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Nymans Gardens

©NTPL/Stephen Robson

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Nymans is a garden for true gardening enthusiasts. It successfully combines the horticultural attributes of a plant collector's garden with a clear design which is easy on the eye.

Nymans Gardens were created by Ludwig Messel in 1890 and cared for by three generations of the family including his son Leonard and grandson Oliver, before being passed to the National Trust.

Nymans Gardens and the remains of the mock-medieval house, which was badly damaged by fire in 1947, make a unique place to visit in West Sussex. It enjoys superb views across the South Downs from the balustraded terrace. The gardens also include 275 acres of woodland in the nearby Sussex Weald which now belong to the National Trust.

©NTPL/David Levenson
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of the 50-acre formal garden of outdoor rooms include the wild garden, lake, a walled garden, a beautiful sunken garden and a pinetum. They contain many rare plants which reflect the passion of the founder and the fascinating botanical findings of the pioneering plant hunters in Victorian times.

Ludwig Messel purchased the land and the elegant regency mansion of Nymans Gardens in 1890. He worked alongside head gardener, James Comber, who worked dedicatedly at Nymans for 58 years.

The Pinetum was the first part of Nyman's Gardens to be planted. Beyond it is the wildflower meadow followed by the Arboretum. Tupelos, sweet gums and American limes were planted to produce a riot of autumnal colour.

The summer borders provide more colour with beds of annuals and perennials set off against the dark green yew topiaries. Walking along the paths is an adventure of discovery as guests pass from one garden "room" to the next.

Oliver Messel was one of the most creative theatre designers of his day. Well-known family connections include Messel's nephew, photographer Lord Snowdon, and his son Viscount Linley who is an acclaimed furniture maker. Certainly artistic design seems to run strongly through this creative family.

A tour
©NTPL/John Miller
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of the house includes Lady Rosse's library and drawing room, all filled with flowers just as they would have been in the days of the Messel family. The furniture and tapestries are much as it would have been in the 1940s. The Gothic mansion makes a romantic backdrop to the rare conifer specimens, shrubs and flowering plants.

The Wild Garden offers a spread of delicate colour in summer and the gardens enjoy a rich perfume from the more exotic plantings. The Italian Garden is an elegant and quiet place of contemplation around the tinkling fountain.

The extensive woodland has maintained trails and marked footpaths beneath the trees. Enjoy daffodils and bluebells in spring, a carpet of wild flowers in the summer and rich gold, red and yellow foliage in the autumn.

With a shop selling tastefully selected items on a garden theme and a café for refreshments, Nymans Gardens is a treasure trove of English gardening at its best.

The gardens were one of the first to be acquired by the National Trust, back in 1953, and they have continued to flourish despite wide destruction by the freak storm in 1987, which destroyed 486 irreplaceable mature trees.

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By Bus
Metrobus 273 Brighton to Crawley, 271 Haywards to Crawley. Both stop outside Nymans. Both pass Crawley rail station.

on the National Cycle Network route 20.

By road
on B2114 at Handcross, just off London to Brighton M23/A23

By train
Balcome 4 miles, Crawley 5 miles

On Foot
5 miles by footpath from Balcombe
Ordnance survey reference

Nymans Gardens Postcode for SatNav: RH17 6EB


+44 (0)1444 405 250

Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6EB

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