Worthing’s Highdown Gardens has been declared one of the finest in the south after scooping up a prestigious Gold Award for the fourth year running.
The gardens won gold again this year in the South and South East in Bloom heritage parks and gardens category, achieving 179 out of 200 points.
To be awarded gold the Gardens had to show a panel of highly-qualified judges they are being maintained to the highest levels and are must-see places. Only gardens reaching more than 85 per cent on the judges score sheets achieve Gold standards.
Highdown Gardens are owned and maintained by Worthing Borough Council.
The council's cabinet member for digital and environmental services, Edward Crouch, said: "I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers for their hard work not just leading up to the judging but all year round.
“It is fantastic to see continued recognition for the high standards maintained at Highdown Gardens. It is a beautiful place, but it only stays so because of the hard work of all our our garden staff.
“I would like to congratulate them for their commitment and hard work and would urge the public to visit to witness the grounds for themselves.”
Winning the award is a significant achievement and demonstrates the council's commitment to maintaining the legacy of Sir Frederick Stern who established this important chalk garden in the early part of the 20th Century. Sir Frederick defied expert opinion at the time by growing exotic plants from around the world on chalk with just six inches of soil above.
The gardens are judged on criteria such as horticultural range and diversity, horticultural maintenance, sustainability, conservation, marketing and community involvement.
Following the visit, the judges said: “Highdown Gardens is a garden of excellence available for the general public to be enjoyed throughout the year. An enthusiastic team maintain the grounds of what used to be Sir Frederick Stern’s playground.
“Managed by Worthing Borough Council the team have secured a Heritage lottery fund to improve and make a real difference to the layout of the garden, to enhance and preserve the existing plant collections and to educate future generations using high end technologies.
“The garden is maintained in different sections by different teams. This approach gives a different characteristic to each section. From the abundant perennials borders to the more formal rose garden the general public is encouraged to explore its grounds.
“The team of staff and volunteers are working hard in doing everything right by composting on site, using as few resources as possible and overcoming site difficulties.
“I am pleased to offer Gold again to this remarkable garden and look forward to revisiting the garden again after the project work is completed.”
The council said it is working on plans to further develop Highdown Gardens and safeguard the national plant collection contained within, having won more than £800,000 from The National Lottery.