One of the gardens taking part in this year’s Open Gardens season is the beautiful Sunniva Harte’s Garden in Hankham.

The garden is named after Sunniva ‘Sunny’ Harte, who envisioned and created the tranquil hideaway.

Sunniva’s partner, David, decided to open up the garden for the event six years ago after the hospice cared for her in February 2003.  

Sunniva was best known as a garden photographer and wrote several books on the subject including the popular Zen Gardening and A Perfect Country Garden.

Sunniva was influenced by the famous walled gardens at nearby Charleston, where she was an early guide and Charleston’s retired head gardener, Mark Divall, now helps David to maintain Sunniva’s garden.

‘It was an honour to be able to share Sunny’s work with the wider world,’ says David.

‘The actual garden is quite small, but people stay for the view,’ he said, pointing to the far-reaching views of Pevensey Marshes to be enjoyed from the garden.

‘Many come to potter around and then stay on to early evening and it can be difficult to ask them to leave,’ David says with a smile.

And we can see why! At the end of the garden is a seating area, with a bench dedicated in Sunniva’s memory. The view is breath-taking and it’s the perfect spot for light refreshments and to catch up with friends both old and new.  

‘The day is a lovely mix of regulars, locals and new people; it has become part of the community where people meet each other and spend time together,’ says David.

The garden has proved immensely popular over the years and coaches have been known to squeeze along Hankham’s narrow high street carrying hordes of eager visitors. One year they ran out of cake and had to hurry to the nearest shop to restock supplies!

As well as the stunning views, beautiful gardens and refreshments, David offers plants for sale alongside an added extra:

‘We also have a neighbour who brings their wind- up gramophone and plays some old 78s to keep the afternoon flowing. People are always making requests and singing along as they view the gardens.’

‘It’s a privilege to help St Wilfrid’s and raise money to help others.’

Last year, the garden welcomed more than 250 visitors to raise over £1,250 for St Wilfrid’s, which relies on the generosity of the local community for 70% of its funding.

With its amazing views and consistently good weather (David’s claim!), Sunniva Harte’s Garden is not to be missed this Open Gardens season.

Sunniva Harte’s Garden will be open Sunday 2nd June from 11am to 4pm. Full details of all participating gardens can be found at stwhospice.org/open-gardens