Nestled in the spectacular Sussex countryside, Borde Hill Garden is a true treasure trove for garden enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
With its stunning collection of rare trees and shrubs, beautifully manicured lawns, and tranquil water features, this Grade II listed garden is a haven of peace and tranquillity. It offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So if you’re looking to explore its winding paths or relax among its vibrant blooms, Borde Hill Garden has something to offer everyone.
*Post updated April 2023*
The information in this post details a sculpture event I visited in the gardens, which is no longer on show. However, the other garden areas remain the same, as shown in the photographs.
I revisited the gardens in April 2023, which are as beautiful as they were on my first visit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Borde Hill Gardens
How to Get to Borde Hill Garden
By train – London Bridge or Victoria to Haywards Heath (45 minutes) and then by taxi from the station.
By car – postcode/sat nav RH16 1XP Haywards Heath
Entry Prices and Opening Times
Adult– £10.50 / Child (aged 3-16) – £7.00
Child under 3 – Free
Carer – Free
10 am to 5 pm daily (6 pm weekends May to September)
Last admission one hour before closing
Where to Eat at Borde Hill Garden
The Gardener’s Retreat is by the main lawn and offers sandwiches, drinks and ice cream.
Where to stay in Haywards Heath, the area around Borde Hill Garden
South Lodge – 5 star
The Cowdray Arms – 4 star
Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa – 3 star
The Ardingly Inn – 3 star
The Birch Hotel – 3 star
Events at Borde Hill
On my first visit to Borde Hill Garden, a sculpture trail event was on, and as I love art and form, this allowed me to wander around the formal gardens and discover sculptures scattered within stunning natural settings.
Borde Hill Garden hold a wide range of events, from music in the gardens to workshops, yoga classes and the annual Rose Festival; there is undoubtedly something for everyone to enjoy.
Things to See on a Day Out to Borde Hill Garden
The Gardeners’ Retreat
I’m not sure about you, but I always like to start my visit with a coffee and maybe (well, nearly always) a piece of something sweet!
The Gardeners’ Retreat serves a perfectly made flat white and English tea, something that is often lacking in other establishments.
It is located near the Old Rhododendron Garden, showcasing some of the first Chinese Rhododendrons to be introduced to Britain in the 19th century.
Wooden picnic tables are dotted about the South lawn, providing the perfect spot to enjoy the far-reaching views of the Sussex High Weald, South Park, and the beautiful Borde Hill House.
Borde Hill Garden History
The Grade ll listed English heritage garden is privately owned and consists of an Elizabethan manor house and extensive gardens, with 200 acres of parkland.
The manor house dates back to 1598 and was built by the physician Stephen Borde. His grandfather had connections to royalty, including Henry Vlll.
The historic estate was sold several times before Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke purchased it in 1893, making the current owners Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke fourth-generation custodians.
Over the centuries, Borde Hill’s historic landscape has been lovingly tended and, in places, re-designed into the spectacular grounds that visitors can see today.
Indeed, Borde Hill’s intimate series of outdoor ‘rooms’ still have plant species not found elsewhere in Britain.
Plant hunters collected these plants from all the corners of the earth at a time when khaki-clad adventurers would undertake Indiana-style botanical quests to bring home something wonderful that had never been seen before.
These voyages took place under the instruction of Colonel Clarke in his ‘Great Project’.
Borde Hill Grounds
What caught my eye and drew me across the South Lawn was the sculpture “Greer – Guardian Angel ” by Ed Elliott.
As I love mythical beings, this one caught my attention. I liked the modern sculpture’s juxtaposition against the old house’s backdrop; for me, they worked together in perfect harmony.
If you fancy a walk before or after visiting the outdoor garden rooms, South Park is an area of parkland across from the South Lawn and comprises two lakes and three routes, all of varying distances taking from 15 minutes to 80 minutes.
The larger lake is named Robertsmere after Robert Stephenson Clarke, the current owner’s great-grandfather, and the smaller is Harry’s Lake, named after his grandson.
Jay Robin’s Rose Garden
After taking a ton of photos of “Greer”, I continued back across the south lawn to the mesmerising Jay Robin’s Rose Garden, named after the owner’s daughter.
The striking centrepiece of the garden is the water fountain designed in the form of a beautiful woman holding a posy of flowers, with her long hair trailing down her back.
Small pathways lined with lavender and box hedges lead you through beds with 100 varieties of David Austin roses.
In summer, they are in full bloom, and I hope to return and experience their scent and colour for myself at the Rose Event in June.
The display is apparently phenomenal, making Borde Hill one of the best gardens to visit in Sussex.
Mediterranean Garden and Greenhouses
One of the pathways led through to the Mediterranean Garden, where I discovered the Victorian greenhouses still used today.
I spotted a small lemon tree growing inside one of them – perhaps in readiness for G & T’s on the lawn in the summertime!
In the 1930s, the estate gardeners would spend much of their time tending and propagating ornamental trees and plants in these greenhouses.
Back in Jay Robin’s Garden, I was delighted to find another sculpture by Ed Elliott.
This one is named “Charred Angel” and sits on a plinth looking towards the house. You will also find some other fabulous sculptures in this area but keep an eye open as I nearly missed the tiny figure sitting in this white marble column.
The Italian Garden and Pond
Walking away from this area, I headed along Paradise Walk to the Italian Garden. I had previously seen photographs of it and was eager to experience it. I wasn’t disappointed; the Italian Garden was delightful.
It might surprise you to find out this area used to be the family’s tennis court! The current owners converted it in 1980 into this show-stopping garden.
Hedging around the pond was lined with the most amazing show of plants called Fritillaria emeralds “Rubra”.
They were quite unusual, and I hadn’t seen them planted in any other formal gardens I had visited. I was so enamoured by their hanging tulip-shaped orange flowers and spiky green tufts that I will plant some in my garden in the Autumn.
My eyes were drawn across the water to the white statue of a female with her arms outstretched entitled “Welcoming the New Year”. She looked as if she were rejoicing at the vision before her because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t!
Wooden benches around the pond offer the perfect place to sit and enjoy the scenery and tranquillity.
The Round Dell
Continuing along Paradise Walk, I came to a sunken tropical garden quite different from the formal Italian garden next door.
A long structured pathway finishing at a point leads you through tall ferns to a waterfall structure at the end. The sound of running water in this shaded spot was quite magical.
I wandered along the winding paths around the structure and found a small area planted with bamboo.
The sun was glistening through the foliage onto the mossy floor, and if using my imagination, I could almost have been in the bamboo forests of Japan!
Old Potting Sheds
At the end of Paradise Walk are the old potting sheds used as herb gardens until 1990.
Being early spring, there was not much life here, but as the year continues, it will come to life with plant species from Chile and New Zealand.
Garden of Allah
Passing along Josephine’s Way and Long Dell will bring you to the entrance of the Garden of Allah.
Here you can see some beautiful ornate perspex discs hanging from the blossom tree as part of the sculpture trail. They catch the sunlight and turn gently in the wind, making them a simple but stunning addition to this area.
Wandering into the Garden of Allah takes you along a pathway lined with magnolia, rhododendron, and camellia trees.
Once in full bloom, these trees fill the area with vibrant and pastel colours. Some varieties were established from seeds brought back from the East by the 1920’s great “plant hunters”.
A wooden pavilion offers a shady resting spot on warm sunny days with views across the surrounding Sussex parkland.
On my visit, the pavilion offered a vantage point to enjoy even more perspex discs, this time with initials inside them, hanging from the huge tree in the middle of this sheltered dell.
A grassy track leads from the Garden of Allah to Stephanie’s Glade, the perfect place for a woodland walk.
In May and June, this area is awash with huge rhododendron trees and a carpet of bluebells. Sadly I had arrived after a cold snap, and the bluebells hadn’t shown their heads yet; however, I am assured that the display is fantastic.
There are two routes: Warren Wood is a circular 30-minute walk. The Warren Wood and Stephanie Glade combined circular walk takes a leisurely 60 minutes.
Keep an eye out for rare and exotic species in this area. The “Pocket Handkerchief Tree” was introduced in 1901 and displayed leaves resembling handkerchiefs. The “Temple Juniper”, introduced in 1861, is considered a sacred tree from Japan often planted close to temples.
Parkland Views of the Ouse Valley
Following the pathway along the edge of Borde Hill, we were rewarded with stunning views of the English countryside. You can see the Ouse Valley Viaduct from this point, another popular place to visit in West Sussex.
Completed in 1842 and given the title “the most elegant viaduct in Britain”, the Ouse Valley viaduct was used to carry the London to Brighton railway line over the River Ouse. It is now a popular spot for photographers due to the height and design of its 37 arches.
I visited the viaduct last year and enjoyed capturing shots from different angles; you can see the images in the link above.
Azalea Ring and Children’s Playground
Arriving back at the start of the circular walk around the grounds, you will find the azalea ring. In late May, the Azalea Ring bursts into a kaleidoscope of colour.
Blooms of orange, yellow, red, pink, and white will delight all visitors. I arrived too early in the season and missed this glorious event, but it gives me a reason to return!
A well-equipped children’s playground for the little ones to let off some steam can be found here, and a lovely shop to purchase plants and gardening gifts as a memento of a perfect day out in West Sussex at Borde Hill Garden.
If you enjoy beautiful English gardens and reconnecting to nature, you will love Borde Hill Garden. You can spend the day here and incorporate lunch at one of the on-site eateries.
Or bring a blanket and your favourite nibbles and enjoy an alfresco picnic on the lawn in front of the manor house.
For more event information, please check out the Borde Hill Garden website.
If you still have time to spare, visit the Ouse Valley Viaduct, a magnificent feat of engineering along the road leading to Borde Hill.
If you want to experience two other beautiful Sussex gardens, why not visit Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens or Sussex Prairie Gardens, a 20-minute drive from Borde Hill Garden?
I received a complimentary invite to Borde Hill Garden; however, all opinions about this visit are my own. I revisited in April 2023 as a member of Historic Houses.
You May Also Like to Read:
The Best Things to do in West Sussex and East Sussex