Things are really taking shape up on Highdown Hill as the world famous gardens get ready to reveal their new look in the Spring.
A £800,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) sponsored project is improving the visitor experience and also, crucially, backing work to catalogue and preserve the many exotic plants which grow in the chalky soil and which were brought from around the world by the gardens owner and horticultural pioneer Sir Frederick Stern.
Developers have now converted the old head gardener’s bungalow into a state-of-the-art visitor centre, with access for disabled people, which will tell the remarkable story of the gardens; and a new central, wheelchair-friendly, walkway which leads to a new sensory garden has been completed.
In addition the existing greenhouse has been refurbished, and a brand new greenhouse constructed to enable newly-appointed plant experts to protect the fragile plants that exist in the 8.5 acre gardens.
In the meantime project managers are preparing for opening in April and will introduce some preview tours for invited guests and lottery players in March. It is expected that the toilet block, next to the car park, which is being refurbished as part of the project will be re-opened before Christmas.