Top 10 Public Gardens in Sussex


Shake off the winter blues by visiting some wonderful Sussex National Garden Scheme Gardens this March

The Old Vicarage: A Regency-Era Retreat

the old vicarage

March 7, 14, 21, 28

The Street, Washington, Sussex RH20 4AS

The 3½ acre garden at The Old Vicarage is set around an 1832 Regency house (not open) in the pretty village of Washington, West Sussex. The garden has many pockets of interest and stunning views towards the North Downs, enhanced by mature and various specimen trees. There is a Japanese garden with its waterfall, pond, bamboo, grasses, a large water garden, and numerous creatively planted herbaceous borders. A working kitchen garden has glasshouses, fruit cages, orchards, 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 onto the woodland copse area, which incorporates a stream and architectural stumpery. Everyone loves the topiary of characters who watch over the tennis court. In the spring, there is an abundance of bulbs throughout snowdrops, daffodils, tulips, fritillaria, camassia, and bluebells. Whatever the weather, there is a haven in the conservatory where refreshments are available.

The Old Vicarage is open for the National Garden Scheme every Thursday until 10 October, 10 am-5 pm. Admission £7, children free. Pre-booking on the National Garden Scheme website is essential.

Pembury House: Woodland Wonders

pembury house

March 1, 7, 8

Ditchling Road, Clayton, West Sussex BN6 9PH

Pembury House is a country garden, tidy but not manicured. Depending on the vagaries of the season, the hellebores and snowdrops are at their best in February and March. Winding paths give a choice of walks through three acres of garden, which enjoys views of the South Downs National Park. Suitable footwear, macs, and winter woollies are advised. A German visitor observed, ‘This is the perfect woodland garden’. Year-round interest.

1 pm-5 pm. Admission £11, children free. Time Slots are at 10.30 am and 2 pm. Pre-booking on the National Garden Scheme website is essential.

Nymans: Rare Blooms and Family History


March 16

Staplefield Road, Handcross, Sussex RH17 6EB

One of NT’s premier gardens with rare and unusual plant collections of national significance. See blossoms, bulbs, and a stunning collection of subtly fragranced magnolias in spring. Inspired by Maud Messel’s 1920s design, the Rose Garden is scented with hints of old-fashioned roses. The comfortable yet elegant house, a partial ruin, reflects the personalities of the creative Messel family.

10 am-5 pm. Admission is £17, children £8.50. This garden also makes a donation to Plant Heritage.

Bates Green Garden: Serenity Through Seasons

bates green garden

March 17 

Tye Hill Road, Arlington, East Sussex BN26 6SH

This plant woman’s tranquil garden provides interest through the seasons. Woodland garden created around a majestic oak tree, with a colour themed middle garden. Courtyard

gardens with seasonal container displays. Front garden a spring and autumn joy with narcissi, primroses, violets then coloured stems and leaves of cornus and salix. Wildlife pond and wildflower meadow. Gardened for nature and wildlife.

10.30 am-4 pm. Admission is £7, children £3. Pre-booking on the National Garden Scheme website is essential. Refreshments in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Denmans Garden: Landscape Design Heritage

denmans garden

March 17

Denmans Lane, Fontwell, Sussex BN18 0SU

Created by Joyce Robinson, a brilliant pioneer in gravel gardening and former home of influential landscape designer John Brookes MBE. Denmans is a Grade II registered 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 gardens, ponds, and conservatories.

11 am-4 pm. Admission is £9, children £7. Pre-booking is essential. Please contact the garden owner, Gwendolyn van Paasschen, at [email protected] or 01243 278950.

Manor of Dean: Restorative English Elegance

manor of dean crocus

March 17

Petworth, Sussex GU28 9AP

Approximately three acres of traditional English garden with extensive views of the South Downs. Herbaceous borders, early spring bulbs, bluebell woodland walk, walled kitchen garden with fruit, vegetables, and cut flowers. It is currently under a long term programme of restoration, so some parts of the garden may be affected.

2 pm-4 pm. Admission is £5, and children are free. Pre-book on the National Garden Scheme website or pay on the day.

King John’s Lodge: A Family’s Flourishing Project

king johns lodge

March 23

Sheepstreet Lane, Etchingham, Sussex TN19 7AZ

A four-acre romantic garden for all seasons. This is an ongoing family project since 1987 with new areas completed in 2020. From the eclectic shop, nursery, and tearoom, stroll past a wildlife pond through an orchard with bulbs, a meadow, a rose walk, and fruit according to the season. Historic house (not open) has a broad lawn, fountain, herbaceous border, pond, and ha-ha.

10 am-5 pm. Admission £5 (cash payment), children free.

Down Place: Expansive South Downs Panoramas

down place

March 23-24

South Harting, Petersfield, West Sussex GU31 5PN

The garden at Down Place is set on the South Downs with panoramic views out to the undulating wooded countryside. The garden merges seamlessly into its surrounding landscape with rose and herbaceous borders that have been moulded into the sloping ground. A well-stocked vegetable garden and walks shaded by beech trees surround the natural wildflower meadow where various native orchids flourish.

1.30 pm-5.30 pm. Admission £5, children free.

Judy’s Cottage Garden: Intimate Cottage Charm

judys cottage garden

March 29

33 The Plantation, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 2AE

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, a small fish pond, and other water features. There is also a pretty log cabin overlooking the garden.

10.30 am–3.30 pm. Admission £5, children free.

Tranquility at 47 Denmans Lane

denmans lane

March 30

Lindfield, Haywards Heath, Sussex RH16 2JN

This beautiful and tranquil one-acre garden has been described as a ‘garden where plants star’. Created by the owners over the past 20 years, it is planted for interest throughout the year. Azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, and herbaceous perennials follow spring bulbs. The garden also has ponds and vegetable and fruit gardens.

10 am-5 pm. Admission £7.

The National Garden Scheme: A Tradition of Generosity and Wellness

The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands and raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, tea, and cake.

Thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers, and visitors, they have donated over £67 million to nursing and health charities. In 2023, they made donations of £3,403,960, and their core beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, and The Queen’s Nursing Institute.

The National Garden Scheme doesn’t just open beautiful gardens for charity – they are also passionate about gardens’ physical and mental health benefits. They also support charities doing amazing work in gardens and health and grant bursaries to help community gardening projects.

To find out more and to book a visit to any of the gardens listed, head to ngs.org.uk

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