Parks, Gardens & Wildlife
For garden lovers, there’s a veritable feast of attractions to explore across our corner of West Sussex. You might recognise Head Gardener of West Dean Gardens, Tom Brown ,from his regular column in BBC Gardener’s World Magazine or his column in The Telegraph. West Dean is one of the greatest restored gardens open to the public today - a real gardener’s paradise with its impressive Victorian glasshouse, sunken and walled gardens and seasonal planting, as well as historic features and even the odd surreal tree. You can even sign up to a garden-themed short course here to hone your green-fingered skills.
Each Spring, Arundel Castle’s impressive Tulip Festival produces breath-taking displays of thousands of blooms in a glorious rainbow of colours. Nearby Denmans Garden has interest in all seasons with its creative, exotic and often architectural planting combinations with peaceful places to sit and take it all in offering inspiration and design ideas for gardeners of all levels and with gardens of all sizes. The ever-evolving Woolbeding Gardens, managed by the National Trust, is a magical experience, where formal gardens merge into the far-reaching rural landscape of the River Rother, a perfect backdrop for the many sculptures and follies you’ll come across. A masterpiece of colour and design, you’ll lose hours exploring this carefully cultivated and constantly evolving garden. Hidden in the centre of Chichester, savour tranquil surroundings of trees, colourful planting and awe-inspiring views of the Cathedral in Bishops Palace Gardens.
Acres of space for adventure
At Petworth the grounds of Petworth House provide over 700 acres of Capability Brown designed parklands where the herd of fallow deer roam freely, and where you’ll see the very views to the South Downs which have inspired artists like JMW Turner. Incredible views are also on offer at from the gardens of the National Trust’s Uppark House. Perched high in the downs, the grounds are thoughtfully planted, and newly restored pathways wind themselves around the beautiful regency garden, giving visitors glimpses of the spectacular theatre Humphry Repton hoped visitors to Uppark would experience in the 1800s.
Get closer to Nature
Located in one of the sunniest spots in the South, adjacent to the South Downs National Park and just a few miles from the coast, Chichester and its surrounding areas boast a variety of opportunities to be immersed in nature and to spot wildlife – from waterside walks to important nature reserves. The RSPB reserves of Pagham Harbour and Medmerry are some of the most important sites for nature on the south coast, in particular for wetland birds. It’s possible to see up to 60 species in one visit – binoculars at the ready!
Glorious Green Spaces in the city
Nestled within the historic city of Chichester, Priory Park is home to the remains of a Norman motte, as well as the Guildhall, and from here you can explore the Roman city walls. Unbeknownst to some, the Chichester Canal sits just a few minutes walk from the thriving high streets, and is a wildlife haven. Scheduled Canal Boat trips allows you to meet the resident swans, geese, moorhens, coots – and if you’re lucky, you might just see a flash of Kingfisher turquoise.
Soak up the South Downs
The heart of the South Downs National Park, the market town of Midhurst is surrounded by some of Sussex’s most stunning countryside. From rolling hills and wooded forests to heathland which provides important habitats for rare species of wildlife. Explore Cowdray Estate’s walks and discover Benbow Pond, and the deer park, home to the Queen Elizabeth Oak rumoured to be almost 1,000 years old.