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introduced the fi r that carries his name and became an important


“Plant hunter David Douglas


feature of British gardens.”


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The gardens reached a zenith in the 1920s and 30s but inevitably felt the impact of the Second World War. Houses were requisitioned for servicemen and evacuees. At Wakehurst in 1941 billets were found for the Canadian Corps, Nymans took evacuees from a boys’ school at Buckingham Gate and a large part of the house at Leonardslee was used as an offi cers’ mess by the Canadian army. Anyone fi t and able was needed to fi ght and fi nding staff was a constant problem. Owners were left struggling to keep going with far fewer staff and, understandably, growing vegetables was given priority over cultivating rare trees and shrubs; there was certainly no fuel to spare to heat hothouses! No gardeners at all were employed at Leonardslee whereas in Sir Edmund’s time there was a garden staff of between 20 and 30. At Nymans a staff of 11 dwindled to a rump of 3 elderly men, supplemented by 2 landgirls. Inevitably, the gardens were neglected and declined.


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The High Beeches suffered an additional grievous blow. The house was burnt out when a Canadian plane crashed on a fl ight to Germany. Shortly after the end of the war the house at Nymans was also largely destroyed by fi re. Peacetime brought improvements and recovery. Leonardslee was brought back to life by Sir Edmund’s grandson Giles and his wife Marie, while Colonel Stephy’s son, Colonel Sir Ralph Stephenson Clarke revivifi ed Borde Hill. The High Beeches was extremely fortunate in new owners who came from families of expert gardeners and plantsmen, Ann Boscawen and her husband. Sir Henry Price and his second wife Lady Eve at Wakehurst brought to maturity what Gerald Loder had started, enriching the garden so that it became even more widely known. In 1963, Sir Henry bequeathed the estate to the National Trust who in turn leased it to Kew. It is now administered by Kew which has made Wakehurst a renowned centre of scientifi c research, most notably with the creation of the Millennium Seed Bank. Leonard Messel bequeathed Nymans to the National Trust,


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WALK DEPARTMENTSTORE EASTGRINSTEAD Thetoyandmodeldepartment SUSSEX LIVING 59October 2011


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