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Highdown Gardens, Worthing

4.6
#1 of 7 in Parks in Worthing
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Highdown Gardens is situated between Ferring and Goring nestled on the South Downs and operated by Adur and Worthing Council.

Entry into the gardens is free of charge.

These stunningly beautiful gardens on downland countryside overlooking the sea, are one of the least known gardens in the area, but it is one that offers a unique collection of rare plants and trees. In fact the whole garden has been deemed a National Collection.

The 34479 sq m (8.52 acres) of garden were created out of a chalk pit overlooking the Downs, where there was little soil and very unfavourable conditions for plant growth. The Chalk Garden at Highdown is the achievement of Sir Frederick and Lady Stern who worked for 50 years to prove that plants would grow on chalk. This was during a period when many expeditions were going out to China and the Himalayan regions collecting rare and beautiful plants.

Many of the original plants from the early collections can still be seen in the garden today, particularly plants collected by two pioneering botanists Reginald Farrer and Ernest Henry Wilson.

Farrer, Reginald 1880-1920

Reginald Farrer was born at Ingleborough Hall in Clapham, North Yorkshire and from a small child was very passionate about plants and would explore hills around his home. Farrer went to Balliol College in Oxford and during his student years helped to build a rock garden in St. John's College.

Plants from many of Reginald Farrer's early expeditions to the Himalayan regions, China and Japan can be seen in Highdown Gardens today. The plant Geranium farreri is named after him. He also wrote and painted about plants and gardening.

Wilson, Ernest Henry 1876-1930

Ernest Henry Wilson was born in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire and studied at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. In 1899 Wilson was recommended by the then Director of Kew to travel to China to find a source of The Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata). Wilson not only found the source but 400 additional new plants, including the yellow poppy (Meconopsis integrifolia), many new rhododendrons, roses and primuli. He was also instrumental in discovering the Lilium regale, the large white trumpet type lily which graces many gardens.

Wilson became Director of the Arnold Arbortetum in Boston, Massachusetts in 1927 which was quite an achievement at the age of 50. Unfortunately Wilson and his wife were tragically killed in a road accident in Massachusetts in 1930.

The gardens look their best in Spring and early Summer when there is a colourful succession of spring bulbs such as Snowdrops, Crocus, Anemones and Daffodils followed by Paeonies and Bearded Iris

Opening Hours

January - Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm

February - Monday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm

March - Monday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm

April - Monday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

May - Monday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

June - Monday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

July - Monday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

August - Monday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

September - Monday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

October - Monday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm

November - Monday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm

December - Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm
A visit to Highdown Gardens represents just the start of the adventure when you use our Worthing online trip builder to plot your vacation.
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Highdown Gardens reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
712 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • These gardens are particularly beautiful in the Spring time. And are a favourite place with us. Children friendly and a peaceful haven just off a busy road.  more »
  • Had a great time with the kids. It’s a beautiful place and well looked after. We had a picnic and after eating just relaxed while admiring the beautiful plants  more »
Google
  • A lovely place to visit with children under 10. Great for imaginative games and lots of shade for picnics. Beautiful and tranquil place to visit. Lots of benches to sit and enjoy the trees and flowers from.
  • We went to Highdown Gardens after hearing some good things. Being that Highdown Gardens is right on our doorstep we should check it out. Highdown Gardens sits on 8.5 acres and created out of an old chalk pit. The chalk garden was an achievement of Sir Frederick and Lady Stern. Who worked for 50 years to prove that plants would grow on chalk. In the process creating some stunning gardens. When you enter the gardens there is a little information section. Here you can find general information about the gardens. There is also a map for the kids to find specific species of plant. This is great for helping to keep them interested. Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see, smell and enjoy. Each section has its own set of planes that are grown in that area it seems. Trying to take it all in is difficult as there is so much there. We not only saw flowers and trees but Dragonfly's, Butterfly, Birds and Bee's. Which is great to see I wish I had brought a small lunch with us so we can sit and enjoy the gardens more. Should you suffer from mobility issues there is a route that takes you round the gardens. This is chip bark in places and if you have a wheel chair with small wheels you may struggle a little. Also the path is relatively even but it is a garden and people who are unsteady on there feet need to pay attention. All in all Highdown Gardens is a beautiful site and one I will be visiting many more times with my kids and wife.

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