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Discover the secret gardens of West Sussex

If you’re looking for inspiration for a daytrip where you can make the most of your natural surroundings before the autumn chill creeps in, and perhaps even catch some late-blooming perennials, a visit to one of West Sussex’s gardens is a must.

Maybe not quite ‘secret’ as such but, with many of these landscapes tucked away behind old flint walls or magically seeming to double in size and unfold before your eyes, these hidden gems are just waiting to be discovered.

Here’s our round-up of the best gardens to explore throughout West Sussex.

Cover image: Denmans Garden, Arundel

Chichester

Bishop’s Palace Gardens

A little oasis of calm in the beautiful walled-city of Chichester, Bishop’s Palace Gardens appears as a lovely surprise between the Cathedral and roman City Walls. You’d be forgiven for not noticing it, but locals know this peaceful place well and often frequent the grounds for lunchtime picnics and floral encouragement.

Landscape photo of Bishop's Palace Gardens with Chichester Cathedral in the background

Chichester City walls around Bishop Palace Gardens

West Dean Gardens

On the edge of the River Lavant and overlooking the Lavant valley in the South Downs National Park, West Dean Gardens is a real treat. A gloriously restored garden, look out for the impressive 100-metre long pergola, working Victorian glasshouses and the walled kitchen garden. A stroll to the Spring Garden and ponds reveals quaint flint bridges, secret walkways and tranquil seating areas.

Maidenhair trees at West DeanFagus Engleriana, species of Beech tree at West Dean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arundel

Denmans Garden

Small but beautifully formed, you’ll find something of interest to see throughout the year at Denmans four-acre garden located between Arundel and Chichester. Here, plantswoman Joyce Robinson and garden designer John Brookes MBE have created a contemporary space with layering and texture throughout the grounds. Denmans has also just been listed as a Grade II post-war garden on the National Heritage List for England.

Denmans GardenDenmans Garden

Petworth

Petworth House and Park

Petworth House is surrounded by extensive 700-acre grounds, including a deer park and the informal yet immaculate Pleasure Ground, which was landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century. Dogs are very welcome within the grounds, with the deer park a great place to let them run off lead.
Long stretches of lawn at Petworth House and GardensA family photo on a walking trail

Horsham

Leonardslee Lake and Gardens

Come to Leonardslee Lake and Gardens to enjoy the atmospheric woodland walks, parkland, secret forest trails and magical lakes. The 240 acres of Grade I listed of ancient gardens have recently been restored enabling the wildlife to flourish in natural surroundings. You can spot uncommon species of trees and shrubs and there’s even a rare colony of wallabies.

Also on-site is the Michelin-starred Restaurant Interlude, a fine dining establishment inspired by Leonardslee itself, featuring freshly foraged and local ingredients. Plus, look out for Leonardslee Illuminated this December.

Leonardslee lake and treesLeonardslee Lake and Gardens in autumn

Sussex Prairie Garden

Owners Paul and Pauline emphasise the wonders of perennials and grasses, making the Sussex Prairie Garden a must-visit during the late summer to roam amongst the dreamy combinations. With soft colours and borders that encourage exploration, the garden complements the natural landscape whilst also housing various artists in residence, sculptures and exhibitions.

Grasses at the Sussex Prairie GardenSussex Prairie Garden near sunset

Crawley and East Grinstead

High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden

A visit to High Beeches and its 27 acres of woodland, water gardens and wild meadowland transports you to a timeless, otherworldly place. A harmonious balance of landscaping, natural planting and woodland makes an inviting and spacious place to explore, and a botanical treasure trove. The autumn colour from the maples, North American Nyssas and liquidambers is a spectacular sight.

High Beeches GardenHigh Beeches in the autumn

Standen House and Gardens

Surrounding the characterful Arts and Crafts house at Standen, the hillside gardens and surrounding woodland are a real treat. An ideal spot for a crisp autumn walk accompanied by your four-legged family members, you can meander through the formal gardens, ancient woodlands and meadowlands on a colourful, self-guided walking trail.

Tulips and spring flowers lining a gravel path at Standen House and GardensThe Orchard at Standen, West Sussex

Haywards Heath

Nymans

Featuring international and plant heritage collections, Nymans is mix of carefully designed planting and exuberant displays where there is always something new to uncover. Formal and informal gardens, wildflower meadows, topiary and romantic gothic stone ruins create a year-round gardeners’ dream that is one of the best in West Sussex.

Nymans Gardens purple Salvia and dragonflyFlower garden at Nymans

Borde Hill

Wandering through the gardens of Borde Hill and gazing up at the Elizabethan manor, it’s easy to imagine yourself in a period drama. This magnificent 16th century mansion is surrounded by gardens full of species of plants and shrubs collected from all over the world since 1899. Cleverly arranged garden ‘rooms’ each boast their own style and there are magnificent views across the Sussex High Weald.

The Artists' Garden at Borde Hill GardenBorde Hill purple flowers infront of building

Wakehurst Place

Covering over 500 acres, there’s plenty to see and do at Wakehurst. Take your time to explore the wetlands; the new boardwalks, seating and wooden shelter offer a tranquil space to sit and watch the birds and insects in their natural habitat. Visit the Coronation Meadow, Rock Walk and the Millenium Seed Bank with a mission to preserve the world’s plants for the future.

Don’t miss: The enchanting Glow Wild is on for 2020, with its glowing lanterns and torches and mesmerising projections.

Wakehurst Place and GardensAutumnal view across the lake at Wakehurst

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