This year, we are going to take a look at gardens that open for the National Garden Scheme each month across the county. The scheme’s Publicity Officer for East & Mid Sussex, Geoff Stonebanks, will be guiding us through the wonderful gardens on offer. For those that don’t know, the National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Guernsey, and raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake. Despite the ongoing restrictions and uncertainty that continued throughout the early months of 2021, severely curtailing garden opening activities, the National Garden Scheme announced donations of over £3 million to its beneficiary charities.
Across the country, they have over 100 gardens opening as part of their annual snowdrop festival. Here in Sussex, there are six locations to offer. On a wintry day, there is nothing better than visiting a garden gleaming with one of the earliest flowering plants of the year. Whether you enjoy carpets of naturalised white in woodlands, meticulously grown rare varieties of snowdrops or gardens boasting a colourful mix of snowdrops, hellebores and other early spring flowers then there is something for you.
Geoff tells us, “All the gardens mentioned allow children in free and offer refreshments unless stated otherwise and many still require pre-booking online before visiting. I hope you enjoy our selection.”
Pembury House, Clayton
One of the most popular snowdrop gardens is Pembury House, Ditchling Road in Clayton, BN6 6PH, (https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/11375)
Visits can be booked from Thursday 10th February and then each subsequent Tuesday to Friday morning from 10:30 to 12:30 right through until the 11th March. It is a country garden, tidy but not manicured. Winding paths through the snowdrops give a choice of walks across 3 acres of garden which enjoys views of the South Downs National Park. Entry is £10 including refreshments.
Whitemans Close, Cuckfield
A lovely, small, bijou plot is 5 Whitemans Close, Cuckfield in Haywards Heath RH17 5DE (https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/34359).
Visits can be pre-booked on 5 different dates, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 15th and 17th February. It is a cottage garden visit for snowdrop and plant lovers, packed full of exciting and unusual winter plants, plus a large snowdrop collection which can be viewed from paths, so you can leave the wellies at home. Admission is £8 including refreshments.
Bates Green, Arlington
Opening for the first time, at this time of year, is Bates Green, Tye Hill Road, Arlington, BN26 6SH. (https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/9900)
This is a plantswoman’s 2-acre tranquil space with a woodland garden created around a majestic oak tree, and courtyard gardens with seasonal container displays. The front garden is a winter and spring joy with narcissi, primroses, violets, early tulips and coloured stems of cornus and salix. Pre-booking is essential for Sunday 20th from 10:30 to 4 pm, refreshments and light lunches will be available too.
Denmans Garden, Fontwell
The wonderful Denmans Garden, Denmans Lane, Fontwell, BN18 0SU (https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/5576) opens between 10 am and 4 pm on the 19th for pre-bookings only.
The garden is a Grade II listed post-war garden renowned for its curvilinear layout and complex plantings. Enjoy year-round colour, unusual plants, structure and fragrance in the gravel gardens, faux riverbeds, intimate walled garden, ponds and conservatory.
Here entrance is £9 and children will pay £7.
Highdown Gardens, Goring / Worthing
Highdown Gardens, 33 Highdown Rise, Littlehampton Road, Goring-by-Sea, BN12 6FB opens on the 16th from 10 am to 4:30 pm, entry here is by donation.
These unique chalk gardens are home to rare plants and trees. The new visitor centre shares stories of the plants and people behind the gardens. New accessible paths, a project to propagate and protect rare plants and a sensory garden with a secret sea view are all here to be discovered.
Manor of Dean, Petworth
There are approximately 3 acres of traditional English garden with extensive views of the South Downs here, and you can wander amongst the herbaceous borders, brimming with early spring bulbs. Check out the bluebell woodland walk, walled kitchen garden with vegetables and cutting flowers.
I sincerely hope you enjoy your visits this month and look forward to advising you of the stunning gardens we have for you in March. If you enjoyed this post about where to find snowdrops in Sussex, or want more information about Sussex gardens, visit www.ngs.org.uk or you can call 01483 211535 during office hours for information, alternatively, contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org