Spring in the garden at Sheffield Park

Rhododendrons in May at Sheffield Park by the lake

Spring means colour at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex, where dramatic views are around every bend and scent fills hidden glades as the garden blossoms into life. Take in the vistas and immerse yourself in the joys of nature's spring palette.

The garden is a horticultural work of art, formed through centuries of landscape design, with influences of ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton. Four lakes form the heart of the garden, with paths circulating through the glades and wooded areas surrounding them. Each owner has left their impression, which can still be seen today in the layout of the lakes, the construction of Pulham Falls, the planting of Palm Walk and the many different species from around the world.

Our vast collection of trees and large shrubs have been planted to create vistas that enhance the feeling of scale and grandeur of the property.  The garden has received a Grade I listing and holds the national collection of Ghent Azaleas. 

Monthly highlights

Spring bursts into life with a fabulous show as bluebells and daffodils herald the arrival of warmer weather, native and non-native trees start to blossom, while rhododendrons and azaleas compete with their bold displays. Each month brings another layer of colour. Read on for some examples of what you can expect (and what you might be surprised to find) this season in the garden. 

A beautiful pink camellia at Sheffield Park and Garden
Sheffield Park camellia
A beautiful pink camellia at Sheffield Park and Garden

Camellias: These woodland plants grow best in shelter and dappled shade. The best examples can be found creating arbours on Flint Road and around Palm Avenue. The colours of the flowers vary from white through pink to red.

Purple toothwort (Lathraea clandestine): This is a small parasitic flowering plant which lacks chlorophyll and feeds off of the root systems of woody plants. It first appeared in Sheffield Park on a dead Sorbus tree stump around seven years ago and has since spread up Aucklandii Walk getting all of its nutrients from rhododendron roots. It does no harm to the host plant and, interestingly, its nectar is specially designed to attract bumblebees exclusively.

Daffodils: We recently planted thousands upon thousands of daffodil bulbs at one of the most picturesque points of the garden, where the land sweeps majestically up fron the top of Ten Foot Pond to the Mansion. Don't miss their fanfare of gold and yellow during March. 

Spring Daffodil
Spring Daffodil
Spring Daffodil

Snake’s Head Fritillary (Fritillaria maleagris): Fritillaria is a genus of the lily family. They are characterised by their bell-shaped flowers which appear in early spring. A geographic checked pattern covers their petals which tremble in the breeze.

A Snake's Head Fritillary at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
A Snake's Head Fritillary at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
A Snake's Head Fritillary at Sheffield Park, East Sussex

Japanese azalea (Rhododendron ‘Hinomayo’): One of the most popular Japanese azaleas, ‘Hinomayo’ produces small bright pink, funnel-shaped flowers in spring and early summer in a dense cloud of colour covering the bushes.

The vibrant colours of the rhododendrons at Sheffield Park and Garden
Sheffield Park rhododendrons
The vibrant colours of the rhododendrons at Sheffield Park and Garden
Pheasant standing in bluebells at Sheffield Park, East Sussex

Bluebells at Sheffield Park and Garden

Mid April until late May is the perfect time for a visit to see the bluebells at Sheffield Park. Discover the best places to enjoy the seasonal show of bluebells in the garden and on the parkland.


Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum): This small tree flowers before the leaves appear.  The sweetpea-like flowers form in late spring and bud from the branches and trunk.  There are just three specimens in the garden.

Rhododendron hybrids: From late April to early June, the garden is a blaze of colour with the many varieties of large-leaved hybrids.  These do not all flower at the same time, so the vistas are continually changing.

Rhododendrons in bloom at Sheffield Park and Garden

Rhododendrons at Sheffield Park and Garden

Sheffield Park's 1,000 spectacular Rhododendrons come into bloom between mid-May and early June.

Highlights throughout the season

Mirror-like lakes

Lake at Sheffield Park reflecting surrounding planting

Water has always been a key element of the landscape at Sheffield Park and our four lakes have become an iconic feature, much photographed and enjoyed by everyone who visits.  Their hand-dug, clay-lined construction creates dramatic reflections of the carefully planned planting that surrounds them.

" rhododendrons are massed upon the banks and when the wind passes over the real flowers the water flowers shake and break into each other."
- Virginia Woolf, 1937

Pulham Falls

Pulham Falls at Sheffield Park and Garden

The Pulham Falls, which connect Ten Foot Pond and Middle Lake, were commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Sheffield and installed between 1882 and 1885 by Pulham and Son.  We turn the falls on between 12.00 – 1.00pm every Tuesday and Friday – a spectacular sight to take in during your visit.