A tranquil space with Italian planting designed to transport you to the Tuscan hills
This is one of the most popular rooms in the Garden. Here you will find our formal lily pool with panoramic views stretching across the South Park and lakes, surrounded by Italian style plantings. A place of pure tranquillity, it’s the ideal spot to soak up the sun and let the world pass by.
Large terracotta pots brimming with colourful geraniums and agapanthus frame the pool, while the stone terrace is peppered with clipped box parterre beds, spheres of Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’, and golden box planting with shades of deep pink erysimum, velvet blue salvias and perovskia.
Dig a Little Deeper
This part of the Garden started life as the family tennis court but in 1982 Robert Stephenson Clarke and his wife Maria created the ‘Bride’s Pool’, named after a mid-nineteenth-century marble statue by Antonio Tantardini that once stood there. Since then, the Italian Garden has gradually evolved.
A first redesign was carried out in 1997 by award-winning garden designer Robin Williams, who filled the upper terrace with roses and planted box hedging (Buxus sempervirens) around the pool terrace. He designed the rill that runs down to the pool from the statue of a naked female, arms outspread. This statue, ‘Welcoming the New Year’, is a marble resin copy of an original by the local artist Ev Meynell. Williams also introduced the twelve swagged Whichford terracotta pots that flank the pool.
The planting here is markedly different in style from the looser, more relaxed planting elsewhere and however you approach the garden you feel the impression you have strayed from Sussex into the Mediterranean. The sound of water, the terracing, topiary and the encircling pines and eucalyptus mirrored in the pool transport you to hillside gardens around Florence and Rome.
In 2010, inspired by Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke’s travels in Italy, the Upper Terrace was transformed. A colourful camellia-filled entranceway was added to create cool shade, along with geometric beds edged with sweet-smelling myrtle and Magnolia ‘Kay Paris’. From here you can enjoy a clear view over the water of the pool to the Parkland beyond.
In 2020, RHS award-winning garden designer Chris Beardshaw redesigned the planting in the Italian Garden with a greater emphasis on perennials. He mixed subtle background plants, such as stachys (Betonica officinalis ‘Hummelo’), perovskia (Salvia ‘Little Spire’), Salvia Mystic Spires Blue and pale-yellow Santolina pinnata subsp. neapolitana, with bolder Dietes grandiflora (a lily-like white South African flower with a purple-and-yellow centre), the long-flowering perennial wallflower Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ and Agapanthus Silver Moon.
A signature plant of the Italian Garden has remained: the orangey- red Lilium lancifolium ‘Splendens’, a good contrast to the strong blues.
Plants of Interest
- Olearia nummularifolia
- Ozothamnus thyrsoides
- Arbutus x andrachnoides & A unedo
- Prunus ‘Taihaku’
- Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’
- Buxus ‘Latifolia Maculata’
- Pittosporum tenuifolium
- Myrtus communis ssp. tarentina
- Magnolia grandiflora ‘Kay Parris’
- Discaria chacaye (discolor) champion trees
The ideal place for children to explore, learn and find joy in nature
Plan a fun-filled day for you and your family in the great outdoors, come rain or shine. Enjoy the perfect balance of fresh air and big open spaces to roam in, then refuel at the Gardeners’ Retreat Cafe, enjoy a picnic in the Garden or by the lakes or treat yourself to a delicious ice cream from the Gift Shop.
Connect to the beauty of nature while supporting our Garden for future generations by becoming a Member.
Members enjoy unlimited access to the Garden, Woodland and Playground throughout the open season, as well as free entry to highlights from our varied events programme. Visit time and again and enjoy free family trails during the school holidays, exclusive open days and monthly Garden newsletters.
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Our Garden & Grounds
Set within 383 acres of heritage listed Parkland, our formal Garden captivates and delights visitors with a series of intimate 'Garden rooms'. Beyond the formal Garden you can explore Woodland walks, the South Park and our lakes with outstanding views across the Sussex High Weald.
As a small, independent Garden Charity, we rely on your kind generosity to help fund our projects and to continue to grow sustainably, protecting our natural heritage for generations to come. 'Reinventing Borde Hill' is our most ambitious project to date and your support will help us to achieve exciting plans to benefit our local community.
It would make a huge difference if you would consider supporting us by making a donation – thank you.