From a Bloomsbury Group haunt to a wildflower meadow, here's our pick of the best gardens to visit in Sussex.


Don't miss our guide to the best museum gardens and gardens to visit via public transport.

Gardens to visit in Sussex


The country home and garden for artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who created a bohemian retreat for themselves and their numerous Bloomsbury Group guests. The garden features mosaics, box hedging, gravel pathways, ponds and quirky sculpture, while the intense use of colour reflects the painting, textiles and decoration in the house. Together, the garden and house convey a sense of characterful creativity and prolific productivity.

Charleston, Firle, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6LL,

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens

Leonardslee Gardens

In this lush valley garden you'll find seven lakes that are a haven for wildlife, including voles, herons and wild mandarin ducks.

There's so much to explore in the 240 acres of grounds, including an impressive array of sculptures, a camellia walk and a beautiful rock garden. Fuel your exploration with an afternoon tea in the Grade II listed house.

Leonardslee Gardens, Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, Horsham RH13 6PP,

Loder Plants

Loder Plants, the nursery in Leonardslee’s old kitchen garden, has been owned by Sir Edmund’s great, great grandson Chris Loder since 1989. It has
an excellent collection of camellias, rhododendrons and hydrangeas. The team are very knowledgeable and love sharing their passion for plants. You can order online but it’s always fun to visit and talk to the growers. Chosen by Keith Wiley

Loder Plants, Market Garden, Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 6PP,

Great Dixter

Great Dixter’s meadows were a favourite feature of one-time head gardener Romke van de Kaa. Christopher later extended the meadow planting to Lutyens’ Topiary Lawn.

Famous garden of late plantsman Christopher Lloyd. The house and garden were originally restored by Lutyens in the 1920s to create a series of enclosures and garden themes. Unusual, sometimes outrageous, colour schemes with contrasting formal and informal areas. Interesting plants throughout in the Lloydian tradition continually expanded by head gardener Fergus Garrett. Chosen by Penelope Hobhouse

Great Dixter, Dixter Road, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH,


Designer John Brookes’ own garden demonstrates his eclectic style, combining straight lines within walls with informal more natural planting schemes. Many lessons to be absorbed here. Chosen by Penelope Hobhouse

Denmans, Fontwell, Nr Arundel, West Sussex BN18 0SU,

High Beeches

High Beeches

This hidden gem in the High Weald of Sussex delivers in every season: In spring the magnolias and camellias are under planted with swathes of daffodils and in summer the woodland glades and vistas are carpeted with bluebells and filled with the colour and fragrance of the many rhododendrons and azaleas.

In June the ancient natural acid wildflower meadow is a spectacular sight and in August the willow gentians flourish here, the only garden in the country where they are naturalized.

Autumn, meanwhile brings a glorious display of colour provided by the many nyssas and maples.

High Beeches, Handcross, West Sussex RH17 6HQ. Tel 01444 400589,

Marchants Hardy Plants

Graham Gough and his wife Lucy have created a wonderful garden, despite the horticultural challenges of an incredibly exposed, cold site with very heavy soil. Inspired by naturalistic planting styles, Graham has developed a fine collection of perennials, and his artistic eye is matched by his immense knowledge. He particularly excels at using tried-and-tested grasses, from panicums to pennisetums, which intermingle with eupatoriums, sedums and asters.

2 Marchants Cottages Mill Lane, Laughton, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6AJ,

Sussex Prairie Garden

Having planned and created gardens in Europe, Paul and Pauline McBride wanted to plant their own dream garden. The initial planting established 35,000 plants over an eight-acre site. The work required for this first stage was massive but luckily the couple had the support of 40 friends and family who got stuck in to help.

The majority of these plants were large groupings of herbaceous perennials in stunning combinations, within enormous beds based on the shape of a spiralling nautilus shell. Between the beds are broad grass walks while smaller bark-chip paths take you inside the borders, encouraging you to immerse yourself in the planting.

The hard work has paid off and the plantings are glorious, on an impressive scale. The use of contrast, harmony and proportion is inspirational with such exciting plant selections. This is a garden to showcase herbaceous perennials at their most impressive. Chosen by Tom Brown

Sussex Prairie Garden, Wheatsheaf Road, Henfield, West Sussex BN5 9AT. Tel 01273 495902,

Petworth Park

Nestled in the South Downs amid 700 acres of landscaped park and gardens, Petworth is often referred to as the 'English Versailles', and it's easy to see why.

Highlights include the Pleasure Garden, designed by ‘Capability Brown in the late 18th century. It’s a joy to see in autumn, when the maple trees turn a vivid scarlet.

Petworth House & Park, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 9LR,

Arundel Castle & Gardens

A 10-minute walk from Arundel station, Arundel Castle in West Sussex has extensive gardens that include herbaceous borders, the Wildflower Garden, Rose Garden, Stumpery and Earl Collector’s Garden – all of which are particularly impressive in April and May when the garden holds its annual Tulip Festival.

Arundel Castle & Gardens, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9AB,

Don't miss our guide to 25 gardens you can visit via public transport.


Here's our gardens to visit guide


Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.