Nestled in the heart of Sussex's High Weald, Borde Hill Garden is a horticultural gem that has captivated visitors for over a century. While the entire 200-acre estate is a treasure trove of botanical wonders, it's the Jay Robin's Rose Garden that truly steals the show for rose enthusiasts.

Borde Hill Rose Gardens History and Design:

A Rose Lover's Paradise: Exploring Borde Hill's Jay Robin's Rose Garden, Rose garden near London, David Austin roses in the garden, Sundial in the Rose Garden at Borde Hill
Sundial in the Rose Garden at Borde Hill

This enchanting garden, named after the daughter of current owners Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke, is a relatively recent addition to Borde Hill's storied landscape. Designed in 1996 by RHS Gold medal winner Robin Williams, the garden pays homage to a 1902 rose garden once captured in the pages of Country Life magazine.

As you step through the wooden archway, draped with the cascading blooms of the 'Sanders White' rambling rose, you're transported into a world of color, fragrance, and horticultural artistry. The garden's design is a masterpiece of symmetry and sensory delight, with over 750 David Austin roses representing 100 varieties planted in a mesmerizing color wheel.

A Rose Lover's Paradise: Exploring Borde Hill's Jay Robin's Rose Garden, White pink lush David Austin Roses at the Borde Hill Rose garden, Aphrodite fontaine and small shed on the background

The layout ensures that the Elizabethan chimneys of Borde Hill House provide a stunning backdrop to the vibrant plantings. Formal beds are set within a geometric framework, bordered by aromatic lavender and red brick paths. In a nod to tradition, wooden trellises support rambling roses, underplanted with classic English garden favorites like delphiniums, peonies, and foxgloves.

At the heart of this floral paradise, the centerpiece has evolved over time, reflecting the garden's dynamic nature. Originally, the focal point was a simple pond without adornment. By 2019, visitors would have encountered a tall column rising from the water, crowned with an elegant vase or urn. Today, the garden's crowning glory is a life-size copper statue of Aphrodite, installed in 2020. Sculpted by artist Brendon Murless, this arresting figure stands as a testament to the garden's continuous reinvention. Adorned with roses, the statue serves as a whimsical fountain, with water gracefully spraying from the bouquet in Aphrodite's hands. This progression of central features illustrates how Borde Hill's Rose Garden is not just a static display, but a living, breathing space that changes and grows with each passing season.

Cottage with white roses & Fontaine Aphrodite with rose bouquet in her hands at the Borde Hill Rose Garden, photos by the smell of roses
Cottage with white roses & Fontaine Aphrodite with rose bouquet in her hands

The rose selection at Borde Hill is constantly evolving too to meet the challenges of a changing climate. Recent additions include robust David Austin varieties such as 'The Lady Gardener', 'Roald Dahl', 'Imogen', and 'Olivia Rose Austin'. These newcomers join beloved classics like the pale pink 'Brother Cadfael', the rich pink 'Gertrude Jekyll', and the deep red 'Chianti'.

For those interested in horticultural history, the garden also features a pink rose bred from Rosa gigantea and named after the famous plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward, planted in 2016 against the brick wall beside the Yew topiary.

A Rose Lover's Paradise: Exploring Borde Hill's Jay Robin's Rose Garden, Lush David Austin Roses by the small cottage at the Borde Hill rose garden, photos take by the smell of roses
vid Austin Roses at the Borde Hill's Jay Robin's  Rose Garden
David Austin Roses at the Borde Hill's Jay Robin's  Rose Garden

Plants of Interest

Plants of interest selected by the rose garden gardener:

  • Prunus serrula
  • Malus sargentii
  • Rosa ‘Sanders White’
  • Rosa ‘Home Run’
  • Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’
  • Maackia amurensis
Information stand at the Borde Hill about the Jay Robin's  Rose Garden, Borde Hill gardens history
Photo of the information stand at the Borde Hill Rose Garden

A Rose Lover's Journey: Finding Your Way to Borde Hill

For those enchanted by our description of Jay Robin's Rose Garden, the journey to this floral paradise is an adventure in itself. Whether you're a London-based enthusiast looking for a day trip or a dedicated rose lover planning a special pilgrimage, Borde Hill Garden is more accessible than you might think.

By Road: For those who prefer the freedom of driving, set your satellite navigation to RH16 1XP. You'll find Borde Hill Garden nestled along Borde Hill Lane, a mere 1½ miles north of Haywards Heath. It's a picturesque 20-minute drive north from Brighton, or if you're coming from the north, take exit 10a on the A23 via Balcombe when driving south from Gatwick. The approach through the Sussex countryside is a treat in itself, with rolling hills and charming villages setting the scene for your horticultural adventure.

By Rail: For a more relaxed journey, hop on a direct train from London Bridge or Victoria to Haywards Heath. In just 45 minutes, you'll be transported from the hustle and bustle of the city to the tranquil Sussex countryside. From Haywards Heath station, Borde Hill is a quick 5-minute taxi ride away.

For the more adventurous (or budget-conscious), you might be tempted to walk from the station as I did. While the 35-minute stroll offers lovely views, be aware that the pavement isn't continuous, and you may find yourself navigating the curb of a main road at times. In hindsight, I'd recommend opting for a taxi or ride-share service for both comfort and safety.

Whichever route you choose, the destination is well worth the journey. As you approach Borde Hill, feel the excitement build, knowing that you're moments away from immersing yourself in one of the country's most spectacular rose gardens. The scent of hundreds of David Austin roses will greet you long before you catch your first glimpse of their vibrant blooms.

Remember, the best time to visit for peak rose display is typically from June through August, though the garden offers delights in every season. Whether you're seeking inspiration for your own garden, looking to expand your rose knowledge, or simply yearning for a day surrounded by natural beauty, Borde Hill's Jay Robin's Rose Garden promises an unforgettable experience.

So pack your camera, wear comfortable shoes, and prepare for a day of floral enchantment. Your rose-scented adventure awaits at Borde Hill Garden!