfully blowsy arrray of sun-loving summery plants to the delight of the local bees and butterflies. Enthusiastic owners Tim Melton and Bernardean Carey have blended colours and textures beautifully with a predominance of glorious pinks, burgundies and silvers, contrasted by an occassional splash of even brighter hues from fiery crocosmias and rich blue agapanthus. In other areas of the garden there are layers of green from shade-loving plants under mature trees and a kitchen garden with a fruit cage.

Opening times:
Saffrons, Steyning, BN44 3GJ
For the NGS Sun 15, Wed 18 July (2-5.30). Adm 3.50, chd free.

Sandhill Farm House
Home of author and Principal of The English Gardening School Rosemary Alexander, the garden is a series of masterfully planted areas. In the front garden there is a small woodland with soft-toned spring blossom and bloom, a Mediterranean-style terrace and a more formal white garden. The rear garden includes mirrored borders, a decorative potager and a red themed bed. Rosemarys aim of combining the practical with the romantic is beautifully realised in this organic, environmentally-friendly garden.

Opening times:
Sandhill Farm House, Rogate, GU31 5HU
For the NGS Sats, Suns, 9, 10 June; 22, 23 September (2-5). Groups of 10+ also welcome by appointment. Adm 3.50, chd free. www.ngs.org.uk

Town Place
Handsome three-acre garden with over 600 roses, climber-clad pergolas, lollipop topiary, a 150ft long border,
a tapestry hedge, a walled herb garden, an orchard and a potager. Developed since 1990 with garden areas around a central lawn, this elegant garden is lovely to visit in early to mid summer.

Opening times:
Town Place, Freshfield, RH17 7NR
For NGS Sun 10 June, Thurs 14, 21 June; Suns 1, 8 July (2-6). Adm 5, chd free.

West Dean
Grade II-listed historic garden in tranquil downland setting, under the expert guidance of managers Sarah and Jim Wain. The 35 acres include a 300ft pergola designed by Harold Peto, mixed borders, rustic summerhouses, spring and water gardens, a sunken garden and the fabulous Victorian walled kitchen garden with decorative rows of produce, fruit trees and 13 glasshouses with tender exotics. Special events are held through the year, including Wholly Herbs, Chilli Fiesta and Apple Affair.

Opening times:
West Dean Gardens, West Dean, PO18 0RX
Daily, summer March 1 to October 31 (10.30-5). Adm 9, chd 1. Winter Nov- Feb (10.30-4) 5, 2.50.

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