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Wed 3rd January 2018
New Magnolia Grove marks 125th anniversary of Borde Hill gardens

Borde Hill near Haywards Heath in West Sussex was purchased in 1893 by Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke with the express intention of creating a magnificent garden from seeds gathered by the great plant hunters of the early 1900s.  

The Colonel was a horticultural pioneer and sponsored plant hunting trips to Japan, China, Burma, Tasmania and the Andes and kept correspondence from his favourite plant hunters including George Forrest, Ernest Wilson Frank Kingdon-Ward and Reginald Farrer. 

He was responsible for sourcing and planting rare trees with 73 of his trees at Borde Hill now attaining ‘champion’ status including magnolias collected from China, America and Japan.   These rare trees and shrubs were positioned in the best conditions and soil because for the Colonel “right plant, right place” came above design.

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the purchase of Borde Hill by the Stephenson Clarke family, Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke (current family in residence), will open the Garden in March 2018 and unveil the ‘Gardiner Grove’, a meadow planted with 48 specimen magnolia trees chosen by RHS Vice President Jim Gardiner.  Jim is a magnolia specialist and was a former president of Magnolia Society International. 

The plants, collections of hybrids of Magnolia acuminata and Magnolia sprengeri have been propagated and generously donated by John Ravenscroft of Cherry Tree Arboretum.  
E H Wilson introduced the original Magnolia sprengeri from China and a seedling from the Caerhays plant (received by the Colonel on the 29th June 1946) flourishes at Borde Hill. The ‘Gardiner’s Grove’ will show the diversity of this amazing plant as well as the influence of Magnolia sprengeri on modern Magnolia hybrids. 

The Grove will be named after Jim Gardiner and unveiled on March 22nd 2018.