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Sheffield Park Garden is a National Trust property
situated on the edge of the Sussex Weald midway between East Grinstead and
Lewes, 5 miles NW of Uckfield on the A275.
It is a beautiful 120 acre
woodland garden originally designed for the first Earl of Sheffield by Humphry
Repton and Capability Brown in the 18th century. In the nineteenth century the
third Earl made Sheffield Park famous for country house cricket and also
transformed the garden into an aboretum of both exotic and native conifers.
Later in 1910 saw the arrival of
Arthur Gilstrap Soames who transformed the garden with clumps of lakeside
rhododendrons so enjoyed by Virginia Woolf and also introduced the spectacular
autumn colour with Japanese maples, nyssas and beds of autumn
The garden is overlooked by the neo-Gothic mansion Sheffield
Park House which is privately owned and unfortunately not accessible to the
The gardens original design was of trees, manicured lawns and
two serpentine lakes. Later these two original lakes were extended to form the
present chain of five, with picturesque waterfalls and a 25 foot cascade
between the different levels . The shores of the lakes are planted with a
superb variety of trees and shrubs. The great storm of 1987 sadly devastated
the lakeside plantations, but with the gardens legendry vigor it is making a
The gardens are at their best twice a year, in spring
with daffodils, narcissus and a little later azaleas and rhododendrons. In
October the spectacle of the brilliantly coloured Autumn foliage is stunning
(see the new sections below).
|Sheffield Park Autumn 2002
Park the shores around the main lakes are planted with a superb range of trees
and shrubs, which contribute to making this one of the finest woodland gardens
The gardens are considered to be at their visual best on sunny
days with blue skies in the second half of October when the waters of the lakes
reflect the magnificent autumn colours. The tupelo trees, azaleas, maples,
swamp cypresses, eucryphias and birches contribute to a stunning spectacle
which is unrivalled in this country. You can judge this for yourself from the
|Sheffield Park Autumn 2003
As Autumn is
never the same two years running at Sheffield park, I made a second visit in
mid October 2003. The Japanese maples, nyssas and beds of autumn gentians, once
again provided a spectacular display.
My annual visit to Sheffield Park to see the Autumn
display has become important to me as it extends my garden visits into October
or even November making the winter appear that much shorter. It also makes for
a pleasant day out , with lunch at the restaurant.
This years visit was
later than usual on the 5th November, possibly because of this and the recent
wet weather, the colourful display was not up to the usual standard. Many of
the trees had already shed their leaves. I must remember to come earlier next
The cascade which has been undergoing renovation for the past two
years is now restored and working again as can be seen below right.
I make no appology for yet another seasonal visit to
Sheffield Park, I still find this garden unsurpassed in the south of England
for autumn colour.
Even in winter there are spectacular views and many
splendid walks, the most spectacular of which, is the Big Tree Walk with its
fine specimens of North American Sequoia. The walk goes past oak and beech
under planted with hardy hybrid rhododendrons and towards the end of the first
lake is a superb specimen of the rare, Mexican Pinus Montezumae planted in