This is the time of year for the wonderful tree peony
The tree peony is an ancient plant which was revered by Japanese emperors 1000 years ago. They flower from early April until late May …..The papery flamboyant blooms and interesting foliage gives the impression that the plants are delicate but they are not!
This one is called Paeonia suffruticosa. It is also known as Chinese Tree Peony or Moutan peony.
You can see it in the side border at Rosebud Cottage and find them growing in the gardens at Highdown near Worthing. The gardens are open all year and admission is free. They are within easy reach of Steyning. Details at http://www.highdowngardens.co.uk/
The magnificent landscaped gardens at Sheffield Park are especially popular in autumn.
‘Capability’ Brown designed the wonderful layout in the eighteenth century. It was developed further in the early years of the 20th century by its owner, Arthur G Soames. The centrepiece is the original four lakes.
The gardens are lovely throughout the year. You’ll find dramatic shows of daffodils and bluebells in spring. The rhododendrons, azaleas and stream garden are spectacular in early summer. Autumn brings stunning colours from the many rare trees and shrubs …perhaps the best time to visit?
in the late 1800’s, Ludwig Messel, a member of a German Jewish family, settled in England and bought the Nymans estate. This had a house with 600 acres overlooking the picturesque High Weald of Sussex.
He set about creating the estate into a place for family life and entertainment. He developed an Arts and Crafts-inspired garden room. This had topiary features which contrasted with new plants from temperate zones around the world. His son Colonel Leonard Messel built the picturesque stone manor in 1915. He and his wife Maud extended the garden and subscribed to seed collecting expeditions in the Himalayas and South America.
The garden reached a peak in the 1930s and was regularly opened to the public. In 1947 there was a disastrous fire in the house, which now survives as a garden ruin. The house was partially rebuilt and became the home of Leonard Messel’s daughter. At Leonard Messel’s death in 1953 it was willed to the National Trust with 275 acres of woodland.
The gardens have both vibrantly colourful summer borders and tranquil ancient woodlands. There are constantly evolving planting designs and a rare and unusual plant collection.
You can eat at their cafe or visit the ‘Grab & Go’ kiosk in the tea garden. There is also an excellent large shop and plant centre.
You’ll find guided walks and talks in the garden and woods every day. There’s a small gallery in the house with changing exhibitions for every season and even a secondhand bookshop. I joined a guided walk which was very interesting.
The National Trust describes the property as “A garden lovers’ home for all seasons, with an extensive yet intimate garden set around a romantic house and ruins”.