From rose festivals to Jubilee celebrations. National Trust gardens across Surrey and Sussex are filled with colour and events this summer.
Here’s a roundup of what to see this season at Polesden Lacey, Claremont Landscape Garden, Nymans, Sheffield Park and more. Including summer outdoor theatre, audio tours and top tips from National Trust gardeners.
Polesden Lacey, Surrey
This summer celebrate the Platinum Jubilee at Polesden Lacey, enjoy a Rose Festival or sit back and listen to live jazz. Walk through the formal gardens and breathe in the sumptuous aromas from the Rose Garden. Or wander along the herbaceous borders which are full of colour and delight.
- Over the Platinum Jubilee extended bank holiday, Polesden Lacey is turning back the clocks to the era of the Queen’s coronation with a fifties-themed celebration. With live music on the terrace from 1pmeach day, the South Lawn is the perfect place to meet with friends and family and enjoy a picnic whilst soaking in the stunning views across the valley. Friday is our special day with train rides in the garden and a chance to meet our ranger team. A Jubilee Treasure trail is available for families all week during May half term.
- From 11th June, the popular Rose Festival is back at Polesden Lacey. Prepare to be tickled pink, white and yellow by the gorgeous blooms in the stunning Edwardian walled rose garden. Lazy Jazz Sundays are returning too – every Sunday from 5th June to the end of summer.
- Senior Gardener Clare Silver shares her top tips of what to look out for: ‘The Edwardian walled rose garden has over 2000 sumptuous roses, including over 100 rambling roses on the pergola. In the centre there are around 35 different varieties of hybrid tea roses, floribunda and hybrid musk types, all in bloom from June to late August and beyond. There will be a rose installation from the Camelia Botna Foundation Rose in the Rose Garden, plus floral installations and displays in the house and visitor welcome area, plus bouquet workshops, garden tours, and even a potpourri bar. Plus look out for rose themed treats in the cafes, including the delicious rose cake.’
Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey
Steeped in nearly 300 years of history, this eighteenth-century garden is a green oasis in the heart of Surrey. Previously the countryside retreat of queens and heirs, Claremont has always been somewhere to escape everyday life and enjoy simple pleasures. This summer you can enjoy picnics by the lake, take a trip on a rowing boat, chill out on a deckchair, try cloud watching from the top of the amphitheatre, or enjoy an evening theatrical performance.
- The Big Jubilee Lunch Garden Party is on Sunday 5th June. Join in a celebratory picnic in the gardens. Claremont’s 300 year old grass amphitheatre will be open and there will be garden games available for families to play together.
- During half term, families are invited to complete a quest to earn a Crown badge and learn more about Claremont’s royal owners and unique links to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. 10am-3pm daily, £3 per quest, normal admission applies.
- In the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, there are many royal connections to discover at Claremont Landscape Garden. Queen Victoria played here as a child. While Princess Charlotte Augusta spent her happiest days at Claremont, in the early 19th She was the original “people’s princess” and greatly loved. As heir to the throne of George III, Charlotte was seen as the hope of the nation.
- This summer join The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Quantum Theatre, New Creations Collective and Summer Screens for a season of outdoor theatre and cinema. Be charmed by tales from The Secret Garden and the Reluctant Dragon, or enjoy comedy from Shakespeare’s As you Like it.
- Head Gardener Graham Alderton says: ‘Did you know 2022 is the 300th anniversary of the amphitheatre at Claremont. Designed by Charles Bridgeman and completed in 1722, it is believed to be the largest of its type left in Europe. The amphitheatre has provided an impressive viewpoint to many over its lifetime, including several members of the royal family. However, when formal designs fell out of favour it was lost to neglect for many years. When Claremont Landscape Garden was gifted to the National Trust in 1949, it was restored to its former glory and our gardens team and volunteers strive to preserve it for future generations.’
Hatchlands Park, Surrey
The gardens and parkland at Hatchlands are a wildlife delight, from the buttercup splattered lawns to the many wildflowers in the parkland. The formal garden includes a lavender border, peonies, irises and roses. Discover a new parkland walk opening this summer. The Forage Walk links up new parts of the estate and has been planted with 1500 native hedgerow trees.
- National Trust Ranger, Tom Shuttleworth says: ‘This summer visitors can take a stroll through the new Forage Walk at Hatchlands Park and see the parkland from a different perspective. Working in partnership with our tenant farmer, a new connective corridor has now opened. Local communities from East Clandon and West Horsley, and staff and volunteers helped plant over 1500 trees and shrubs to form this new path. The new Forage Walk will be a lifeline for so many species that live in our woodlands. It will provide a rich display of our most beautiful native tree species, including the rare wild service tree, which thrives here.’
- Join Immersion Theatre and The Lord Chamberlain’s Men for a summer of theatre at Hatchlands Park. Enjoy a series of outdoor plays on the lawn in front of the mansion. Tickets available now.
- There are new wide paths at Hatchlands, making access easier for wheelchairs and pushchairs and seating areas so that you can relax and enjoy the scent of the garden in comfort. An all-terrain tramper vehicle can be booked in advance for use in the parkland.
Come for a ramble and hunt for 8 new butterfly signboards dotted about the Surrey Hills. Scan the QR codes to listen to podcasts about the rare and beautiful butterflies we have at Box Hill, Denbies Hillside, Headley Heath and more.
- The Summer of Butterflies programme runs until September, with guided walks, expert talks, downloadable walks, podcasts and even a butterfly life-cycle song. Pick up an activity sheet and stickers from our hub sites at Box Hill and Hindhead. Or just roam the hills and see what you can find.
Leith Hill Place
This summer, spend time at Leith Hill Place and discover its country house charm with stunning views over the Surrey countryside and beyond. Childhood home to Ralph Vaughan Williams, one of England’s greatest composers, as well as the famous Wedgwood family, soak up the atmosphere where education, creativity and inspiration are imprinted on its walls. Its unpretentious charm makes it the perfect place to make yourself at home.
- Pick up a cream tea and enjoy the fresh air as you sit on the garden terrace enjoying the splendid views.
- Wander through the meandering Rhododendron wood, which bursts with colour during spring and early summer.
- Why not bring a newspaper or a book and wile away the afternoon on the sofas in the Wedgewood room.
- Leith Hill House is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.
Dapdune Wharf and River Wey Navigations, Surrey
A haven for wildlife, the tow path along the River Wey is the perfect place to enjoy a summer walk, or why not visit Dapdune Wharf in the heart of Guildford and enjoy a boat trip along the river and treat yourself.
- To Sunday 5th June. Pop down to Dapdune Wharf this half term and enjoy a picnic by the river. Make a crown to wear at your picnic, pick up a treat or two from the café and enjoy watching boats sail along the River Wey. Free entry. Car parking charges apply to non-members.
Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
Enjoy a day out at the National Trust’s only arboretum, where fiery swathes of wild foxgloves and flowering dogwoods adorn summer walks and lovely picnic spots can be found by the lake.
- Early summer is a fantastic time of year for flowering shrubs and trees at Winkworth Arboretum. Cornus, Styrax, Stewartia and Catalpa all produce excellent displays at this time of year. While the wildflower meadow is full of speedwell, stitchwort, buttercups and red campion.
Nymans, West Sussex
Launching this summer, Nymans proudly opens the door to the Riding House tearoom and cafe, as well as a newly created garden built within the gothic ruins of the Great Hall itself. Take in the tranquil ruins and gardens in the evening light in our extended opening hours and enjoy our programme of events running throughout the summer — from live jazz, outdoor theatre and promenade performances to Dream House Tours uncovering the fascinating architecture and history of the house.
- A new Garden in the Ruins has opened at Nymans. Step within the gothic ruins of the Great Hall, re-imagined as a tranquil garden space for visitors to enjoy. Representatives from the Alzheimer’s Society have been instrumental in helping to develop the space. The design reflects the creative legacy of Oliver Messel, a leading British costume and stage set designer of the mid twentieth century, who spent part of his childhood at Nymans.
- Also new for summer 2022, The former Riding House has been converted into a new tearoom at the heart of the garden. Its contemporary atmosphere and expansive views of the Weald from the mezzanine floor, make this an enchanting place stop for lunch or coffee. The new facilities at Nymans include a Changing Places toilet, accessible lift in the Riding House café and WCs for families in the garden.
- It’s rose season at Nymans and every Friday in June, the garden is open from 6pm – 8.30pm so you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the garden in the evening light. Bring a picnic to share with friends and family, visit the Rose Garden where perfume from the scented roses punctuates the air or book on a tour with one of the gardeners. Come and join our Celebration of Flowers – highlighting seasonal displays – with Roses in June, Summer Borders in July and August, South African beds in September – with gardener’s picks and tips to try at home.
- In high summer the herbaceous borders are the centrepiece of the Wall Garden, once a sleepy orchard and now home to rare trees and shrubs. The long double borders are an inspiration – bursting with colour and character from July right through into autumn.
- Each Friday night in July, saxophonist Graeme Airth joins us for Friday Lates Sax on the Lawn, bringing a blend of Bossa Nova, Swinging Jazz and Classic Soul. Dogs on a lead are welcome in the gardens for these special evening openings.
- Join us for a summer of outdoor theatre at Nymans, taking place on the Main Lawn against the backdrop of the romantic ruins. A variety of productions spread across the summer from June to September. Including family shows, classic stories, murder mystery and Shakespeare, there’s something for everyone. Tickets on sale via the Nymans website. Adult tickets £18, Child tickets £10 (excluding Alice in Wonderland and The Railway Children adult tickets £15, children £12).
- Join a tour of the outside of the house as one of our tour guides tells the story behind the creation of the Messel family’s dream house in the Sussex High Weald. Every day 10.30am, 12.00pm & 1.30pm (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays).
- Promenade theatre: The pirate, the seed and the all-seeing tree! Join us in the fun of this outdoor adventure in the beautiful gardens of Nymans as Cat’s Grin theatre company take you on a voyage of discovery for all ages. How is it we can hear the tales of the ancient Cedar tree? Why is the Plant Pirate here and what is he up to? Can a lost seed grow in a strange land? Our colourful characters are on a quest to find answers and they need your help. Tickets £8 pp.
Standen, West Sussex
The 12 acre garden at Standen was almost entirely the creation of a self-taught gardener – Margaret Beale. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement, she developed this hillside garden so that it looked like a natural part of the High Weald landscape. Today you can explore the house terrace, quarry garden, lavender lawn, rosery and kitchen garden.
- Step back to 1972, the year that Standen was gifted to the National Trust, with a new summer programme throughout the house: Flower Power. It includes a 1970s inspired room set by Morris & Co and a contemporary design space. The dining room is set for a fondue party and there are fuzzy felts on the billiard table. 4 June to 30 October
- Listen to retro live music every Sunday in July and August on the terrace.
- The inspirational kitchen garden is full of tasty crops, that supply food to the café throughout the year. This area is run on organic principles and is also no-dig, allowing the soil to build up a rich natural diversity of insects and bugs.
Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
Celebrate the serenity and elegance of the spectacular waterlilies on the lakes with a series of unmissable art workshops and art installations in the annual Waterlily Festival or enjoy exclusive access to the garden after hours at one of Sheffield Park’s Midsummer Evening events.
- Sheffield Park’s picturesque lakes burst into life in June and July. To celebrate this natural spectacle, the Waterlily Festival returns this summer from 18 June to 17 July 2022, accompanied by a programme of bookable arts events including photography, watercolour and sketching workshops. .
- Wander the shores of the lakes, adorned by thousands of waterlily plants or get a closer view on the ever-popular floating pontoon. As you admire the seven different species, in shades from buttery yellow to deep pink, look out for giant flowers and dragonfliescreated by community-led artists, Same Sky and So Sussex who have enlisted the help of young local artists in their exhibits; displays and fun details will keep younger visitors entertained too.
- Midsummer Evenings on 25 & 25 July offer a unique opportunity to enjoy the special atmosphere in the garden on the long summer evenings. Bring a picnic and relax with a glass of Pimms as live music drifts across the lakes at sunset. After 9.30pm visitors can join expert astronomers on the parkland for a unique stargazing experience. Waterlily Festival Workshops and Midsummer Evening tickets must be booked in advance via www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden/whats-on
Petworth, West Sussex
The pleasure garden at Petworth House and Park was designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in the late 18th century. Today it is one of Petworth’s best kept secrets and well worth exploring as mixed borders by the house bloom with summer flowers from roses to dahlias and Achilleas.
- In June, the handkerchief tree flowers with its intriguing display of clustered flowers, and on the Cornus walk, from June to July, dogwood blooms create a colourful and inviting atmosphere.
- The serpentine paths, stone follies and wildflowers, including common spotted orchids and oxeye daisies, make this a beautiful place to walk with family and friends.
- Enjoy the summer solstice in the Pleasure Garden during a special late opening from 7-10pm. See the evening sunlight illuminate the Italian styled Ionic Rotunda and absorb the peaceful atmosphere on the woodland walk. Take a seat on one of the garden benches and enjoy the beauty of nature. Tuesday 21th June, £10, booking essential via nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth
- Experience Outdoor Cinema in Petworth’s Garden where films will be shown on a 30-foot screen starting at 8.30pm. Watch Romeo + Juliet on Friday 19th, Cyrano on Saturday 20th or Encanto on Sunday 21th August. Adult £15, Child £7.50, booking essential via nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth
Bateman’s, East Sussex
The view from the Front Garden towards the sandstone house is glorious when illuminated by summer sunshine. The borders around the house, quarterdeck and pear alley are a riot of colour, with delphiniums and rosa blue. Unmissable too are the orange-red trumpet-shaped flowers of campsis grandiflora on the house by the Quarterdeck and campsis radicans on the wall at the top of the orchard.
- Roses can be found in all areas of the garden, with a range of colours, scents and growing habits. The rose garden, of author Rudyard Kipling’s design, is ablaze with colour throughout season. From the Wild Garden gate, look back towards the house to see the rose garden with its statues, pond and bubble fountain.
- Pick up a map and follow the ‘Glory of the Garden’ poetry trail, inspired by Kipling’s famous poem, to see these and more colour at his family home. Special events such as storytelling, poetry reading and gardener talks inspired by his words will also take place over the summer.
- The range of plants growing in the no-dig vegetable patch has been extended for this year, including several varieties of beans, cabbages, cauliflower, kales, salad plants, squash and pumpkins in a wide range of shapes colours. Don’t miss the giant globo onion, a regular favourite with visitors. Much of the produce harvested goes to the Mulberry tea-room onsite.
- Len Bernamont, Head Gardener says: “The trick to keep dahlias flowering until the first frosts is to remove all the spent flowers at least weekly. The best way to deadhead is to use sharp snips and follow the faded flower down the stem till you meet the first pair of leaves. Cut the stem just above the leaves and in no time at all axillary buds (buds at the junction of leaves and stem) will form and send up fresh flowers. It can be hard to tell the difference between the new flower buds and the spent flowers if the petals have dropped, but look out for the pointy shape and slightly squidgy feel of a spent flower compared with the rounded shape and firm feel of the new buds. At the end of the season, either lift and store the tubers in a frost-free place or mulch thickly to protect them over winter.”