The UK's National Trust is a charity managing a vast collection of properties across the country. These range from places of Historic Interest - like castles, notable houses or archeological sites - to Areas of Natural Beauty such as gardens, parks and nature reserves.
Of the latter, England's Southern county of West Sussex is blessed with many great examples. Here are 3 of the best of the Sussex National Trust garden properties:
Wakehurst Botanic Gardens
Perhaps the most well-known of the gardens on our West Sussex list is the Wakehurst Place and Gardens, thanks in part to its association with Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, which also manages the Wakehurst property.
These huge and wild botanic gardens, near the town of Crawley, are one of the jewels in the National Trust crown and are absolutely worth the visit, for a day spent outdoors amongst some of the very best botanic gardens and natural habitats that the UK has to offer!
Not to mention the on-site Millennium Seed Bank, which is one of the world's largest seed storage facilities, and is an amazing centre for science that is open to the public.
Nymans National Trust
Not far away from Wakehurst is another wonderful West Sussex National Trust property - The Nymans Gardens.
The focal point of these gardens is the enigmatic Nymans House, a Tudor/Gothic-style building that is today partially in ruin and makes for a captivating part of the estate. All around it are creatively landscaped lawns and gardens, including a romantic walled garden and the delightful English rose garden.
Elsewhere in the less cultivated parts of the estate are hundreds of varieties of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. The vast collection at Nymans is deservedly famous, and these shrubs are a magnificent sight during their springtime bloom.
The walk around the beautiful Nymans site, along tree-lined avenues or amongst the surrounding woodlands, makes for an ideal National Trust day out.
Sheffield Park and Garden
This magnificent ornamental garden and woodlands was landscaped by Capability Brown back in the 18th century, and acquired by the National Trust in the mid-1900s.
Set around a large lake, the park is a stunning sight during the autumn months when the surrounding trees and shrubs are a riot of different colours. And while the adjacent Sheffield Park House is not open for visits, it still makes an imposing backdrop to the park.
There are plenty of great lawns for kids to run around, as well as a good gift shop and plant store near the entrance. And perhaps the best part of the beautiful Sheffield park is the fact that there are so many great picnic spots - simply make your way randomly into the woods all about, leave your fellow visitors behind, and sit yourself down in one of the many serene forest glades that are perfect for some peace, quiet and contemplation.
Honourable mention: Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens
Whilst not a member of the National Trust properties, since we're listing some of the best gardens to visit in Sussex it would be remiss of us to not mention those at Leonardslee.
These woodlands and dales have been beautifully landscaped, and include an impressive collection of rhododendron species that are spectacular during the springtime months.
In addition, there are a whole bunch of other things to see and do at Leonardslee Gardens, including a deer park, a doll's house museum, an on-site vineyard, and even their very own troupe of wallabies. Great outdoor fun for the whole family!
National Trust website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/