We sincerely hope you have been enjoying these monthly updates about the beautiful gardens that open for the National Garden Scheme across the county. These have been brought to you by the Publicity Officer for East and Mid Sussex, Geoff Stonebanks, supported by his colleague Kate Harrison in West Sussex. Geoff says: “These are all the NGS autumn Sussex gardens opening across the county in October. There will then be a period of about 3 months before the snowdrop and hellebore gardens delight us again in the New Year.”
High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden, High Beeches Lane, Handcross, Haywards Heath, RH17 6HQ
Sunday 1st October. 1 pm to 5 pm, entry £10
Listed grade II by English Heritage, the garden has been sensitively planted with many rare trees and shrubs to enhance the natural landscape of the Sussex Weald and create a unique place of great beauty and tranquility. Autumn brings a spectacular display of colour, one of the best in the South of England. High Beeches is home to a plant collection that includes specimens from many parts of the world. It’s a hidden gem in the High Weald of West Sussex. A botanical treasure trove and classic English idyll make it one of the most wonderful woodland gardens in the South East.
Bates Green Garden, Tye Hill Road, Arlington BN26 6SH
Sunday 22nd October. 10.30 am to 4 pm with pre-booking essential, entry adult £6 and children £3
This 1.5 acre garden has been owned by the McCutchan family since 1921 and was developed and skillfully planted by Carolyn McCutchan when she moved to the property in 1968. Since Carolyn’s death in 2019, the garden has been undergoing a period of restoration. The garden surrounds the farmhouse, which was originally a small gamekeeper’s cottage and has very distinct areas, which enable plants from different ecological conditions to thrive including a small pond to encourage wildlife. In the Woodland Garden see herbaceous woodlanders and hardy cyclamen. In the more formal shaped Middle Garden colour is the main theme from herbaceous and woody plants in the autumn. Other beds flow with a good mixture of grasses and all manner of exciting plants to give colour, texture and movement. Autumn tones are provided in abundance by the many mature trees and shrubs within and around the farmhouse. The Winter Garden is positioned so that the low rays of sun make the most of the coloured leaves and stems of the many cornus, with bulbs and plants grown for interest.
The Old Vicarage, The Street, Washington, RH20 4AS
Thursdays 5th and 12th October. 10.30 am to 4.30 pm with pre-booking essential, entry £7
3½ acres of garden set around an 1832 Regency house. The front is formally laid out with topiary, wide lawn, mixed border and contemporary water sculpture. The rear features new and mature trees from 19th century, herbaceous borders, water garden and stunning uninterrupted views of the North Downs. The Japanese garden with waterfall and pond leads to a large copse, stream, treehouse and stumpery. As well as the stunning views looking towards the North Downs, enhanced by mature and various specimen trees, the garden has many pockets of interest. A working kitchen garden has glasshouses, fruit cages, orchard and vegetables. The Italianate gazebo with green oak columns and lead roof offers a wonderfully comfortable place to sit and contemplate the beauty of this garden.
Throughout, there are well-placed seating areas to take in the stunning scenery. The treehouse is much loved by young and old alike, from here the nature viewing platform opens on to the woodland copse area which incorporates a stream and architectural stumpery. Everyone loves the topiary of characters who watch over the tennis court.
Peelers Retreat, 70 Ford Road, Arundel, BN18 9EX
Tuesday 10th and Saturday 14th October. 2 pm to 5 pm, entry £5
A stunning garden filled with imaginative woodland sculptures and natural forestry features. These quirky yet tasteful additions are set within a wonderful garden laid out around a raised fishpond and small rockery. An inventive water feature rill wends its way through parts of the garden and there is a working Victorian fireplace.
Curved and irregular shaped beds interlock with safe walkways, generously planted with a range of specimen trees that have been adapted to give height, structure and dappled shade. Underneath the canopy, architectural plants are playfully mixed in with fragrant roses, clematis, luxurious canna lilies and the dazzling colours of dahlias, fuchsias and bedding plants. Painted pots contain late flowering exotic plants, as well as a fully stocked greenhouse of salad vegetables. October has a blaze of late summer and autumn colours with hydrangeas, cannas, dahlias and exotic plants.
Denmans Garden, Denmans Lane, Fontwell, BN18 0SU
Sunday 29th October, 11 am to 4 pm with pre-booking essential, entry £9
Denmans Garden is a tranquil contemporary garden on the southern slope of the South Downs. Converted by plantswoman Joyce Robinson from a post-war market garden to an ornamental garden, Denmans has a diverse series of spaces connected by curving paths of gravel and mown lawn through rough grass.
Mrs Robinson, who lived at Denmans from 1946-96, was ahead of her time in considering the environment in her plantings and was a pioneer in creating naturalistic, low-maintenance gravel gardens. She started her gravel gardens at Denmans in 1970 and, inspired by the Greek landscape and the dry riverbeds of the South Downs, created two faux riverbeds on a slope formerly occupied by Guernsey calves. They terminate in a pond built by John Brookes MBE, one of Britain’s most influential and renowned landscape designers, who lived and gardened at Denmans from 1980-2018.
Mr Brookes believed Mrs Robinson’s spontaneous plant combinations, which included grasses, herbs, shrubs and perennials, pointed the way of future gardening. He fused her novel planting style with his own characteristically bold design flair, focusing on structure, texture, pattern, and colour. Denmans, a Grade II post-war garden on the National Heritage List for England, also features a Walled Garden and a conservatory. Sheltered by the Downs and bathed in southern sunlight, the garden is full of unusual plants, some semi-tropical and some collected by Mrs Robinson and Mr Brookes from abroad. It’s known for its creative plant associations and seemingly random plantings juxtaposed against both clipped and natural architectural plants.
The next National Garden Scheme update will be in January 2024.