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This reclusive garden at Highdown was originally bought by Frederick Stern in 1909 when he was 25. Sir Frederick and Lady Stern worked for 50 years producing this garden in a chalk pit, to prove that many plants could thrive on chalk with little soil.
The garden was developed in a period when it was fashionable for many plant collecting expeditions to China and the Himalayan regions and Sir Frederick subscribed to such expeditions including one made in 1914 by Reginald Farrer. Many of the original plants from the early collections can still be seen in the garden today, particularly plants collected by Farrer and Ernest Henry Wilson.
On the death of Sir Frederick in 1967 Lady Stern followed his wishes and left the Garden to Worthing Borough Council. To the councils great credit, not only is the garden very well maintained but is open throughout the year with free admission. I strongly recommend a visit especially in March or April.
The nine acre garden offers a unique collection of rare plants and trees and the whole garden has been deemed a National Collection. The garden is at its most colourful in spring and early summer with a succession of bulbs including Snowdrops, Crocus, Daffodils and Anemones, followed later by Peonies and Bearded Iris. The views from the gardens are beautiful and include the sea and the South Downs.
Highdown Gardens is located off the A27 Littlehampton Road at Goring By Sea near Worthing, West Sussex.