Is this the dreamiest garden in Sussex?
Brush up on your garden design, pick up an unusual plant or just relax in stunning surroundings at Denmans, a romantic and intimate Sussex country garden.
Tucked away down a tiny road just off the A27, Denmans is a strong candidate for the county’s most hidden gem, too.
Steeped in history and heritage and bursting with stories and secrets, it’s one for a tranquil afternoon, a catch-up with friends or to calm and entertain the kids.
If you can, grab one of the on-site gardeners or trustees to talk you through the history of the garden.
Once part of the food production side of a minor estate owned by Lord Denmans, the estate changed hands several times during the 1900’s before being requisitioned by the WRAF during the Second World War.
In 1946 plantswoman and author Joyce Robinson, whose life was as rich and intriguing as Denmans itself, bought some of the estate with her husband and set about transforming it into a market garden, growing soft fruit and veg and flowers for Covent Garden Market.
After retiring, Joyce pursued gardening as a passion and converted it into a formal contemporary garden.
Her dedication was enduring – at the ripe young age of 75 she decided to add two dry riverbeds to the garden, and dug and landscaped them herself. They can still be seen today.
But it’s legendary garden designer John Brookes MBE, the first independent designer to create an exhibition garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, with which Denmans is most closely associated.
After discovering the garden in the 1970s he ended up renovating the stables, turning them into the Clock House, and moving in.
The garden was his home, hobby and teaching space until his death in 2018. It’s now run by a trust in his name and continues to be renovated in line with his vision.
Today Denmans is a true living piece of history, with a breathtaking range and diversity of plants, many of which are propagated and sold at the Plant Centre.
Trustees are still discovering new secrets, including rare roses (there are more than 50 roses growing in the garden) and unexpected additions in the glasshouses.
The gift shop is a treasure trove of gorgeous botanical goodies. The tearooms are currently closed due to Covid-19 but do keep checking, as the cake is not to be missed!