25 great gardens to visit in Sussex - 2013

PUBLISHED: 15:10 11 June 2013 | UPDATED: 14:27 16 March 2018

Borde Hill

Borde Hill

Leigh Clapp

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


This year the group of 14 tiny terrace gardens in Ambrose Place in Worthing will be celebrating 30 years of opening through the National Gardens Scheme. The highly acclaimed gardens have been described as a ‘horticultural phenomenon’ with the variety of styles and layouts to visit in one area. From traditional cottage and Victorian gardens, to Mediterranean and Moroccan themed spaces, there is plenty to inspire ideas and prove that small can be beautiful.

Opening times

Ambrose Place Back Gardens

Worthing, BN11 1PZ

NGS: Sun 9 June (11- 1 and 2-5)

Adm £5, child free




The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk’s award-winning garden, adjacent to the organic potager, was opened by the Prince of Wales in May 2008, and has been intriguing and delighting visitors since. The design is based on a C17 classical ‘Capriccio’ with the associated playful theatricality and was conceived as a light-hearted tribute to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel who was known as ‘The Collector’. Imposing, architectural temples, urns and water features are adorned with bold plantings of palms, bamboos and tropical exotics.

Opening times

Arundel Castle, Arundel, BN18 9AB


29 Mar – 3 Nov,

Tuesdays to Sundays, BH Mondays and all Mondays in August (10 – 5)

Adm £8 - £17 depending on combinations of garden and castle



Textural combinations with year-round colour and interest. Carolyn and John McCutchan have created a two-acre garden with style and atmosphere. Stroll the paths and woodland areas, enjoy the rhythmical borders, of rippling grasses and perennials, backed by formal hedges in the circular garden and be inspired by the broad palette of plants in each season. Springtime sees bulbs and coloured stems; summer blazes with geraniums, alliums, kniphofias, crocosmias and grasses; followed by a late season crescendo of dahlias, asters, verbenas and miscanthus.

Opening times

Bates Green, Arlington, BN26 6SH

NGS: Suns 26th May, 14th July, 15th September (11-5)

Adm £4, chd free

Visitors also welcome by appointment





The Mersey family has been welcoming visitors for over 60 years, through the National Gardens Scheme, to their 11 acres of gardens. Magnificent views of the South Downs, mature trees, wildflower areas, unusual contemporary sculptures, a temple and Greek pavilion, as well as formal walled flower beds and a Dutch garden are all united by a sense of peace and timelessness in this historic landscape. An ambitious programme of new planting and redesign is being undertaken by Ned and Clare Mersey since taking over the estate.

Opening times

Bignor Park, Pulborough, RH20 1HG


The National Gardens Scheme

Every Wednesday 3 Apr to 24 Apr (2-5);

Sun16 June, Sun 15 Sept (2-5.30)

Adm £4, chd free



A series of rooms set within 200 acres of parkland and woods offer visitors different gardens to explore – from the formal Italian and rose gardens to subtropical plants in the dell or the dappled shade of the woodland. Camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and bluebells star in spring, while in summer the 500 David Austin roses add a touch of romance. The listed, historic garden continues to evolve since its inception in 1893, from the days of the great plant hunters, to maintain and expand the internationally renowned collection. For the children there is also an adventure playground to enjoy.

Opening times

Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP


March to 3rd Nov (10-6)

Adm £8, chd £5



One-acre rural garden that is mainly herbaceous, with some quirky features. Rainbow themed border, small pond, Cornish inspired beach corners, secret jungle garden, recycled sculptural pieces, a large wildlife pond being restored and a most unusual separate garden of poisonous plants. A warm welcome is ensured from enthusiastic owner Irene Eltringham-Wilson, who is also the East Sussex NGS County Organiser.

Opening times

Butlers Farmhouse, Herstmonceux, BN27 1QH

NGS: Sat 17, Sun 18 Aug (2-5) Jazz in the garden

Visitors also open by appointment

Adm £5, chd free




Lady Collum has created a truly beautiful series of romantic garden rooms that epitomize the classical English style. From a peony walk resplendent with these blowsy blooms in spring, to the Elizabethan scented herb garden with camomile paths and a cloister walk inspired by a pre-Raphaelite painting, or the wafting beauty of the rose garden; there is an enchanting array to enjoy. Recently created areas include a shady glade, a small knot garden, a canal garden and an orchard.

Opening times

Clinton Lodge, Fletching, TN22 3ST


NGS: Sun 5 May, Mon 3 June, Mon 5 Aug (2-5.30)

Adm £5, chd free

Private groups by appointment



Home of renowned garden designer and writer, John Brookes MBE, the garden showcases that along with flower colour, long-season interest and form can be created by appreciating the shape, size and colour of foliages as well. 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 and as a growing medium to create casual, naturalistic effects. There is also an attached nursery and award-winning café.

Opening times

Denmans, Fontwell, BN18 0SU


Daily, except 25, 26 Dec and 1 Jan (9.30-5)

Adm £4.95, chd £3.95



Peaceful mill garden with meandering stream, bridges to stroll across, expanses of lawn, wildflower meadows, mature trees shading seats where you can take time and soak up the atmosphere. There are more formal areas by the house, with a sunny terrace and pretty double borders.

Opening times

Durford Mill House, West Harting, GU31 5AZ

NGS: Sun 5 May, Sat 22, Sun 23 June (2-5.30)

Adm £3.50, chd free




Three little village gardens open together, all with informal, cottage style planting. Quintessential old-fashioned roses and clematis scramble through shrubs at North Hall, massed containers adorn the courtyard at Whites Cottages and the Granary has a colourful vibrant kitchen garden and a riverside orchard with decked seating area.

Opening times

Fletching garden trio, Fletching, TN22 3SP

NGS: Sat 22, Sun 23 June (2-5.30)

Combined adm £5, chd free




Home for 50 years to William Robinson (1838-1935), influential professional gardener and author renowned for his then revolutionary naturalistic style, Gravetye Manor is now a ‘Relais et Chateux’ Hotel and Restaurant. Hotel guests can of course enjoy the wonderful landscape, eat out in the gardens, or you can also visit for a free garden tour on selected days if you are booked for lunch. Tours of the garden are also available for small groups, pre-booked through reception. Head Gardener Tom Coward, who worked with Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter, is progressively restoring and developing these important gardens.

Opening times

Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, RH19 4LJ


Tel: 01342 810567

May 27th Spring Bank Holiday Lunch and Aug 26 Summer Bank Holiday Lunch – 4 courses £45, free garden tours 11am & 3pm



An iconic garden that has led trends with its experimental combinations continues to evolve. Originally designed by Lutyens and Nathaniel Lloyd, whose son Christopher officiated over these gardens for 55 years, creating a world famous garden. The legacy is now carried on by Fergus Garrett and his team. Visitors are drawn to the long border and exotic garden with its bright and daring colours, the fanciful topiary, wildflower meadow and the adjoining nursery.

Opening times

Great Dixter, Northiam, TN31 6PH


29 Mar to 27 Oct, Tuesday to Sunday and BH Mondays (gdn 11-5, house 2-5)

Adm garden £8.25, chd £4.40



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 carpets 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 until 20 Oct (10-5)

Adm £5.50, chd £2.50



A lovely late season garden, with a variety of inspirational planting to attract wildlife, in particular bees and butterflies. Wafting combinations of grasses and textural perennials are set around a large pond with a perimeter jetty. The unusual double helix mound offers views to the South Downs. Meadow areas continue to be developed as the garden expands.

Opening times

The Oast House, Isfield, TN22 5XG

NGS: Sun 18 Aug (2-5)

Groups of 10+ welcome by appointment July to Sept




Picturesque garden around Queen Anne house, with fountains, a formal rose garden, long double borders, and a blowsy peony walk. The sloping garden allows wonderful views backing the garden. Attractively planted large walled kitchen garden with produce and cut flowers. A family garden, there are also chickens and friendly pigs to see.

Opening times

Offham House, Offham, BN7 3QE

NGS: Sun 2 June (1-5)

Adm £4.50, chd free




The front garden is formally laid out with touches of topiary and mixed borders, while the sloping back garden is punctuated with areas of interest to create pictures in the landscape but without obstructing the commanding views to the North Downs. Planting around a large pond and stream is being developed, there is a shady woodland walk, and seating is placed for taking in the vistas throughout the garden.

Opening times

The Old Vicarage, Washington, RH20 4AS

NGS: Sat 15, Sun 16 June (10.30-4.30)

Sat 13 July (2-5); Fri 18 Oct (10.30-4)

Adm £4.50




Opulent, Edwardian-style herbaceous borders, billow effervescently over gravel paths in the walled garden. A greenhouse brims with fuchsias; there are herb and vegetable gardens, rolling lawns, a bride maze, fine statuary and a lake to enjoy. Parham’s gardens have aptly been described as ‘a series of interlocking pictures, woven into each other with a tapestry-like effect. It contains strong bones but wild and woolly planting in the English romantic tradition’.

Opening times

Parham House and Gardens, Storrington, RH20 4HS


31 Mar to 30 Sept, Weds, Thurs, Suns and BHM (12-5)

Also Tues and Fris in Aug

Also Suns in Oct

Adm house and garden £9, garden only £7, chd £4.50/£3.50



A quintessential English garden set around an elegant Georgian house with timber-framed Tudor façade. 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. If you are quick you will just have time to catch the annual Tulip Festival with drifts of thousands of tulips and spring blossom on the bough. Other special events through the season themed as sculpture, rose or kitchen garden weekends, Whenever you visit there will always be eye-catching combinations to enjoy as this is a garden to spend time in and to inspire ideas. Make sure that you allow time also to taste the delicious homemade food and warm hospitality at the garden café, much of which is sourced from their abundant kitchen garden, and I am yet to find a garden café that compares in my journeys across the UK.

Opening times

Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, TN5 7HE


30 Mar to 28 Sept

gardens, café and gift shop – Tues, Weds, Thurs, Sats, BHM (11-5)

Oct garden only Mon to Fri (10-3)

Adm £9, chd £5

Tulip Festival 24th Apr to 6th May, £9.50



Densely planted garden with a long season of interest, developed with great care by owners Michael and Deborah Bedford, who aptly describe their garden as ‘formal with soft edges’. Spreading over 8 acres with different areas and rooms, including a grass garden with African inspired summerhouse, a vibrant hot garden with towering cannas, dahlias and daturas, double herbaceous borders, a romantic tunnel draped with roses and clematis, rose gardens with hybrid tea and floribunda varieties, and a tranquil white garden.

Opening times

Ringmer Park, Ringmer, BN8 5RW

NGS: Sat 25 May, Sun 8 Sept (2-5)

Adm £5, chd free




Atmospheric formal and informal gardens around C15 medieval stone tower house. Mellow walls protect some areas and in June the garden brims with scented musk roses. In late summer the densely planted borders burst with flamboyant colour combinations, crimson dahlias, golden rudbeckias and hot pink salvias, all mingling together. Iridescent nasturtiums scramble up poles in the vegetable garden as the season comes to a crescendo. “September is grand finale time. The brighter the better,” says owner Suzanna Gayford.

Opening times

Rymans, Apuldram, PO20 7EG

NGS: Sats, Suns, 22, 23 June; 14. 15 Sept (2-5)

Adm £4, chd free




Sun-loving summery plants in shades of purples, pinks, burgundies and silver, and alive with bees and butterflies, are orchestrated to a lovely effect beside an attractive Edwardian house. “The over-riding theme is one of contrast in leaf shape and colour, the textures of thistles and grasses and the enhancement of colours by their opposites,” says owner and keen gardener Bernardean Carey. Once you can take your eyes off the glorious lilies, massed agapanthus and shimmering buddleias, there is also a fruit and veg garden and layered green shade areas.

Opening times

Saffrons, Steyning, BN44 3GJ

NGS: Wed 17, Sun 21 July (2-5.30)

Adm £3.50, chd free




Home of renowned garden designer, author and principal of The English Gardening School, Rosemary Alexander, so you are sure to be inspired by the design and planting ideas. From spring bulbs and blossom, through summer roses, peonies and poppies to the hot ‘sunshine’ border reaching its peak in September, the garden is lovely through the season. The little potager set against the warm tones of the teracotta summerhouse is a picture in summer. Contrasting areas of a small woodland, Mediterranean style terrace, a white garden, mirror borders and new wildflower meadow are all guaranteed to enliven the senses.

Opening times

Sandhill Farm House, Rogate, GU31 5HU

NGS: Sat 15 June (2-5), Sun 16 June (11-5);

Sat 14, Sun 15 Sept (2-5)

Visitors also welcome by appointment Mar to Oct


Adm £3.50, chd free




A major renovation of the garden, Standen Revival, is underway to recreate the splendour and significance of the Arts and Crafts garden built by Mrs Beale at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. At that time the collections of unique plants were of horticultural significance and Mrs Beale was becoming a reputable plantswoman, experimenting with exotic plants brought back by plant hunters and the family’s travels abroad. You may like to join one of the garden restoration tours or a short talk by gardeners, or altenatively explore the garden at your leisure, including the transformation of Grandfather’s Walk and the colourful borders.

Opening times

Standen, West Hoathly, RH19 4NE



Daily to Nov (10.30-5.30)

See website for winter hours

Adm £9.80. chd £4.90



One-and-a-half acre garden, backed by fields, around a 17th century house. Designed to be enjoyed for al-fresco dining and relaxing in, with wonderful informal and more structural planting displays. Creatively designed by Fiona and Lance Smith, there is much to see; including seasonal containers, a tree platform seating area, an intriguing serpentine wooden bridge over the pond, raised vegetable beds, hot and cool themed borders with dramatic late summer colour from grasses and perennials, as well as a new hand-carved stepping stone ‘family path’.

Opening times

Stonehealed Farm, Streat, BN6 8SA

NGS: Sun 26 May; Sun 16 June (2-5)

Visitors also welcome by appointment May to September for groups 10+


Adm £4, chd free




Grade II listed historic garden in tranquil downland setting, under the expert guidance of managers Sarah and Jim Wain. The 35 acres include a 300 ft Edwardian 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 Grow Cook Eat, Chilli Fiesta and Apple Affair.

Opening times

West Dean Gardens, West Dean, PO18 0RX


daily Mar to 24 Dec (10.30-5)

Adm £7.70, chd £0.90

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