It’s official! Spring has sprung and Geoff Stonebanks is back, along with Kate Harrison (they are the two Publicity Officers for East/Mid and West Sussex, respectively) with their suggestions for NGS gardens to visit in March!
Geoff writes, “The 19th March sees Mother’s Day and one of my choices, Bates Green in Arlington, opens on that date and is the perfect place to take your Mum for that very special treat. The 20th of March sees the first day of spring and on the 26th March the clocks go forward, giving us all more daylight hours to visit wonderful gardens. Against this backdrop, we hope the temperatures will start to rise too. Here are six choices of glorious Sussex gardens to visit in March.”
The NGS openings got off to a great start last month with the first snowdrops, which proved very popular indeed. Full details on all openings can be found at www.ngs.org.uk
Down Place, South Harting, Petersfield, GU31 5PN
25th, 26th March, 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm, £5.
Set on the South Downs, with panoramic views out to the undulating wooded countryside, this is a garden that merges seamlessly into its surrounding landscape, with rose and herbaceous borders that have been moulded into the sloping ground. There is a well-stocked vegetable garden and walks, shaded by beech trees, which surround the natural wildflower meadow where various native orchids flourish.
Judy’s Cottage Garden, 33 The Plantation, Worthing BN13 2AE
31st March, 11 am to 4 pm, £5.
A beautiful medium-sized cottage garden with something of interest all year round. The garden has several mature trees creating a feeling of seclusion. The informal beds contain a mixture of shrubs, perennials, cottage garden plants and spring bulbs. There are little hidden areas to enjoy as well, a small fish pond and other water features. In addition, there is a pretty log cabin overlooking the garden.
Manor of Dean, Tillington, Petworth, GU28 9AP
5th and 21st March, 2 pm to 5 pm, £5.
Wander around approximately 3 acres of traditional English garden where there are extensive vistas of the South Downs. Enjoy many herbaceous borders, lots of early spring bulbs, the wonderful bluebell woodland walk, and walled kitchen garden, brimming with fruit, vegetables and cutting flowers. The garden is under a long-term programme of restoration, meaning some areas may be affected during your visit.
Nyman’s, Staplefield Road, Handcross, Sussex, RH17 6EB
18th March 10 am to 5 pm, £16, child £8.
One of the National Trust’s premier gardens with a rare and unusual plant collection of national significance. This is a garden for all seasons, set around a romantic house and partial ruins. The elegant house reflects the personalities and stories of the talented Messel family. In spring see blossom, bulbs and a stunning collection of subtly fragranced magnolias. The Rose Garden, inspired by Maud Messel’s 1920s design, is scented by hints of old-fashioned roses. Dramatic shows of vibrant native tree colour in autumn precede winter’s structural form when the garden is filled with pockets of perfumed daphne. Discover hidden corners through stone archways, walk along tree-lined avenues while surrounded by the lush countryside of the Sussex Weald. The adjoining woodland, with a lake and bird hides, has plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.
Bates Green, Tye Hill Road, Arlington, East Sussex, BN26 6SH
Mother’s Day 19th March, pre-booking essential. 10 am to 4 pm, £6, child £3.
This 1.5-acre garden has been owned by the McCutchan family since 1921 and was developed and skilfully planted by Carolyn McCutchan when she moved to the property in 1968. The garden was renowned for its colourful imaginative planting and Bates Green was featured in many magazine articles. Since Carolyn’s death in 2019, the garden has been undergoing a period of restoration by a small team of gardeners led by Emma Reece who was a student of Carolyn’s in 2002. The garden surrounds the farmhouse, which was originally a small gamekeeper’s cottage. The soil is neutral pH heavy Weald Clay much improved with homemade compost. The garden has very distinct areas, which enable plants from different ecological conditions to thrive including a small pond to encourage wildlife. In the Woodland Garden spring bulbs abound followed by herbaceous woodlanders and hardy cyclamen. In the more formal shaped Middle Garden colour is the main theme, starting with tulips and alliums, and then herbaceous and woody plants take over until 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. Bates Green is in a tranquil setting, surrounded by pastures grazed by sheep with views to the South Downs. The 6-acre conservation meadow adjoining the garden contains a wealth of flora and fauna. It is traditionally managed with mown paths and seating for visitors. 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 from autumn through to spring. The garden is managed with wildlife in mind and is naturalistic with a relaxed feel.
King John’s Lodge, Sheepstreet Lane, Etchingham, TN19 7AZ
25th March, 11 am to 5 pm, £5.
A 4-acre romantic garden for all seasons which has been an ongoing family project since 1987, with new areas completed in 2020. From the eclectic shop, nursery and tearoom, stroll past the wildlife pond through an orchard with bulbs, meadows, rose walk and fruit according to the season. The historic house has a broad lawn, fountain, herbaceous border, pond and ha-ha. The romantic gardens of King John’s Lodge are as beautiful as they are tranquil and have captured the hearts of many a garden writer both in the UK and abroad. With the stunning house as its backdrop, it is surrounded by a wild garden with ancient apple trees and a meadow and a secret pond with a woodland walk featuring a statue of Oberon and Titania. Enjoy your March garden visits and look out for the next feature on gardens opening in April for the scheme.
Full details on all the gardens listed can be found at www.ngs.org.uk. If you’ve enjoyed this post about NGS Gardens to Visit in March, you may also like: