Standen Revival: restoring Margaret Beale's garden

Mrs Beale and gardener in the quarry garden at Standen © Standen

Mrs Beale and gardener in the quarry garden at Standen

We are currently in the middle of a major restoration and conservation project of the gardens at Standen. Our aim is to reinstate the splendour of the original Arts and Crafts-inspired garden created by Margaret Beale at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

Why are we reviving the gardens?

About 10 years ago, a group of volunteers discovered a swimming pond whilst clearing out some overgrown bamboo in the Bamboo Garden (now called The Rosery). This discovery led to a major project to reveal more of the garden’s hidden secrets.  
Through researching Margaret Beale’s garden and weather diaries, which she kept from 1890 to 1934, we discovered not only how she experimented with various plants in different situations, but also how the weather affected her plants each year. Further research of maps, old photos, receipts and other documentary evidence enabled us to piece together how the garden would have looked in its 1920s heyday.
It is largely from Margaret Beale’s garden diaries that the true horticultural significance of her original planting scheme was revealed.  Despite the fact that Margaret was an amateur gardener, her diaries describe her purchase and planting of a variety of rare plants (such as crinodendron hookerianum (Chilean lantern tree) and camellia japonica “nobilissima”) many of which would have been quite exotic in the 1920s.
Using all this research, we embarked on a 5-year £500,000 project to restore the garden in October 2012, so that our visitors could enjoy Margaret’s original Arts and Crafts-inspired planting scheme. The project will be complete by February 2017.


Project highlights so far:

  • Revealing the medieval quarry face alongside the drive
  • Reinstating the lime trees on Grandfather's Walk
  • Opening up new views from the Top Terrace across to the Ashdown Forest
  • New Arts & Crafts inspired planting in the House Courtyard
  • Opening of the extended Kitchen Garden 
  • Clearing the bamboo garden to reinstate the Rosery and its wooden trellis
  • Restoration of the swimming pond in the Rosery
  • Clearing of the trees in the Shelterbelt to create a new path with views over the High Weald