National Trust takes on the challenges of climate adaptation in new garden project at Sheffield Park and Garden
For the first time since the National Trust took ownership in 1954, plans are afoot for the creation of a new area in the Grade I listed garden at Sheffield Park and Garden in East Sussex.
Members of The Royal Oak Foundation, the National Trust’s partner in the United States, have generously donated funds to support the project. The project has also been made possible in part by a generous gift left in a Will for the benefit of the garden at Sheffield Park.
The project presents an opportunity for the conservation charity to enhance this unique property with a design of our time that is sympathetic to the existing landscape, while also addressing the current challenges of climate adaptation and the positive effect of nature on mental health and wellbeing.
From ‘Capability’ Brown to Arthur Soames, Sheffield Park has a long history of innovation and high horticultural design well ahead of its time. As ‘curator of colour’ at Sheffield Park, Soames in particular pushed boundaries at the beginning of the 20th century with experimental planting, creations of hybrids and exotic species from around the world.
The garden at Sheffield Park provided Soames with the scale and opportunity to indulge his lifelong passion for horticulture and provided a unique testbed for observing how species around the globe adapted to different climates and growing conditions. Combined with learnings from the leading horticulturist of the day, he was able to trial new methods in his vision for the future.
In keeping with this pioneering spirit and with the help of two-time RHS Chelsea award-winning garden designer, Joe Perkins, the National Trust is making its own contribution to this legacy with a sensitive and inclusive design with climate resilience at its core.
The new garden will transform a corner once used for experimental beds within the 120-acre garden into a remarkable new visitor experience. The development provides a unique opportunity to adapt and innovate as it addresses face-on some of the practical challenges in caring for the historic landscape.
Joe Perkins is an experienced landscape designer, now based in Hove, East Sussex, with 12 years of involvement in planning and delivering gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Sheffield Park and Garden team are delighted to be working with a local designer of such calibre, and with shared concern for sustainable and responsible planting, to identify a narrative for the space that resonates now and for ever.
Andy Jasper, Director of Gardens & Parklands at the National Trust said: “We hope visitors will be as excited as we are with this new horticultural showcase shining a light on a commitment to the future of the gardens and gardening at Sheffield Park. For us it's a reflection of our continued investment in the future horticultural heritage. I hope this new design will inspire people to explore concepts that we as ordinary gardeners will need to deal with as we meet challenges of gardening in a rapidly changing climate. The brilliant contemporary design presents a fascinating array of solutions and I hope everyone will love it because it's designed for everyone for the long-term future.”
From January 2024, National Trust members, supporters and visitors to Sheffield Park and Garden will be able to engage with the new space in person and online as it develops and take action by contributing to the property’s supporter campaign. The public will be invited to share in the hope and vision of the project by suggesting the name for this ‘garden for the future’ ready for the official opening in spring 2025.