Meet Nymans head gardeners

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Since 1890, Nymans has only had five head gardeners. Each has put their own mark on the garden that you see today.

Stephen Herrington (2014 - to date)

 Stephen became head gardener in the autumn of 2014 having previously been Curator of Glasgow Botanic Gardens. He has worked and trained in several well-known gardens including: Tresco Abbey Gardens; RHS Garden Wisley and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Stephen has a passion for plant conservation and having been on a number of plant collecting trips around the world he hopes to carry on the Nymans tradition of planting rare and unusual plant collections as well as being experimental and innovative. Stephen has many new projects planned for the future, a few of which include: extending the plant collections in the wild garden, planting new exciting flower borders and compiling the gardens plant collection policy.   

Ed Ikin (2005 - 2014)

Under Ed Ikin's leadership Nymans has seen an extensive programme of restoration and development.

Ed worked with a team of consultants to produce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the garden. A hugely significant piece of research, the CMP has enabled the restoration of the rock garden and croquet lawn, redesign of both the sunk and knot gardens, creation of the new Mediterranean and South African beds as well as the replanting of the Terrace with an exciting collection of subtropical plants.

David Masters (1980-2005)

Of all the changes at Nymans, none were as instant or dramatic as the Great Storm of 1987 that saw Nymans lose 486 mature trees overnight. David Masters and his team had the unenviable task of clearing up. As many of the important trees as possible were propagated, such as the conifers in the pinetum.

It took a number of years before order was restored but after the destruction came new opportunities. Herbaceous borders thrived in the lighter garden and a new-look rose garden was opened in 1988, complete with arches, a geometric design and handmade fountain.

Cecil Nice (1953-1980)

Cecil Nice had worked alongside James Comber for almost 30 years when he took over as head gardener.

Nice oversaw Nymans being given to the National Trust and its opening to the public in 1954. At this time the National Trust struggled financially but Nice's special pride was the kitchen garden and under his leadership the sale of fruit and veg generated a good income.

However, by the 1960s the garden was starting to show signs of age. Graham Stuart Thomas criticised the lack of summer colour suggesting perennials borders in the top garden, the birth of our June borders. As a result the labour -intensive kitchen garden had to be abandoned much to the distress of Nice.

James Comber (1895-1953)

Nymans was bought by Ludwig Messel in 1890. His priority was the garden and in 1895 he hired the young James Comber to help him bring his ideas to life. Comber and Ludwig became a formidable partnership.

They started the tradition of breeding new cultivars at Nymans, most notably creating Eucryphia x nymansensis, a beautiful white-flowering summer shrub.

Comber's son Harold became a famous plant hunter and Nymans benefitted enormously. His South America expedition introduced several rare Argentinian and Chilean plants into England which form the basis of our impressive Chilean collection in the wall garden.

Leonard and Comber both died in 1953, signifying the end of an era at Nymans.