My name is Simon Croucher and I am the head gardener at Paradise Park gardens. I’ve worked for Tates for 17 years, have a real passion for gardening and feel very lucky to do this as a job. I work with a small but dedicated team and together we maintain the Paradise Park gardens and keep them looking beautiful for our thousands of visitors.
The Paradise Park garden is a heritage trail that shows the history of Sussex and its landmarks and was first planted over 30 years ago. Although the trail has been maintained and improved through the years, some areas require a refresh. During the lockdowns of the last two years, we took the opportunity to start some renovation projects and update the gardens to appeal to a broader audience. As we plant these stunning new gardens, I’d like to share their stories with you, from design through to planting.
Creating a Juliet Sargeant designed garden
One of the gardens we have recently renovated is our Hastings net huts garden which features miniature versions of the unique tall black wooden sheds that were built to provide a weather proof store for fishing gear on Hastings beach. We enlisted the help of Chelsea gold medal winning designer and Gardener’s World presenter, Juliet Sargeant, who designed a garden themed on the seaside with over 1000 blue and white plants to represent the rolling waves of the Hastings sea. There is a viewing platform above the garden so that our visitors can look down onto the garden, as if they were looking out to sea, and view the other gardens and the miniature train making its regular route, in the distance.
Our first job was to remove a number of over grown shrubs and concrete from the posts that held up the old stairway and walkway so that we could really see the area that we had to work with. Once we’d got that cleared, Juliet gave us her planting plan and the rest of the ground preparation could begin. The posts for the new lookout walkway were set in concrete, the existing model buildings repositioned and soil improver and multi-purpose compost was dug in to the garden area ready for planting. The old fencing was removed and replaced with a rope barrier so that the view of the plants is less obstructed.
Once everything was finished – the planting, new decking and fencing installed and the new Hastings nets huts built – we stood back and enjoyed the view…. for just a moment. Now our task is to maintain, weed, dead head and tidy the area so that the garden can mature and flower to give the amazing seaside effect it was designed for. Keep an eye on our Instagram @pparknewhaven, for flowering updates and come and visit soon!