Old Potting Sheds

Explore enchanting ruined cottages, now home to climbing plants from around the world

Old potting sheds

Once the heart of the working garden, these former sheds were home to plants that were propagated from cuttings or grown from seeds before being planted around the Garden we see now. The moss-covered ruins still have some leaded windows intact, creating an ethereal backdrop for plants from all over the world.

Today, these crumbling walls create an attractive shelter for tender and unusual species from the southern hemisphere, particularly South Africa and Chile. Keep an eye out for Amicia zygomeris, a Mexican shrub with finely etched leaves and canary-yellow pea-like flowers in autumn, and the red-flowered Lobelia tupa from Chile.

Double Chaenomeles on old brick wall at Borde Hill. Image: John Glover
Water pump in the Old Potting Sheds. Image: John Glover

Dig a little deeper

When Col. Robert Stephenson Clarke bought Borde Hill House in 1893, he also acquired the bailiff’s house, West Garden Lodge, with a pigsty, cowshed and chicken sheds, latterly used as potting sheds by the Stephenson Clarkes’ gardeners.

By the early 20th century, there were 27 gardeners working full-time at Borde Hill, providing fruit and vegetables for the House as well as propagating plants for the Gardens. Along the way the sheds fell into disrepair, the roof collapsed in the 1970s and the space was used as a herb garden.

In 1990 we decided to plant hardy species and rosy red chaenomeles which look romantic in late winter when they intertwine up the ruined walls and around the still-intact lead windows.

One of the original plants, the evergreen Chilean shrub Azara serrata has flourished in this space and scents the air with its mimosa-like flowers in summer, along with the pink-flowered Indigofera amblyantha and the crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica. Against another wall is Actinidia kolomikta, a climbing shrub from the temperate mixed forests of the Russian Far East, Korea, Japan and China.

Plants of Interest

  • Azara petiolaris
  • Feijoa sellowiana
  • Crinodendron patagua
  • Drimys lanceolata
  • Abutilon megapotamicum
  • Scleranthus biflorus
  • Indigofera amblyantha
  • Correa backhousiana
  • Sophora macrophylla ‘Sun king’
  • Prumnopitys taxifolia
  • Amicia zygomeris
  • Lobelia tupa
  • Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’
  • Dacrycarpusd acrydioides
  • indigofera amblyantha
  • Lagerstroemia indica.
Small perennials border in The Old Potting Sheds. Image John Glover

Did you


The Round Dell was a former metal quarry - the excavated space now provides ideal conditions for sub-tropical plants including palm trees and gunnera. Re-designed in 2017, the concrete path represents a ship sailing through a lush exotic jungle, featuring many newly collected plants by Crug Farm.
The Round Dell at Borde Hill
A child on the zip wire in the Advenure Playground at Borde Hill.
Children in the Italian Garden. Image: Emli Bendixen

For Families

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.

Discover the Possibilities

A family next to the water feature in the Rose Garden at Borde Hill during summer.

Become a Member

Membership is your ticket to enjoy unlimited access to the Garden, Parkland and Woodland throughout the open season. Our members also receive free entry to a number of exciting events, from live music in the Garden to Specialist Plant Fairs and much more. Family Membership provides unlimited access to the Adventure Playground and free school holiday trails.

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Italian Garden at Borde Hill. Image: Molly Hollman

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.

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A misty atmospheric view of trees in North Park at Borde Hill with cows in the distance.

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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.

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