Highdown Gardens
Highdown Gardens
A lovely, peaceful garden tucked away on high downland, with views out to sea. Highdown is a secluded haven for garden lovers, a real horticulturalist's delight. So many rare and unusual varieties flourish at Highdown that the entire garden has been declared a national collection. Best in: Spring and early summer.

The garden is strikingly different, planted with species that thrive in the chalky soil of the downland, in an area with thin soil, salty air and high winds.


Highdown owes its existence to one man; Sir Frederick Stern, a big game hunter and secretary to PM David Lloyd George. Stern began to lay out the gardens here in 1909, based around an unused chalk pit. He planted the gardens with unusual species brought back by plant-hunters from China and the Himalayas. Two plant-hunters, in particular, helped create Highdown; Reginald Farrer and EH Wilson travelled throughout the Orient collecting unusual plant samples. Many of these species still thrive on Highland's chalky hillside.

Frederick Stern devoted his life to discover which plants could thrive on the chalk downland soil. He spent 50 years experimenting, and through trial and error created the rare and unusual mix of plants that we see today. As a result of his work, Stern was awarded a knighthood for services to horticulture. When Stern died in 1967 the garden was left to Worthing Borough Council.

The hillside site is a wonderful mix of wooded areas and more formal beds. There is an avenue of Himalayan birch, an herb garden, bamboo pond, hellebore bank, and a lovely beech wood.


  • Handkerchief Tree (Best in late Spring)
  • Judas Tree (Also best in late Spring)
  • Spring bulbs (Snowdrops, Crocus, and Anemones)
  • Paeonies and Bearded Iris (Best in Summer)
  • Fig border
  • Rose garden
  • Cave pond

The garden is open most days from spring through autumn, and weekdays during the winter months. Admission is free.