Champs Hill garden open again for NGS

The garden at Champs Hill in Coldwaltham, is opening for the first time in nine years for the National Gardens Scheme, on Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 5pm.

Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 12:14 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:19 am
One of the sculptures at Champs Hill in Coldwaltham
One of the sculptures at Champs Hill in Coldwaltham

The setting of the house is dramatic, sitting high above three disused sand quarries, enjoying superb views across the Amberley Wild Brooks, up to the South Downs.

The 27 acres were purchased by Alfred and Margaret Bowerman in the early 1930s to create a retirement home for themselves and the gardens have been developed since 1960, starting around the house with plants suitable for a very sandy soil.

Conifers and heathers were popular at the time and were ideal for the soil’s acid pH and dry, free-draining conditions.

Picture: Maria Shard

The Bowermans became founder members of the British Heather Society and, over the years, many fellow members from far and wide have visited the garden, interested in seeing more than 400 different heathers growing in a private garden.

David and Mary Bowerman came to live at Champs Hill in 1986, one year before the devastating hurricane.

From then on, the garden had to change and clearing away the many fallen trees and debris opened up new vistas and new ideas. Sculptures were placed in carefully thought out sites and are now very much part of the delight of the garden.

In October, 1999, a Music Room was opened, where classical music with musicians of the highest quality, from around the world, come and perform to enthusiastic audiences on approximately 25 evenings in the year.

Picture: Maria Shard

Many visitors coming to Champs Hill in recent years have enjoyed the garden all the year round but with no concerts in August, it has become a quieter month, when the heathers look absolutely spectacular in a natural and almost wild setting.

Having supported the wonderful work which the NGS does in sending much-needed money to their chosen charities, by opening the garden for over 30 years in March, May and August until 2007, it was thought that it should be opened again for these two days in August this year.

The garden currently has a lushness not often seen before, the views are superb and the tea and cakes should be a happy inclusion.

Adult admission is £5, children free. No dogs. The Music Room will not be open.

Picture: Maria Shard

Group visits available March to September by arrangement, 01798 831205.

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