Summer in the garden at Sheffield Park

Crimson waterlilies on the lake at Sheffield Park, East Sussex

This season the garden comes alive with kingfishers and dragonflies darting across the water lily covered lakes. Sun dappled glades wait to be discovered and the cooling sound of the cascade soothes and calms on a hot summers day.

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 tree and shrub species from around the world.


Water has always been a key element of the landscape at Sheffield Park and our five lakes have become an iconic feature, which is 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.

Pulham Falls

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 and a great photo opportunity during your visit.

Pulham Falls at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
Pulham falls in Spring at Sheffield Park East Sussex
Pulham Falls at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex

Trees and shrubs

Our vast collection of trees and large shrubs are planted to create vistas that enhance the feeling of scale and grandeur of the property.  The garden has received a Grade I listing and contains over 60 champion trees.  Each month sees a change in the garden.  Below are some examples of what you might expect to find this season:


Kalmia latifolia (calico bush): A medium-sized evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves, it produces round flowers in large clusters which vary in colour from dark pink to white.  There are several of these plants near Nyssa Grove and other parts of the garden.

The pink flowers of Kalmia latifolia, or calico bush
Kalmia latifolia, or calico bush, at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
The pink flowers of Kalmia latifolia, or calico bush

Abies koreana (Korean fir): This native of the mountains of South Korea grows at altitudes of 1,000-1,900m in temperate rain forest.  It has very interesting clusters of small maroon/blue cones, looking like candles, which appear in early summer.


Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree):  This tree produces tulip-shaped greenish yellow flowers with orange banding in summer. Although the tree’s common name derives from the shape of the flowers, there is no scientific link between tulips and the tree. The leaves are glossy dark green, with an unusual shape. The Chinese tulip tree has similar shaped leaves but catkins instead of flowers.

Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree) Has large bright green heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are white in colour and appear during July. Later on in the season the fruits appear as long thin pods containing the seeds.  The Catalpa on Coke Road was severely damaged in the 1987 hurricane and has survived due to the use of stout props. The top of each prop was hollowed to fit the branches and spread the weight.


Euonymus planipes (Flat stalked spindle tree) There are several species of Euonymus to be found in the garden. This particular species produces small flowers in August which then give rise to round, bright red fruit that open out to reveal orange seeds. The leaves turn bright red in autumn. This plant is also called Euonymus sachalinensis.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree)  A deciduous tree from eastern Asia similar to a Judas tree. There is a group of 10 in the garden near the Gentian Beds. In late summer to early autumn the foliage turns pale yellow to smoky dark pink with the aroma of burnt sugar or caramel in favourable conditions.

Garden Tours

Visit on a Tuesday or Thursday throughout the summer to join a garden tour at 11am lead by one of our volunteers. You'll learn more about the history of the garden and the people who helped to nurture and develop it to what it is today. Tours last approximately 1 hour.