Worthing’s popular Highdown Gardens have received a major boost from the National Lottery funding to help preserve their future.
The gardens, home to hundreds of rare and exotic plants and trees uniquely grown on chalk soil, are visited by tens of thousands of people every year.
Worthing Borough Council, which owns and maintains the gardens, successfully applied for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money to develop a long-term plan for gardens.
The fund has awarded almost £100,000 to the council to develop a new plan for the 8.5 acre gardens.
Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for the environment, councillor Diane Guest, said; “I’m delighted to hear about the award of HLF Stage One money.
“Highdown Gardens is a jewel in our crown and I think the council can be justifiably proud of our work keeping Sir Frederick Stern’s legacy intact.
“However this money will allow us to develop a plan which will preserve the future of Highdown, its important plant collection and increase enjoyment for the tens of thousands of visitors who enjoy the gardens every year.”
The new long term plan includes:
– Action to preserve plants which could be crucial to stopping extremely rare specimens becoming extinct.
– The establishment of breeding processes to ensure the survival of the rare plants.
– The building of a new visitor centre to tell the story of the gardens and its surrounding landscape.
– Plans to tell the fascinating story of the originator of the gardens, Sir Frederick Stern, and his contribution to worldwide horticulture.
– Proposals to develop community ownership of the gardens through a full volunteer programme.
Highdown was designated a National Collection in 1989 to recognise that Sir Frederick had proved something most experts told him he could not: to grow plants on terrain with just a few inches of soil above chalk.
Chalky soils are notoriously difficult to grow on.
Sir Frederick left the gardens to the council after his death in 1967.
Plans are also being developed to catalogue the number of different species in the garden.