We haven’t been out much lately, so when Borde Hill Garden in Haywards Heath opened its gates again to the public, with new social distancing measures in place, we were very keen to try them out. You have to book online first, so that no money changes hands on the door. The booking system is very straightforward and worked first time with no hitches, which for a system that had to be hurriedly put in place is quite some achievement. You chose your half hour arrival slot so that arrivals are nice and steady during the day, and there was no queue at all when we arrived at 10.30am on a Saturday. After quoting your booking reference at the gate, you breeze on in.
There were activity sheets for the children, but no pencils to loan out at the moment, so take your own along if you want the children to be able to play colour bingo as they run round. I normally carry all sorts of things with me on a day out, but am seriously out of practice in how to pack for leaving the house. The one way system in place is very clearly signposted and everyone seemed to be following the rules. We did think we had got stuck in the Rose Garden at one point, but this is no bad place to be stuck, as it is one of the garden’s main attractions at this time of the year and the children love to smell every rose they can reach. It even inspired this abstract painting by Lotty aged 8 (that’s the path to the central wishing well /pond bit).
We made a second circuit of the Rose Garden and found the permitted exit which leads directly to the Gardeners Retreat cafe. After sitting outside the cafe at wooden picnic tables to eat our takeaway sandwiches, drinks and ice creams we continued our hunt for the one way signs. This actually makes the trip around the garden even more fun for the children, as it is very similar to the treasure hunt trails that Borde Hill put on regularly each year – the next one being the Garden of Imagination from 18th July – 13th September.
The rest of the navigation around the garden went very smoothly and we could easily avoid all the other visitors. Don’t drop anything on the way round though, as it could take you quite a long time to do a second circuit to recover it!. The large grassy area at the end of the walk has a short cut back to the cafe, so that you can refuel before going home. Both sets of toilets are open and you just have to go in one family unit at a time, again when we went there was no queue at all. The children’s playground and ice cream hut are currently closed, but the gift shop, which serves as the exit, is open for purchases of gifts and plants. We had a really lovely time and didn’t feel we had compromised our safety in any way by going to a public place. It is great therapy if you have been stuck in one place for a very long time.
Book your day out at Borde Hill Garden here