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Plant Hunters lost letters discovered at Borde Hill Garden PDF Print E-mail

Monday, 21 May 2012 16:49

Description: Description: F:\Master Drive (Pen PR Ltd)\Current Client Images\Borde Hill Images\plant hunters\Andy Stevens lr.jpg

Caption: Head Gardener Andy Stevens reading the plant hunter’s letters

Plant Hunters lost letters discovered at Borde Hill Garden

The challenges faced by Victorian plant hunters in their quest to find exotic varieties at the other side of the world have been brought to light in lost letters, recently discovered at Borde Hill Garden near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

Buried in decades of paperwork stored in a barn on the 200-acre Garden and Estate the letters, from such expeditionists as George Forrest, E H Wilson and Frank Kingdon-Ward, show the challenges the explorers faced in remote regions of

China, Burma and Tibet.

“We’d been hunting for the lost correspondence for some time,” says Andrew john Stephenson Clarke, whose family is celebrating its 120th year of ownership of the estate, which includes the ancestral mansion dating back to the 1598.

“But our search of the house had failed to reveal anything. Only by chance did our head gardener Andy Stevens discover the papers hidden among other storage in an old barn.

“We’re extremely excited by the find as the letters reveal exactly what life was like for the plant hunters and the hardships they had to endure in their search for varieties to bring back to Britain.

“It was in 1892 that Colonel Stephenson R Clarke bought Borde Hill and created the Garden by sponsoring the great plant hunters expeditions.”

Once they have been examined and interpreted, the lost letters will be put on show in a themed exhibition at Borde Hill, which has many fully mature and unusual trees as a result of the finds.

To tie-in with the find the Garden is hosting a four-day theatrical event this summer, inspired by the true stories of the intrepid Victorian plant hunters. 'The Seed' is a summer long project across the Great Gardens of Sussex and asks audience members to help a researcher follow clues and investigate a 'missing' seed. The project culminates in a run of performances at Borde Hill from July 19 to 22. Tickets are available from the box Office on 01243 781312. For more information visit www.cft.org.uk/other-events

The Garden is open to the public daily between 10am and 6pm. Entrance costs £8 for adults, £5 for children, or a family day ticket (2 adults + 2 children) costs £22. RHS individual members get free entrance to the gardens only during July and August.

Further information on visiting Borde Hill Garden at www.bordehill.co.uk or call 01444 450326

Press enquiries to Caroline Edmunds at Pennington PR on 01892 616647

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