Highdown Gardens in West Sussex will be closing for improvement works to take place.
In order to deliver on a £1m project to protect the fragile plant collection and enhance the visitor experience the Gardens will be closed from December 21 and will reopen in late summer next year.
The improvements will be funded by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The work will include building new greenhouses to help the propagation and preservation of extremely rare plants from around the world, building a brand new visitors’ centre, explore and digitise the archive of this fascinating landmark, create new accessible walkways and a sensory garden.
The 8.5 acre gardens are internationally important because they are home to hundreds of rare plants and trees uniquely grown on chalk soil.
A plant heritage officer funded under the project is already at work cataloguing the hundreds of rare and exotic plants Sir Frederick bredand grew at Highdown including many from plant hunters he sponsored on trips around the world. Many of these have not been identified in recent times and could add to the Garden’s importance as a National Collection.
Several of the rare plant specimens have been selected as valuable additions to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex.
Although Highdown Gardens will effectively have to be treated as a building site until the summer they will be open on two special days when access will be available through the lower garden. The dates will be Sunday February 2, 2020 for a snowdrops tour and Thursday March 19, 2020 for a spring bulb day.