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Wakehurst Place is managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and was leased from from the National Trust in 1965 entrance is free to NT members.
It is situated on the High Weald of Sussex near Ardingly (off the M23 jct 10). The higher rainfall, moisture retentive soils and a range of microclimates serve to complement the conditions at Kew and allow the cultivation of many additional plant collections.
Fine collections of temperate trees and shrubs were originally established by Gerald Loder (First Lord Wakehurst) between 1903 and 1936 and added to by Sir Henry Price up to 1963
The gardens are set around a striking Elizabethan mansion built in 1590, which houses the gift shop and nearby restaurant. Footpaths and trails lead through sweeping woodlands of native and exotic trees all containing year round displays of wild flowers.
The attractions include a Himalayan Glade, extensive Water Gardens, cottage style planting in the Walled Gardens and a diverse range of mammals, birds, insects and wildflowers. My first visit was made in late March so the displays were limited to spring flowers and the Winter Garden display, but a second visit in late October captured the Autumn foliage.
Wakehurst is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank which will eventually save seeds from some 24,000 plants. The exhibition is open to visitors who can explore the the work of the project around the globe through interactive touch screens and many exhibits. The scientists and botanists can also be observed at work processing the seeds.