Highdown Gardens, a distinguished rarity

Highdown Gardens is one of a distinguished group of gardens that opened in aid of the National Garden Scheme in the very first year of opening, 1927 and are still opening over 90 years later. At that time the garden belonged to its creator, the distinguished botanist and horticulturalist, Sir Frederick Stern. Since his death in 1967 it has belonged to and been managed by Worthing Borough Council.

The unique feature of the garden at Highdown is that it was made on chalk, situated as it is on the edge of the South Downs overlooking the seaside town of Worthing. Stern used the natural chalk landscape as the background for a remarkable collection of plants that he built up and which has been maintained and added to in more recent years.

Browse some of that collection now with our carousel for rare plants:

A closer look

Particular rarities include plants grown from seed brought back from expeditions abroad by some of the most renowned plant collectors of the 20th century such as Frank Kingdon-Ward, in particular rare trees and shrubs. As well as a succession of bulbs from snowdrops in late-winter to an array of narcissus in spring, the garden is famous for its collection of luxuriant tree-peonies.


Highdown Gardens offers 8½ acres of stunning informal gardens on downland countryside overlooking the sea. Two of its most popular trees with visitors in late spring are the Handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata) and the Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum). The whole garden has been deemed a National Collection.

Awarded a coveted Green Flag Award, a national standard for quality parks and green spaces, with winners judged to be welcoming and well maintained and with the support and involvement of the local community. The garden also holds a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, and has held a Gold Award from South & South East in Bloom Heritage garden category since 2016.

Improvements to the garden are underway but find out when it next opens here


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