Colour can pack a punch or be very subtle - it enhances our world and in the garden can bring areas to life. The different colour hues imbue a range of emotions, from soothing to stimulating, while bringing a sense of depth and perspective to the garden. Never a static display, the effect changes in different weather and times of the day through the seasons.

Variety, contrast and imagination are the keys to creating colour combinations in your garden. When planning, take into account the architectural style of your house and garden, as well as the colours used in the building materials of the house, paving paths, steps, walls and fences. The quality of light in different areas of the garden and through the seasons needs to be considered as well. Strong colours work well in bright sunlight, for example, where pale colours can look bleached out. Strolling around wonderfully colourful gardens will inspire and help you to paint your own landscape canvas. Many also serve delicious teas and refreshments, generally at an extra cost, to complete your visit and encourage relaxing while soaking up the atmosphere and colour palette. Here, in alphabetical order, are 25 gorgeously colourful gardens to explore…

1. Arundel Castle

The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk’s inspirational gardens are a kaleidoscope of colour through the seasons – from bright combinations of bulbs, through the textural tapestries of herbaceous borders, to wafting cheerful wildflowers. Look out also for tropical areas with hot, zingy colours and the tranquil white themed garden.

Opening times

Arundel Castle, Arundel BN18 9PA

Open 28 March to 3 Nov, (10 – 5)

2. Bateman’s

Once home to Rudyard Kipling this enchanting Jacobean house and garden has a special atmosphere and transports you back to a different era. The colours are soft and nostalgic as you wander the different areas. From formal lawns edged in beds to the enclosed rose garden and wild garden, take time to admire the details.

Opening times

Bateman’s, Burwash, TN19 7DS

Open through the year

3. Bates Green

John McCutchan is continuing the legacy of the lovely garden created by his wife Carolyn, an acclaimed plantswoman. This is a tranquil landscape where tones are subtle, thought through with all elements of the plants considered for the right plant in the right place. Bark, seedheads, stems, flowers, foliage all play a part in the innate style of this layered garden, from early bulbs to autumnal beauty.

Opening times

Bates Green, Arlington, BN26 6SH

Open every Wednesday until 23 Oct, also NGS days

Adm £7, chd £3.50

4. 35 Blount Ave

Opening with a group of East Grinstead gardens, this small town garden is contemporary with various colour-themed sections, full of ideas to inspire. One side of a neatly clipped lawn is in warm tones, the other is pretty pink and purple hues. Even the front drive entrance is carefully considered for combinations.

Opening times

East Grinstead Gardens

35 Blount Ave, RH19 1JJ, details on website for the other locations and parking

National Garden Scheme: Sun 30 June (1-5)

Combined adm £6, chd free, home-made teas

5. Borde Hill Garden

One of the country’s most beautiful gardens with living garden rooms of different themes, including a stately Italian garden, herbaceous borders and a spectacular rose garden with David Austin varieties, ranging from apricot to carmine tones, accompanied by atmospheric planting. There are 17 acres of botanically rich gardens, created over many years, with wonderful mature trees and shrubs, along with lovely companion planting ideas, all set within a classic English garden.

Opening times

Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP

Open to 22 Dec

Adm £12, chd £8

6. Butlers Farmhouse

A rather quirky and delightfully inventive garden, with both the expected and the more unexpected country garden planting schemes. For our colour theme there is a rainbow border and you’ll also find a poison garden, a secret jungle garden and Cornish-inspired seaside corners by the pool. Upcycled containers and decorative pieces add further interest, and a wildflower meadow blends into the views to the South Downs beyond.

Opening times

Butlers Farmhouse, Herstmonceux, BN27 1QH

NGS: Sun 7 Apr, Thurs 13, Fri 14 June, Sat 24, Sun 25 Aug

Adm £5 , £7 Aug with live jazz, chd free, home-made teas, refreshments

Visits also by arrangement until Oct

7. Clinton Lodge

This classic English garden has a romantic atmosphere where peonies bloom, roses entwine and scented herbs entice in a Medieval style potager. The six acres are divided into rooms, which also include a formal knot garden, a folly, an orchard and a wildflower garden, linked with hedging, allées and a cloister walk inspired by a pre-Raphaelite painting. Look for the double blue and white herbaceous borders and the harmonious colour combinations throughout.

Opening times

Clinton Lodge, Fletching, TN22 3ST

NGS: Thurs 20 June (11-5)

Adm £7, chd free, home-made teas from 12, no lunches

8. Great Dixter House, Garden and Nurseries

For garden lovers across the globe this high-energy garden, once home to the late Christopher Lloyd, an iconic gardener, is a place of pilgrimage for a master class in using vibrant, hot colours., such as the dark-foliaged red Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ against orange cannas and purple Verbena bonariensis in the exotic that has been much copied since. The legacy of this important garden is carried on under the guidance of Fergus Garrett and his team for visitors to continue to enjoy the range of garden areas and attached nursery.

Opening times

Great Dixter House and Garden, Northiam, TN31 6PH

Adm House and Garden £16, chd £5

9. Highlands

Vibrant, densely planted borders, form a tapestry wave of hues from annuals and perennials, resplendent in colour themes, including hot, pink and white themed beds. The garden by the house is a feast for the eyes, and as you wander further colours soften and meld into the surrounding landscape with shimmering meadows buzzing with life.

Opening times

Highlands, Framfield, TN22 5SA

NGS: Sat 15 June, (10-4.30)

Adm £9, chd free, home-made teas, pre-booking essential

10. Hollymount

In spring the scene is of rich pinks and mauve rhododendrons, followed by bright drifts and blocks of perennials through summer. Terraced beds, some tropical planting, wildflowers, large ponds and unexpected alpacas, pigs, chickens and ducks will delight the youngsters.

Opening times

Hollymount, High Hurstwood, TN22 4AE

NGS: Suns 26 May, 23 June, 21 July, 25 Aug (12-5)

Adm £7, chd free, home-made teas

11. Knightsbridge House

Summer to autumn sees the peak of the atmospheric borders where annuals and perennials are planted in large drifts down from the house. Close to the house rich pinks and purples mingle in artistically planted beds while, as you journey down the slope, the colours become more mellow with burnt oranges and deep maroons against parchment-toned ornamental grasses.

Opening times

Knightsbridge House, Hellingly, BN27 4HH

NGS: Wed 10, Sat 13 July, Wed 4, Sat 7 Sept (2-5)

Adm £7, chd free, home-made teas, plant sales - cash

12. Malthouse Farm

An atmospheric rural garden of different areas set over five acres and backed by views to the South Downs. Seasonal colour abounds, both from planting as well as decorative detailing from painted furniture and sculptures. Formal areas include a box parterre, while informality with densely planted herbaceous borders then melds into wildflowers, an orchard, grass walks, a birch maze, wildlife pond and willow tunnel. The garden is a series of picturesque vignettes, and there is also an attractively planted kitchen and cut flower garden and plants for sale.

Opening times

Malthouse Farm, Streat, BN6 8SA

NGS: Sun 1 Sept (2-5.30)

Adm £7, chd free, home-made teas

Visits also by arrangement Apr-Sept groups 10 – 40

13. Merriments

A four-acre display garden adjacent to popular garden centre, imaginative plantings, with colour-themed borders, ensure eye-catching displays from spring until autumn. Deep, sweeping beds edge verdant lawns, a striking Oriental bridge spans two ponds, a scree garden offers ideas for dry areas, wildflowers carpet the ground under a stand of silver birch and there is also a grass garden with jewel-like highlights of vibrant perennials. The new herbalsit garden is a harmonious confection of scents, colours and textures and the flourishing kitchen garden supplies produce for the restaurant.

Opening times

Merriments, Hurst Green, TN19 7RA

14. Nyetimber Manor

A hidden delight awaits the visitor nestled beyond the vineyards, where you’ll discover everything you could imagine a characterful country garden to have. Colour combinations are thought through in infill to neatly clipped foils of domes, topiary and hedging, deep herbaceous borders billow with warm tones, flowers and roses soften the courtyard, while topiary reflected in lily ponds frames views to the South Downs. Only redesigned and planted since 2020 this a garden to then revisit and be inspired by the continuing stunning evolution.

Opening times

Nyetimber Manor, Nyetimber Vineyard, Pulborough, RH20 2HH

NGS: Fri 9 Aug (9.30-5)

Adm £15, chd £7.50, pre-booking essential, timed slots

Home-made teas in medieval barn

15. Nymans

Every season is wonderful at Nymans, a National Trust property near Handcross, with highlights from bulbs and blossom in spring, through summer borders ablaze with colour, to autumnal foliage hues and the bare structural beauty of mature trees in winter. The garden was started by Ludwig Messel in 1890, was then looked after by his family and become a National Trust property in 1953. A collector’s garden but also with designed areas, and a backdrop of wonderful far reaching views.

Opening times

Nymans, Handcross, RH17 6EB

16. The Old Vicarage

Gardens for a long season spread around the handsome Regency house. Formal in the front and melding into the landscape of the North Downs beyond in the rear garden, there are curved borders, some mixed herbaceous, others with architectural foliage, and richly toned, fine trees along with a water garden. There are many pockets of interest, including a Japanese inspired waterfall, pond and stands of bamboo, a working kitchen garden and an Italianate gazebo. Seating is strategically placed to enjoy the closer vignettes and the wider vistas.

Opening times

The Old Vicarage, Washington, RH20 4AS

NGS: Multiple days through the season, pre-booking essential

Visits also by arrangement Feb-10 Oct for groups 10 – 30

Adm £7, chd free, light refreshments and picnics welcome

See website for details

17. Parham House and Garden

Surrounding one of the country’s finest Elizabethan houses, you will be enchanted also by the gardens. This cherished family home since 1577 has seen multiple changes to the garden over the centuries. Within the four-acre walled garden you’ll wander white gravel paths bounded by colour-themed borders, such as the new blue border where blues intermingle with lavenders, greens, white and deep magenta, and also be inspired by the array of floriferous choices in the cut flower garden and neatly ordered kitchen garden. A joy to visit and come under the spell of this timeless place.

Opening times

Parham House & Gardens, Pulborough, RH20 4HS

Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sun and BHM through the season (12-5), café

Adm House and Garden £15.50, conc. £14.50, chd £7.50, Gardens only £11.50, £10.50, £5, cashless, all purchases credit or debit card

18. Parsonage Farm

This is an impressive garden on a grand scale with a fruit theme and many unusual plants. Orange and blue themed borders with kniphofia and salvias are highlighted with vibrant roses, cannas and gladioli. Combinations with apricot, orange, scarlet and crimson sing against the summer light. There is a large productive vegetable and fruit garden as well as tomatoes and chillies growing in a greenhouse. Formal avenues with long vistas, including a topiary walk and pleached lime allee, turf amphitheatre, autumn shrubbery, yew cloisters and a jungle walk will keep you enthralled for hours.

Opening times

Parsonage farm, Kirdford, RH14 0NH

NGS: Fri 21 June, Sun 8 Sept (2-6)

Adm £8, chd free, home-made teas

19. Pashley Manor

This quintessential English garden of rooms and areas set around a handsome period manor draws visitors from across the globe. Romantic and elegant in style, abounding with beautiful plantings through the seasons from spring to autumn, there are enticing colour combinations guiding the displays. James and Angela Sellick have been opening up their garden to the public since 1992, following restoration of the garden guided by landscape architect Anthony du Gard Pasley. The scene changes from drifts of thousands of tulips and spring blossom to the vibrant tones of the hot border in late summer and autumn. Throughout the year there are special events that include the Tulip Festival, Sculpture, as well as Rose and Kitchen garden weeks. The very popular café uses local produce, including straight from their decorative potager, a gift shop and plant sales.

Opening times

Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, TN5 7HE

Open 1 Apr – 28 Sept, Tues to Sat, BHM, and special event days (10-5)

Adm £14.50, chd 6-16, £6

20. Rymans

Wander the mix of walled and other gardens set around the characterful 15th century stone house, where you will find a mix of bulbs, annuals, perennials against fine mature trees and shrubs. Wisteria scrambles contentedly in spring, musk roses scent the air through summer and later in the season the dahlias en masse, mingle with sages, sedums, late roses and waving stands of Japanese anemones.

Opening times

Rymans, Apuldram, PO20 7EG

NGS: Sat 13, Sun 14 Apr, Sun 23 June, Sun 15 Sept (2-5)

Adm £6, chd free, home-made teas

Also by arrangement April to 3 October, groups 10 to 30

Adm £10, chd free, light refreshments

21. Saffrons

Colour combinations, both contrasting and complentary, beautifully realised feature in this artist’s garden with a joyous abundance of wonderfully blowsy sun-loving summery plants, such as salvias, dahlias and scented lilies, to the delight also of the local bees and butterflies. The theme is one of contrast in leaf shape and texture, while enhancing colours with their opposites on the colour wheel. The flower beds allow experimentation and continuous change for something new to delight in the floral medley, especially from mid to late summer.

Opening times

Saffrons, Steyning, BN44 3GJ

NGS: visits by arrangement July - 7 August groups 8 - 30

22. Sandhill Farm House

A master class of how to combine plants for different areas awaits you here. Home of of author and Principal of The English Gardening School, Rosemary Alexander, the garden is a series of gorgeously planted areas within a framework of clipped form. In the front garden there is a small woodland with soft-toned spring blossom and bloom, a Mediterranean-style terrace and a more formal white garden. The rear garden includes mirrored borders, a decorative potager and a red themed bed. Rosemary’s aim of combining the practical with the romantic is beautifully realized in this organic, environmentally-friendly garden.

Opening times

Sandhill Farm House, Rogate, GU31 5HU

NGS: Sat 27, Sun 28 Apr, Sun 9 June, Sat 21, Sun 29 September (2-5)

Adm £5, chd free, home-made teas

23. Sussex Prairie Garden

Discover how to paint your canvas in large strokes here. This is a garden of naturalistic waves of ornamental grasses and perennials, with a broad palette that has around 30,000 plants and 600 different varieties, set over six acres. The borders also serve the purpose of a living catalogue for Paul and Pauline McBride’s garden design business and stock plants for their farm nursery.

Opening times

Sussex Prairie garden, Henfield, BN5 9AT

5 days a week, closed Mon and Tues apart from BHM

1 June – 15 Oct (1-5)

RHS Partner garden

Adm £12, chd £6

For NGS: Sun 8 Sept (1-5)

24. Town Place

With a deserved international reputation, this classically designed and thoughtfully planted garden will inspire ideas also for colour combinations. Set out from the 17th century Sussex farmhouse, there are many areas to enjoy, including floriferous herbaceous borders, one with a blue and yellow scheme, another where purple tones are key, a white garden, some 400 roses in pinks and crimsons. There is also an 800-year-old oak, a unique ruined Priory church and cloisters in hornbeam, and topiary inspired by the sculptures of Henry Moore.

Opening times

Town Place, Freshfield, RH17 7NR

NGS: Sun 9, Wed 12, Wed 19, Sun 23, Sun 30 June; Sun 7 July (2-5)

Adm £8, chd free

Visits also by arrangement 3 June to 5 July

25. West Dean

A wonderful Grade II listed garden known for its restored Victorian walled kitchen garden and glasshouses. For our focus on colour, look for how masterfully it is expressed in the mirror borders, one sizzling hot in the kitchen garden where firework hues explode through summer until autumn, and one complementary with purple and yellow tones leading to the thatched summerhouse. I also love the muted tones in the dry meadow area with splashes of bright orange kniphofias popping up through ornamental grasses. Lots to explore here and look out for special events.

Opening times

West Dean Gardens, West Dean, PO18 0RX

Daily, summer – to October 31 (10.30-5)

winter Nov- Feb (10.30-4) £5, £2.50

Adm £12/£13.20 GA summer