Worthing's special chalkpit garden
First, it’s free. Worthing Council runs Highdown as a sort of a highly specialised 8 acre park.
Secondly, Highdown is unusual because of the large number of plants that have been planted to thrive on the chalky downland soil.
While it’s true that plenty of acid loving plants have been introduced over the years, it’s essentially as a chalky garden that Highdown is best known.
The work of four gardening greatsHighdown owes its place in the horticultural Hall of Fame to the work of four people in particular.
Secondly Highdown needed the great plant collecting work of Reginald Farrer and EH Wilson who travelled throughout Asia in the first part of the twentieth century scooping up specimens of plants that were unheard of in Europe. Many of the great and unusual plants which Farrer and Wilson brought back to England can be seen in Highdown’s fine collection of unusual trees and plant.
Sir Frederick received his knighthood for services to horticulture and he made it his life’s mission to find out which plants could be successfully grown on chalky soil. He did this largely through trial and error and he recorded and published his findings for others to benefit from.
In 1967, when Sir Frederick died, the Stern family handed Highdown into the care of Worthing Borough Council, who have looked after it ever since. Highdown continues to be one of the foremost attractions in Worthing.
A triumph against the gardening odds
Starting a garden in 1909 with such thin soil was a fairly big ask in the first place. The salty air and strong winds, made things even tougher.
In the second world war part of the garden was dug up so food could be grown. And the 1987 hurricane ripped down plenty of spectacular trees at Highdown and left it even more exposed to the wind for a while.
But Highdown survived and flourished. The garden has been designated a National Collection by the RHS.
- Borde Hill
- Denmans Gardens
- Highdown Gardens
- Leonardslee Gardens
- Nymans Gardens
- Petworth Park Gardens
- Standen House and Gardens
- West Dean Gardens
- Gardens open to the public
- Bognor Regis
- Burgess Hill
- East Grinstead
- Haywards Heath