Visiting the Carpet Gardens, Eastbourne, England: famous, floral vista at a sedate, Sussex resort

Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Carpet Gardens, Eastbourne
Carpet Gardens, Eastbourne | Source
The green alongside Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, on a sunny day
The green alongside Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, on a sunny day | Source
Flag of New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand | Source

Semi-tropical plants originate from New Zealand, Mexico and elsewhere

These brilliantly displayed flower beds and shrubs, known as the Carpet Gardens (1), are a leading landmark of the resort of Eastbourne, in England's East Sussex.

For a century or so, these well maintained beds have thus been admired by generations of visitors and local residents alike. Flower beds are complemented by the presence of fountains and cacti.

Eastbourne receives many visitors in the summer months especially and species of flower often displayed during the summer include begonia, geranium and petunia. Favoured species in springtime at the Carpet Gardens include tulip and pansy.

A notable feature of the Gardens is the use of geometric patterns for floral displays; this practice, known as 'carpet bedding' and from which the Gardens derive their name, dates from Victorian times (2).

I myself recall visiting the Carpet Gardens in the year of HM Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, which also provided a geometric theme for the bedding at this period.

The Gardens have been identified with the Britain in Bloom awards. Eastbourne's mild climate on the coast of Sussex is a leading key to the success of these floral and shrub displays. A variety of species are maintained, including some shrubs which originate from countries with warm climates: there are notably Phormiums and Cordylines from New Zealand and Algaves from Mexico.

Not for nothing is Eastbourne's coastline known as 'The Sunshine Coast', explaining why plants from semi-tropical climates such as those of New Zealand and Mexico are able to flourish here.

These often photographed Gardens are frequently recorded with the elegant backdrop of the Burlington Hotel, which dates from 1851-55; the pillared frontage of this sought after establishment is actually comprised by two hotels: the Burlington and the Claremont. A salient feature of this building is its huge, 45 bay range (3).

Another structure situated close to the Carpet Gardens is Eastbourne's Pier.

The Carpet Gardens are situated at Grand Parade, Eastbourne. With all their varied colour and vitality, the flower beds and shrubs of the Carpet Gardens arguably constitute a crowning feature of Eastbourne's Promenade area.

January 14, 2014

Notes

(1) Further details of the Carpet Gardens may be accessed at: http://www.visiteastbourne.com/Eastbourne-Carpet-Gardens/details/?dms=3&venue=3402950

(2) See also: http://www.eastbourne.gov.uk/residents/leisure-and-events/parks/carpet/

(3) Personally, I find the pediment of this elongated building to be curiously understated.

Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex | Source

Also worth seeing

In Eastbourne itself, among attractions are noted buildings and other, frequently visited sites, including the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Old Town, dating from the 12th century; and the Italianate All Souls Church, other attractions include: the Beachy Head cliffs; Eastbourne Pier (close to the Carpet Gardens); Holywell; the Redoubt fortress; the 19th century Town Hall; Sovereign Harbour; the Martello Wish Tower (also fairly close to the Carpet Gardens); Leaf Hall; and many others.

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How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York - Newark to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Eastbourne : 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Eastbourne from London Victoria railroad station. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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