The National Trust’s Nymans Estate is just up the A23 about 20 minutes from Brighton and has something to offer visitors all year round. A wonderful garden full of unusual plants, beautiful woodland walks, great shopping, a lovely Plant Centre and delicious home made seasonal food and drink in the restaurant.
The garden lies along a ridge of the Sussex Weald at one of the highest points in the county, with wonderful views over the countryside toward the South Downs. The garden is the achievement of three generations of the Messel family and their Head Gardeners. The family sponsored great plant hunters, such as Earnest Wilson and Frank Kingdon-Ward who explored far-off countries in search of wild and exotic plants. The design is exuberant and theatrical with striking topiary, vivid borders and massed plantings of flowering shrubs. Highlights at this time of year include big drifts of colour with daffodils and snowdrops in profusion and precise planting with hellebores, delicate bulbs, flowering daphne and sweet box.
There are 275 acres of natural woodland to explore in the Woods, with marked walks that take in historic lakes, seasonal and wild flowers and the tallest tree in Sussex. These have always been working woods, and this tradition is carried on by the wardens who make their very own Nymans charcoal and other woodland products for sale in the shop!
The house at Nymans was mainly left in ruins after a fire in 1947, which now form a romantic backdrop to the main lawn. Several family rooms survived the blaze and can be visited from 1 March; arranged as Anne, Countess of Rosse, neé Messel used them and filled with flower displays.
This year a new exhibition exploring the life and work of the designer Oliver Messel will be open in the House from 1 November to 29 February.
Valentine’s day Flower Count
The Valentine’s Day Flower Count is an old tradition which started in Cornwall. Two years ago all National Trust places undertook the count and Nymans discovered that it has just as many plants flowering on this day as the South West – an area traditionally thought to be the first to experience spring. In 2011, 150 different species were recorded as flowering on Valentine’s Day.
Weddings at Nymans
Nymans is delighted to announce it is now licensed to hold civil ceremonies. Held in the charming Italianate Loggia, they offer simple, charming ceremonies with a real sense of intimacy. The Loggia is a simple yet romantic space suited to intimate ceremonies of up to 25 guests. Clients will be able to enjoy a glass of Sussex sparkling wine while dedicated staff will escort and serve guests as well as meeting the bride upon her arrival.
Nymans will also be catering for larger functions and receptions in the Pinetum. With it’s fabulous views of the Sussex Weald, guests will feel be able to enjoy the use of a marquee with furniture and catering. Nymans have wedding packages to suit a wide variety of tastes and budgets as well as a bespoke wedding advisory service – contact Sophie Sherrif on 07732 063 906 for details.
Nymans, Handcross, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex • Nymans is open every day all year round (except 25th to 31st December) • For opening times, admission prices and more information: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans or call 01444 405 250.