Beautiful roses at Borde Hill gardens in Haywards Heath

PUBLISHED: 15:39 01 July 2013

Borde Hill Gardens

Borde Hill Gardens


For a wonderful display of roses this month you can’t do better than a visit to Borde Hill gardens in Haywards Heath

Although there is a wonderful mix of garden areas at Borde Hill, in June it is the roses that star. When Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke inherited the estate in the 1990s the gardens were known for their collection of rare trees and rhododendrons. Eleni decided to create a rose garden after being inspired by a Country Life article.

In 1995 garden designer Robin Williams was commissioned to transform an old area of roses and herbaceous plants into a showpiece that would set off a collection of roses to their best advantage. A traditional layout of box and lavender-edged beds, brick paths and a central fountain works well. The mostly shrub roses, in particular about 600 from David Austin, who sponsored the project, are planted in groups of form and colour. Massed blocks of romantic pinks with billowing lavender, soft lemons, or brighter apricots and oranges, all in flower together make an unforgettable sight. “June is the beginning of the summer with the sun shining and the days long. The roses come into bloom and fill the air with their fragrance and beauty. As I am passionate about roses, June is a most enjoyable month for me. Roses are such great value as they can flower until the end of November,” says Eleni.

Some particularly glorious associations include the double clear-pink ‘The Countryman’ with wafting nepeta, and the multi award-winning ‘Graham Thomas’ with its abundant yellow fragrant blooms against deep purple lavender. Eleni is credited as being one of the first to champion the use of David Austin roses as the mainstay massed together in a garden. She recognised their beauty of shape and scent, reminiscent of old roses but with the repeat-flowering habit of floribunda roses. The varieties she chose for the garden are now recognised as the some of the most reliable and popular of the David Austin collection, such as everyone’s favourite, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.

On one side of the garden, rope swags clothed in climbing roses frame the scene and on the other side there are borders of herbaceous plants with spires of delphiniums and irises blending harmoniously. Everything is beautifully cared for under the eye of self-confessed perfectionist Eleni, who can’t resist a bit of deadheading or weeding as we wander the garden, and the expert care of head gardener Andy Stevens who previously worked at Leonardslee gardens. He stresses the importance of good cultivation by adding copious amounts of organic matter to the clay soil, feeding the roses correctly, watering in dry spells, dealing with pests and diseases promptly and deadheading spent blooms. “As a child I grew up with Mediterranean plants like roses, lilies and jasmine around the house,” says Eleni. Borde Hill fired my passion and I have become a very keen gardener. I am a good weather gardener and you will not see me out there in the winter, but in the summer months I will stay in the garden until dusk.”

A June visit to Borde Hill is a must. After admiring the roses, take some time to wander the other garden areas, including the Italian garden with its large rectangular pond filled with water lilies and the tranquil sub-tropical dell.


Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP Every day until 3rd Nov (10am – 6pm, or dusk) Adm £8.80, children £5.50 (both with gift aid)

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