“ Ardingly, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex. PUBLIC GARDENS, managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 170 acres of ornamental gardens, woodland, wetland and meadow. Shop, restaurant and facilities for the disabled. On the B2028 off Jn 10, M23. „
I have been a member of National Trust for four years. During the period I have visited many national trust properties. Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank was one of them.
Brief information about Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank:
Wakehurst Place was the National Trust's most visited property for 2008-2009 fiscal year. It comprises a late 16th century country house and a mainly 20th century garden. As the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Wakehurst Place features natural woodland and lakes, formal gardens, and the 21st-century architecture of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank.
The Millennium Seed Bank is launched in 2000 and located in Wakehurst Place. Its purpose is to provide an "insurance policy" against the extinction of plants in the wild by storing seeds for future use.
Wakehurst Place is located near Ardingly, West Sussex, England. You can drive your car to get Wakehurst. There is a big parking area which is near the entrance. It's also accessible by train or by bus.
What to see at Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank:
First is the Millennium Seed Bank. It was the first seed bank I have visited in my life and I really like it. The bank has collected the seeds from over 24000 species of plants, representing 10% of the world's dry land flora. By the way it has collected seeds from all the UK's native flora. I was pleased to see some seeds from China.
You can see some unusual seeds displayed in the glasses. You can also see how they deal with the seeds in the bank. When the seeds arrive first they need to be cleaned and their identification confirmed. Then they would be dried and stored in sub-zero conditions.
The second place to see is an Elizabethan house, which has five unfurnished rooms. In 1590 Edward Culpepper completed the present building. It originally formed a square courtyard, but now just one compete side remains. The building is a Grade 1 listed building. There is a room named the Blue Room, in which you can see the wall covering is a silk fabric. There are a few pieces of furniture. I was impressed by a Chien Lung Chinese leather four-fold screen, which is painted and gilded with figures on terraces, etc.
Last but not least you can see the garden. My first impression was it's an exquisite garden. However when I followed the tourist guide to walk around the ground I felt it's a big park too. You can see plants from different countries around the world. Most of them have signs, which tell you what they are. I was pleased to see some tress originally from China. However my most favourite one was a big chestnut tree, which was very much like a wedding cake. Bear in mind the journey through changing landscapes of garden, wetland and woodland is about 40 minute walking. It starts in the front of the house and ends there too.
Opening times and price:
Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Last admission to Seed Bank and house 90 minutes before closing.
Wakehurst Place hosts many weddings and events and may be closed to the public. Better to check National Trust or Kew websites before going.
Currently the admissions are £12 for adult and free for children under 17 years old (must be accompanied by an adult). As it is a National Trust property, it's free for National Trust members.
Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank is a great place for garden lovers. To ordinary tourists it's an enjoyable place to explore too.
Nearby Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank you can also visit Standen, Arts and Crafts family home with Morris & Co. interiors; and Bateman's, home of Rudyard Kipling.
For more tourist sites please visit my blog: http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.co.uk/