Next month sees the Coronation of King Charles III (who, as the former Prince of Wales, was the Patron of the National Garden Scheme) and the long Bank Holiday Weekend. There has been much written about His Majesty’s favourite flowers over the years and which might appear as an integral part of the celebrations. While we won’t know until the day, it is expected that we’ll see some of the King’s favourite blooms delphiniums, make an appearance. In the past, he has been quoted as saying: “For me, the magnificent, gloriously apparelled delphinium, with its impeccable bearing and massed in platoons, holds pride of place in my botanical affections”. I’m sure many of us might agree.
Geoff Stonebanks, NGS’s Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex has curated, with the help of Kate Harrison his counterpart in West Sussex, this list of beautiful Sussex NGS gardens to see through May, including a couple over this Coronation weekend.
Hollymount, Burnt Oak Road, High Hurstwood, Uckfield, TN22 4AE. Sunday 7th May, 2 pm to 6 pm, £7.
A new, 7-acre garden on a sloping hillside. A garden full of water with four large ponds, a stream and waterfalls. Wander around the terraced beds with interesting planting, some tropical, see large rhododendrons and plenty of wildlife in the shape of alpacas, chickens, ducks and fish. The garden has a great variety of trees, plus two greenhouses, a beautiful shepherd’s hut, summerhouse, many gravel paths, a kitchen garden and wildflower terracing to the rear. It is a very peaceful setting with great views.
Mountfield Court, Robertsbridge, TN32 5JP. Sunday 7th May, 2 pm to 5 pm, £5.
Spend your time wandering through this 3-acre, wild woodland garden with beautiful bluebell-lined walkways, through exceptional displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, and other flowering shrubs. There are some fine trees and many outstanding views across the countryside. Enjoy the stunning paved herb garden and make sure you visit the recently restored unique 18th century walled garden.
And… now for some of the other gardens opening throughout the month
Terwick House, Rogate, Petersfield, GU31 5BY. Sunday 28 May, 2 pm to 5 pm, £6.
A brand new opening for 2023, this wild woodland garden was planted for spring interest some 40 years ago by plant collectors of rhododendron, azalea, camellia and acer. Be aware, there are winding steep paths to the south of the house. Enjoy the collection of rhododendron yakushimanum among many others and see a small pinetum and many specialist trees. Herbaceous planting is taking shape around the house and there is a small potager garden off the front driveway. Propagated cuttings and seedlings will be on sale and home-made refreshments on the lawn.
Cookscroft, Bookers Lane, Earnley, Chichester, PO20 7JG. Wednesday 10th and Saturday 13th May, 11 am to 4 pm, £5.
This is a garden for all seasons which delights the visitor. Started in 1988, it features cottage, woodland and Japanese-style gardens, water features and borders of perennials with a particular emphasis on southern hemisphere plants. There are many unusual plants for the plantsman to enjoy, many grown from seed. Eucalyptus trees provide shelter and there are many complementary southern hemisphere plants as well, notably correas, corokias, grevillea, westringia, as well as interesting woodlanders.
1 Pest Cottage, Carron Lane, Midhurst, GU29 9LF. Friday 26th and Sunday 28th May, 2 pm to 6 pm, £4.
This edge of woodland, architect’s studio garden of approx ¾ acre sits on a sloping sandy site. It was designed to support wildlife and biodiversity and a series of outdoor living spaces, connected with informal paths through lightly managed areas, creating a charming secret world, tucked into the surrounding common land. The garden spaces have made a very small house into a hospitable family home. Each space could function as a stand-alone garden, designed to expand the footprint of a house, at a fraction of the cost of building.
Seaford Gardens, Seaford, BN25 1QH. Sunday 21st May, Midday to 5 pm, £7.
Five gardens open in the seaside town of Seaford. Cosy Cottage, a cottage garden over three levels with ponds, flowers, vegetables and shrubs. Madehurst is a garden on different levels with interesting planting and seasonal interest. Burford, a mature garden with a mix of flowers, vegetables and an auricula theatre. The Community Garden provides an interesting space with flower and vegetable beds for members of the community to come together to share their gardening experience. Chyngton is a mature garden of shrubs, trees, herbaceous and vegetable beds.
Holford Manor, Holford Manor Lane, North Chailey, Lewes, BN8 4DU. Friday 26th, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May, 11 am to 4 pm, £8.
A 5-acre garden opening along with the largest iris nursery in the UK, Chailey Iris Gardens. The manor house gardens feature herbaceous borders, iris beds and formal parterre rose garden. There is a secret Chinese garden, tropical beds and a lovely cutting garden. Don’t miss the wonderful wildflower meadow along with the amazing water features! See an ornamental pond, landscaped ‘horse pond’ with water lilies and a 2-acre lake and swamp garden. Situated on the edge of Chailey Common, Holford Manor gives visitors a peaceful garden with an intimate feel. It is a real plantsman’s garden with beds and borders for all seasons. Wildlife shares the grounds, see peacocks and guinea fowl, the rare-breed sheep, geese and chickens in the paddocks. Stop by the aviary to listen to the canaries and doves too.
With plenty to see in the gardens listed, there are many more wonderful plots opening the garden gate across the month of May. Do take a look on the scheme’s website at www.ngs.org.uk
In addition to the public open day gardens, there are many plots 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.
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