Garden Portrait: More from Nymans

In the late 1800’s Ludwig Messel bought the Nymans Estate in the Sussex High Weald to make a dream family home.

The gardens were inspired by the influential writer William Robinson, and were filled with rare plants and colourful herbaceous borders. The man most responsible for creating the gardens that Messel visualised was James Comber, who became head gardener in 1895. Comber’s son, Harold, became a globe-trotting plant collector, bringing exotic plants back to England from South America and Tasmania. Today it is still a garden lovers’ home – a place to relax all year round and enjoy a peaceful country garden.

Map of the Gardens
Map of the Gardens

Rose Garden

The rose garden is a circular space formally divided into beds intersected by gravel pathways and surrounded by high hedges. In the centre is a fountain in the form of a rose with climbing roses on arches tumbling down around it. The best time to visit is probably earlier in the summer as by late August there were very few roses still in bloom. The gardens have been well known for growing old-fashioned roses, with rich, intoxicating fragrances and pastel shades, for over 100 years.

The House

Three generations of the Messel family have lived at Nymans, from the late 1800’s until 1947 when the house was tragically destroyed by fire. Subsequently the surviving rooms were still used, occasionally to entertain friends and as a base from which to run the garden. Today the ruined house still provides a romantic background for the garden and the remaining Messel Family rooms are open to the public. At the side of the house is a Forecourt Garden with a dovecote in the corner, steps lead up to the top where you have a lovely view over the courtyard.



Rock Garden / Heath Garden

At the far side of the ruined house are the Sunken Garden, complete with Loggia, a Heath Garden and a Rock Garden which are an absolute delight.

A Glimpse of the house
View of the house from the Sunken Garden
Bench with the initial AR = Anne Rosse
Bench with the initial AR = Anne Rosse

June Borders

Obviously designed to look their best in June, these borders still have something to offer in August. Sedums and salvias compete with hydrangeas and helenium.

The June Borders (in late August)

I was delighted to see this lady drawing and painting the gorgeous sedum in the border.


And even at the entrance / exit the planting continues with a prairie style  garden which is made up of a mixture of herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. The style is naturalistic with swathes of planting blocks pioneered by the famous garden designer Piet Oudulf. Flowers, seed-heads and foliage all play their part in the design.


More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.

  • Street:  Nymans Garden
  • Postcode:  RH17 6EB
  • City:  Handcross, Crawley
  • County:  Sussex

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Anabel Marsh says:

    Such a beautiful garden – and that house! It must have been stunning before the fire, but as you say it’s still a romantic background.

  2. A lovely garden to walk in, Jude. What an unusual bench and a beautiful dovecote.

    1. Heyjude says:

      The bench is truly magnificent and I wouldn’t mind that dovecote either. perhaps I could just camp out in the ruins?

  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    A year round garden eh? you know what I’m going to say next don’t you? Are you visiting your daughter in February? 🙂
    I remember that lovely bench, there were too many people around and I ended up with a wonky photo.

  4. I’ll move in to the dovecote and relish Anne Ross’s bench. I love the separate gardens, and it’s a great shot of the artist. Those ruins look quite pristine!

  5. And I wrote my comment before I saw your earlier comment. I’ll join you there!

    1. restlessjo says:

      I’ll bring the tent! I’ve just washed James’ one after Leeds Music Fest. 🙂

  6. restlessjo says:

    I remember this being on TV not too long ago but I wasn’t paying proper attention. Nice to see it in such detail with you. I can just picture you meandering. Your flower photography is fabulous, Jude. Many thanks for the link. 🙂

  7. pommepal says:

    Glorious gardens I love all the detail you give us. That bench is stunning.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes that bench would have done well in my unusual category! The gardens are stunning, now I have to return in June!

      1. pommepal says:

        A garden like that would be different every season and keep drawing you back

        1. Heyjude says:

          A shame it is so far away from me now! I will have to check it out when I visit my daughter.

  8. Gorgeous garden. Excellent photos, too!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a lovely place for wandering, nice and gentle which I like. And so full of flowers. I was so pleased to see so much colour in late summer. Saying that I have some lovely colours from a walled garden this week – must get that one posted 🙂

  9. Such a grgeous mansion and gardens. Thank you for sharing your excellent photos.

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