25 great gardens to visit in Sussex

PUBLISHED: 10:41 09 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:58 09 June 2014

Bakers House

Bakers House


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

Lowder MillLowder Mill

Arundel Castle

The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk’s inspirational gardens include herbaceous borders, wild flowers, an organic kitchen garden, old-fashioned roses, cut flowers and the unique Collector Earl’s Garden with its theatrical design. No matter when you visit there is always a beautiful display of English profusion, as well as a tropical touch of tender exotics later in the season such as cannas, salvias and palms.

Arundel Castle, Arundel, BN18 9AB; www.arundelcastle.org

1 April – 2 November, Tuesdays to Sundays, Bank Holiday Mondays and all Mondays in August (10am – 5pm). Admission £9 – £18


Bakers House

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.

Bakers House, Shipley, RH13 8GJ For The National Gardens Scheme

Sundays 25 May, 22 June (2-6) Admission £5, children free; www.ngs.org.uk


Bignor Park

Members of the Mersey family have 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, wild flower areas, unusual contemporary sculptures, a temple and Greek pavilion, as well as formal walled flower and vegetable gardens. The grounds are united by a sense of peace and timelessness in this historic landscape.

Bignor Park, Pulborough, RH20 1HG; www.bignorpark.co.uk

For the NGS: Wednesdays in April, Sun 8 June, Sun 21 September (2-5) Admission £4, children free


Borde Hill Garden

Historic listed garden with 220 acres of parkland and cultivated areas, stocked with mature specimens from the plant-hunting traditions of the Victorians. Different areas to explore, including the formal Italian garden and the subtropical dell. Award-winning collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and camellias. June is the peak time to admire the 500 David Austin roses, framed with lavender and box, in all their glory.

Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP; www.bordehill.co.uk

Daily from 22 March (10am-6pm) Admission £8, children £5


Bradness Gallery

Peaceful gardens set around owners’ home and gallery. Harmonious flower borders, raised vegetable beds with a cut flower area, camomile lawn and a courtyard full of containers. Two large ponds and a wooded stream are home to a variety of wildlife, including dragonflies, frogs and wild ducks. Lovely new tea room for rainy days.

Bradness Gallery, Spithurst, Barcombe, BN8 5EB

National Gardens Scheme: Saturday 21, Sunday 22 June (11am-6pm) Admission £4, children free www.ngs.org.uk


Brightling Down Farm

A large country garden with different areas including a walled vegetable garden, herbaceous borders, a zen garden and a water garden. The design by the renowned Ian

Smith of Acres Wild won the Society of Garden Designers Award for the large residential category and displays wonderful combinations of grasses and perennials. The

resulting garden combines traditional and contemporary ideas with structure and form.

Brightling Down Farm, Dallington, TN21 9LN

For the NGS: Visitors welcome by appointment June to October, groups of 10-30 Admission £7, children free


Butlers Farmhouse

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 and an intriguing poisons garden, as well as rainbow herbaceous borders.

Butlers Farmhouse B&B, Herstmonceux, BN27 1QH

For the National Gardens Scheme: Saturday 2, Sunday 3 August (2-5) with jazz in the garden. Admission £5, children free. Visitors also welcome by appointment. www.ngs.org.uk irene.willson@btinternet.com


Clinton Lodge

Elegant and beautiful garden, hidden behind high walls, epitomising the classical English country look. Owner Lady Collum guides the garden with a plantsman’s knowledge and an innate sense of style and charm.

Clinton Lodge, Fletching, TN22 3ST www.clintonlodgegardens.co.uk

For NGS : Mondays 2 June and 4 August (2-5.30) Admission £5, children free




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 four 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 to create casual,

naturalistic effects. This is a contemporary classic. Also attached nursery and awardwinning café.

Denmans, Fontwell, BN18 0SU; www.denmans-garden.co.uk

Daily, except 25, 26 December, 1 January (10am-4pm). Admission £4.95, children £3.95



Eclectic, exuberantly planted coastal garden with quirky sculpture and detailing amongst a tapestry of dense planting. Over 400 plants are lovingly cared for by the

ever-enthusiastic owner Geoff Stonebanks, who happily imparts his knowledge for getting the most out of a small space in these seaside conditions. Visitors also enjoy the home-made cakes and savoury items served on vintage china, and keep an eye out for unexpected use of dainty teacups – peeping out of plants or planted with tiny succulents.

Driftwood, Seaford, BN25 2RS

For NGS : Tuesday 10 June, Tuesday 1 July, Thursday 17 July, Sunday 3 August (11-5) Admission £4, children free



Gravetye Manor

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 & Chateaux Hotel and Restaurant. Hotel guests can enjoy the wonderful landscape 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. See the website for workshops and events. Head Gardener Tom Coward, who worked with Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter, is progressively restoring and developing these important gardens.

New for this year is a special National Gardens Scheme day but you need to book in advance: see their website or phone 01483 211535.

Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, RH19 4LJ; www.gravetyemanor.co.uk; Tel: 01342 810567

National Gardens Scheme – Saturday 16 August (2-5), £20 (includes refreshments), www.ngs.org.uk


Great Dixter

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 taken over by Nathaniel’s son, the late Christopher Lloyd, an iconic gardener whose influence is evident worldwide. 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, much imitated since.

Great Dixter, Northiam, TN31 6PH www.greatdixter.co.uk

29 March to 26 October, Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays (garden 11am-5pm, house 2pm-5pm) Admission to garden £8.80, children £2.75


High Beeches

Twenty-five acres of listed, historic landscaped woodland and water gardens. Take a stroll through shimmering azaleas and rhododendrons in spring, flower meadows in summer and a blaze of foliage colours in autumn. The garden also holds a National Collection of Stewartia.

High Beeches, Handcross, RH17 6HQ www.highbeeches.com

16 March to 3 November, daily except Wednesdays (1-5) Admission £6.50, children free


Lowder Mill

Three-acre garden set picturesquely around a 17th century former mill house. With the help of renowned garden designer Bunny Guinness, owners Anne and John Denning have enthusiastically transformed the site. Streams, waterfalls and a pretty courtyard adorned with seasonal containers. Glorious home-made teas.

Lowder Mill, Fernhurst, GU27 3DJ

National Gardens Scheme: 31 May (11am-5.30pm), 1 June (10.30am-5.30pm)

Admission £3.50, children £1.50


Groups also welcome by appointment close to opening dates Email: anne@denningconsultancy.co.uk


Merriments Garden

Four-acre display garden adjacent to popular garden centre. Imaginative plantings with colourful combinations ensure eye-catching displays from spring to autumn. Sweeping borders edge verdant lawns, an Oriental bridge spans two ponds, a scree garden offers ideas for dry areas and wild flowers carpets the ground under a

stand of silver birch. There is a new grass garden with jewel-like highlights of vibrant perennials.

Merriments, Hurst Green, TN19 7RA www.merriments.co.uk

Open daily April to mid October (10am-5pm) Admission £5.50, children £2.50


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.

Nyewood House, nr Rogate, GU31 5JL

For NGS: Saturday 7, Sunday 8 June (2-5.30) Admission £3.50, children free




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. Rare plants are still being added particularly from Chile.

Nymans, Handcross, RH17 6EB www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Open daily, all year (10am – 5pm) Admission £11.60, children £6.50


Parham House

Timeless interlocking gardens around an historic Elizabethan house. Opulent herbaceous borders billow over gravel paths in the walled garden; especially beautiful backlit by late afternoon sun.

Parham House and Gardens, Storrington, RH20 4HS

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sundays and Band Holiday Monday, May-September and Sundays in October (12-5 garden, 2-5 house) Admission for house and garden £10, garden-only £8, children £5/£4



Parsonage Farm

Impressive garden on a grand scale with a 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. Formal avenues including a topiary walk and pleached lime allee, turf amphitheatre, autumn

shrubbery and jungle walk.

Parsonage Farm, Kirdford, RH14 0NH

For National Gardens Scheme: Friday 27 June, Sunday 7 September (2-6) Admission £5, children free



Pashley Manor

One of England’s finest gardens, with beautifully orchestrated planting and areas dotted with sculpture set around a listed Tudor house. If you are quick off the mark you will just catch the annual Tulip Festival, which finishes on Monday 5 May. The garden café is arguably the best in the UK.

Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, TN5 7HE

1 April – 30 September, Tuesdays to Saturdays, Bank Holiday Mondays (11am-5pm) October, garden only, Monday-Friday (10am-3pm). Admission £9.50, children £5



Ringmer Park

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.

Ringmer Park, Ringmer, BN8 5RW

For NGS: Sunday 25 May, Sunday 21 September (2-5)Admission £5, children free




Stylish, colour co-ordinated garden in shades of purples, pinks, burgundies and silver with an occassional splash of red. Eye-catching combinations of spiky eryngium, blowsy lilies, stands of blue agapanthus and shimmering buddleias alive with bees and butterflies.

Saffrons, Steyning, BN44 3GJ

NGS: Sunday 20, Wednesday 23 July (2pm-5.30pm) Admission £4, children 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.

Sandhill Farm House, Rogate, GU31 5HU

NGS: Saturday 14 June, Sunday 15 June (2pm-5pm); Saturday 27, Sunday 28 September (2pm-5pm)

Visitors also welcome by appointment March to October, for groups 10+

Admission £3.50, children free



Stonehealed Farm

One-and-a-half acre garden, backed by fields, around a 17th century house. Designed to be enjoyed for al fresco dining and relaxing, 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 path.

Stonehealed Farm, Streat, BN6 8SA

National Gardens Scheme: Sunday 25, Tuesday 27 May (2pm-5pm). Visitors also welcome by appointment May to September for groups 10+


Admission £4, children free



West Dean

A garden not to be missed, especially for those interested in growing their own food. Thirteen 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.

West Dean, West Dean, PO18 0QZ; www.westdean.org.uk

Daily 1 March – 31 October (10.30-5) 1 November – 28 February (closed 24 December to 31 January) (10.30-4)

Admission £9, children free

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