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Sussex National Garden Scheme Gardens


The year is moving on at a pace and we reach the halfway point in June. And June is the busiest open garden month for the National Garden Scheme. As usual, Geoff Stonebanks, Publicity Officer for East & Mid Sussex, along with input from his colleague in West Sussex, Kate Harrison, puts pen to paper and recommends some of the gardens on offer for readers to visit.

June 21st is the longest day of the year, and the extra light and warmth will encourage gardens to put on an exuberant burst of growth, well that’s the plan! With the worrying trend in the last few years of scorching summers and the inevitable hose-pipe bans, many gardeners are having to think very carefully about their plots, this year may be the time to consider what plants to use, so take a notebook on your visits you might be able to pick up some useful tips.

Nightingale House, Twittenside, Penfold Way, Steyning, BN44 3TW and 15 Penlands Rise, Steyning, BN44 3PJ21

Wednesdays 21st and 28th June, 10.30 to 17.00, Entry £7

Both these gardens are brand new to the scheme this year. The former is a recently redesigned and replanted cottage garden with many perennials and summer annuals. A super new greenhouse and a bespoke metal screen with climbing roses and clematis stand out. The garden is still a work in progress, come and see how it is developing! The garden renovation started in June 2021, since then it has been opened up by removing some huge conifers and laurels. It is now light and bright.

Sussex NGS gardens

The latter is a cottage style, small garden which has evolved into a series of island beds with narrow paths in between. There are roses, clematis, many salvias and perennials. A collection of over 100 pots, many planted with hydrangeas, but the majority are a colourful mix of annuals and tender plants. There are steps into the garden, so not suitable for wheelchair access.

Sussex National Garden Scheme Gardens

Five Oaks Cottage, Petworth, RH20 1HD  

Friday 9th, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June, 10.00 to 17.00, entry £5 with pre-booking essential.

An acre of delicate jungle surrounding an Arts and Crafts style cottage with stunning views of the South Downs. This unconventional garden is designed to encourage maximum wildlife with a knapweed and hogweed meadow on clay, attracting clouds of butterflies, plus two small ponds and lots of seating.

Situated on a hidden hill, with mature oaks and stunning views this is an award winning organic garden that has featured in many magazines, there is also an organically managed vegetable garden, and chickens.  The soil is strongly acidic clay and supports amazing turquoise hydrangeas! Self seeding is encouraged, and there are lots of biennials and wildflowers mixed in the borders with shrubs and perennials. Bamboos are pruned to show off the beauty of the culms.

NGS gardens 2023
Photo credit Judi Lion

Brickyard Farm Cottage, Top Road, Hooe, Battle, TN33 9EJ

Sunday 4th June, 11.00 to 16.30, entry £5

New for 2023, a 5 acre garden that was started from scratch 23 years ago. The large rockery around the pond is planted with miniature pines, behind is a small topiary garden leading into a pinetum and several follies added in the past few years like the one pictured. The long border leads into a rhododendron walk and out onto a planted parterre. Fruit and vegetables can also be seen in the fruit cages and orchard. Unique ruins in garden along with metal sculptures.

NGS gardens in Sussex

Eastbourne Garden Trail (5), Eastbourne, BN21 1BZ

Sunday 4th June, 13.00 to 17.00, entry £7

Two brand new gardens in Eastbourne join three other gardens that used to open independently, to create a new garden trail. 51 Carlisle Road is a small walled south facing garden with a small pool and mixed beds full of profuse and diverse planting. Dittons End and Hardwycke are just two houses apart and are lovely, well maintained, small town front and back gardens. Dittons End has a small lawn area surrounded by packed borders and pots with lots of colour. Hardwcyke has many usual and unusual plants and many shrubs, including 50 types of clematis. The gardens at 36 Jellicoe Close and 16 Hardy Drive are at the far end of Eastbourne, both developed on land reclaimed from the sea. 36 Jellicoe Close is a new front and rear garden created over the last 4 years on shingle beach/reclaimed land. Mediterranean, cottage-style garden with wildlife, ecology and sustainability is at its heart. 16 Hardy Drive is a small urban back garden packed with plants dominated by a large palm tree and full borders.

Eastbourne NGS trail
Photo credit to Geoff Stonebanks

Bexhill-on-Sea Trail, Bexhill, TN39 3NE

Sunday 18th June, 12.00 to 17.00, entry £6

The Small House, returning to the trail, is a developing garden surrounded by mature trees and shrubs, built over three levels on a sloping site, with panoramic views of the whole garden from a beautiful terrace, descending into a garden of delightful island beds filled with interesting plants and flowering shrubs. Opening out into a wildflower and wildlife friendly garden. Beautiful vegetable beds and pond complete this tranquil oasis. 64 Collington Avenue is a bit of a surprise as it incorporates the garden next door too, years in the making, it has a beautiful mix of herbaceous planting with structural shrubs, vegetables, and planting to encourage wildlife and stunning roses. De Wilp is a beautiful garden laid to lawn with beds containing a large variety of perennial and annual plants, vegetables, mature trees and shrubs. Also, the main tea venue for the trail. Adjacent to De Wilp, The Clinches is a mature cottage garden surrounded by trees, pond with fish, toads and newts.

Bexhill NGS Trail

Driftwood, 4 Marine Drive, Seaford , BN25 2RS

Open by arrangement from 1st June until 11th August, call owner on 01323 899296 to arrange visit. Entry £6

 Multi-award winning coastal garden, soon to be filmed for a second appearance on BBC Gardeners’ World in the autumn. Many changes made in the last 2 years to accommodate more drought tolerant plants and make the garden easier to maintain for owner. New corten steel features installed this year, including circular pond. A wall of old railway sleepers, on end, surround a large patio behind the house, dressed with many stunning succulents and objets d’art. Delicious home made tea and cakes served on vintage china in the garden.

NGS gardens in Seaford
Photo credit to Geoff Stonebanks

There are plenty of other gardens to see across the month of June. Do take a look on the scheme’s website at and pick the ones you’d like to visit. Don’t forget, in addition to the public open day gardens, there are many plots, like Driftwood mentioned above, which only open by arrangement, these too can be found on the website and you just need to contact the owner and arrange your bespoke visit.

If you’ve enjoyed this post about Sussex National Garden Scheme gardens now open, you may also enjoy:

Exotic East Sussex Gardens: Driftwood by Sea

Sussex NGS Gardens Open This May

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