Kew Gardens Wakehurst

Despite being a member of Kew Gardens for many years, I’d never been to their more rural gardens in Sussex.

The public transport to Wakehurst is a bit ropey. Taking the train to Haywards Heath is straightforward. Once you’re there, however, you must wait for one of the infrequent buses for the 10km ride to the gardens. We timed it so that we had to wait only about 30 minutes. The return is equally limited. There was a bus leaving about 5.40pm from the gardens (just after it closed), which meant we had less than three hours in the park.

We made the most of our time there. It was a beautiful day, and the gardens, which have a different vibe, are just as attractive as the main Kew Gardens in Richmond.

Wakehurst has more varied, and at times, hilly terrain. There’s walled and water gardens, woodland, and wetland. Some parts are difficult to navigate but the main part, where most people congregated, is accessible.

One of the first things we saw was this unusual weeping giant redwood.

The house was being renovated when we visited but some temporary steps had been constructed to let you walk to the top of the house for a panoramic view of some of the gardens and to look at the reconstruction work going on inside the house.

Built in 1590, the house had had several owners before Gerald Loder (later Lord Wakehurst) bought it in 1903. Most of the gardens were his creation, over a period of about 33 years. When he died, he left the house and gardens to the National Trust. The owners of Kew lease the gardens.

Wakehurst is the home of the largest plant conservation programme in the world: the Millenium Seed Bank. The seeds are collected from around the world and ensure that plants can be grown again if they go instinct.

We went inside to look at the exhibitions. Since it was a weekend, the working staff, normally visible behind glass windows, were not there.

Leave a Reply