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3 Fine West Sussex Gardens You Should Visit in the UK: Arundel Castle, Parham House and High Beeches

Posted by Dakota Murphey on 17/12/2016
3 fine West Sussex gardens you should visit in the UK

It is a fact that Sussex has some of the finest gardens in the UK. This southern part of England is steeped in gardening history and set in hundreds of acres of unspoilt countryside. Visitors and locals are lucky to be able to enjoy formal kitchen gardens, summer glasshouses, ancient trees, chapel gardens, and wild meadow flowers and grasses. Here, Dakota Murphey, working alongside Landscape and Garden Designer Andy Sturgeon, give just three wonderful Sussex gardens you should definitely visit.

  1. Arundel Castle

The ancestoral home of the Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle is set high above the town of Arundel in West Sussex in 40 acres of countryside, with superb views of the South Downs and the Arun River. The castle includes a 19th century walled kitchen garden, a vinery, the eye-catching white garden of Fitzalan Chapel, an unusual stumpery, and its latest addition, The Collector Earl’s Garden. The gardens of the castle have been open to visitors since 1854.

Arundel Castle Gardens
photo credit: pixabay

The Collector Earl’s Garden

Oberon’s Palace, with its dramatic floating crown form the centrepiece. There are rills, water fountains and a small water grotto that add to the charm. The upper terraces are Italianate and provide a glorious display of spring tulips and summer agapanthus in enormous terracotta pots. Sub-tropical plants like canna lilies, ancient tree ferns, palms and echiums can be found on the lower terraces, where they’re protected from the cold.  

The Stumpery

Visitors enter this unusual garden through the living willow arch. Strategically placed, old tree stumps from the surrounding Norfolk Estate show off their magnificent structures and attract wildlife like hedgehogs and wood mice and insects such as stag beetles and butterflies. Around the stumps, woodland plants such as foxgloves, cowslips, ferns, euphorbias, hellebores, primroses and bluebells have been planted.

Kitchen, Chapel and Rose Garden

The formal kitchen garden has organically-grown vegetables, fruit, and cut flowers and supplies these to the castle. Restored to its former glory is the rare vinery and lean-to peach house, which was originally built in 1850.

The Fitzalan Chapel has a classic, all-white garden which is simplicity itself. And, in what was once a medieval bowling green, there’s the Rose Garden, which is filled with sweetly-perfumed, old-fashioned English roses.

Closed for the winter season, Arundel Castle and Gardens will be reopening to visitors from 1st April to 29th October 2017.

  1. Parham House

One of the country’s finest examples of Elizabethan architecture, Parham House has a Great Hall and Long Gallery. Its enduring beauty and peaceful setting have changed little since its foundation stone was laid in 1577.

The gardens at Parham House were first cultivated as far back as the 14th century by monks from the monastery of Westminster. The stately pleasure grounds are dotted with massive trees that provide shade along the edges of a dark, brooding lake – an old summerhouse on the lake’s edge evokes memories of a bygone era. There are seemingly miles and miles of gorgeous, brightly-coloured herbaceous borders, and a well-used vegetable garden.

Parham House Gardens
photo credit: finemagazin.co.uk

A favourite of the garden is the summer glasshouse, the sole remaining section of a larger E-shaped set of glasshouses. It’s filled with dancing fuchsias, heliotrope, pelargoniums, begonias and plectranthus, and the heat and the humming of bees and other insects, make it a wonderful spot to linger.

There’s also a spectacular 4-acre walled garden and orchard.Tulips andspring bulbs provide masses of colour around Easter, and the sweet-smelling roses, together with lilies and lupins are a delight to the senses. The garden is completely organic and self-sufficient and provides enough rich compost and mulch for the entire site.

Parham House and Gardens will reopen after the winter, from Easter Sunday 2017, with further details available here.

  1. High Beeches

Set in the High Weald of West Sussex, High Beeches is one of the finest gardens in South East England. With its rare collection of exotic and award-winning plants from all over the world, some truly spectacular woodland, and the exquisite water gardens, this 27-acres site is a botanical treasure trove. The garden also features the National Collection of Stewartia trees and has the most delightful ancient, acid wildflower meadows.

High Beeches Garden
photo credit: highbeeches.com

The Meadows

The first colour to show in April is yellow from the cowslips, then in May, the buttercups, yellow rattle, common bird’s-foot-trefoil, meadow vetchling, lotus cornicul, and lathyrus pratensis appear. Late in May and June sees the pink of the common spotted-orchid, the sumptuous red of red clover, and the brilliant whites of the Oxeye Daisy, plus a host of other wild flowers. Late in the summer and early autumn the beautiful devilsbit scabious and succisa pratensis add a soft, purple haze to the meadow.

Most of the grasses and wildflowers in the meadow provide food for butterflies, moths and a host of other insects. Amongst them are the carefree bumble bees and hover flies that feed on knapweed, bird’s-foot-trefoil, clover, betony, selfheal, and many more.

The caterpillars of the Large Skipper and Ringlet butterflies feed on cock’s foot, while the caterpillars of the Small Skipper feed on common sorrel and Yorkshire fog. Common Sorrel is also eaten by the Small Copper butterfly.

Many other insects can be seen in the meadow and these include beetles, spiders, grasshoppers, damselflies, crickets, dragonflies and ladybirds.

High Beeches is now closed, due to reopen to visitors on 1st April 2017 after the winter recess. Further information can be found from the website.