Unless you've spent some time studying local guide books, you're unlike to realise that the gardens on the west of the High Weald are in many ways a family; developed in parallel, using species tracked down by the same plant hunters, and many connected through the Loder family.
High Beeches is the original home of the Loder family. Colonel Giles Loder, who was the father of Edmund and Gerald Loder, was a passionate plant collector from the age of 22.
Sir Edmund Loder married Marion Hubbard, purchasing Leonardslee from his parents-in-law in 1889 when he began extensive development of the gardens. His younger brother, Gerald Loder, later Lord Wakehurst, began the development of Wakehurst gardens around 1902.
Nymans was made famous by the bold and innovative Messel family, who began their more radical landscaping in 1895. Their creativity was galvanised by friendships and rivalries with local gardening luminaries such as the Loder family and the Stephenson Clarkes.
Colonel Stephenson R Clarke purchased Borde Hill in 1892 and the garden developed alongside his interest. He was primarily a collector rather than a designer and emphasis was given to wild species rather than cultivars.
The Messels and Stephenson Clarkes developed their gardens simultaneously using the same plant hunters (including Harold Comber, son of James Comber the head gardener at Nymans) and therefore Nymans and Borde Hill can almost be viewed as sister gardens.
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