New head gardener appointed at historic Sussex estate

A new head gardener has been appointed at historic Sussex estate Parham House and Gardens near Storrington.

Leading horticulturist Andrew Humphris, previously head gardener at West Lodge Estate in Dorset, will lead a team of six gardeners at Parham - including his wife Jo.

Parham Park chairman Lady Emma Barnard said: “We’re very excited that Andrew has joined us and are greatly looking forward to working with him to care for the garden over the time to come.

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“With his help and guidance, we will be continuing the programme of renewal, renovation and conservation that we started in 2020 - Andrew’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable.

Parham House and Gardens. Photo: Trevor Sims

“Even ancient gardens reach a point where they need revitalising, and the energy and professional competence which Andrew brings with him to Parham are a great asset.

“We chose to turn the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the closure to visitors during 2020 into a positive; an excellent opportunity to deal with some longstanding issues in the garden.

“I truly believe that the coming years are the perfect time to continue this work, responding to the garden’s past and its very strong ‘sense of place’ in a way that will enable it to move forward with verve, but always in keeping with its traditions and the soft romantic style unique to Parham.”

At his previous post at West Lodge Estate in Dorset, Andrew established and improved a new garden and landscape, including working in conjunction with leading designers.

He spent his early career as head gardener with the National Trust at The Courts and then at the garden of Biddulph Grange, before becoming head gardener at Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire, where he worked closely with the owners to replant and remodel the now celebrated garden there.

Andrew has also regularly lectured on many aspects of horticulture, and he took part on Gardeners’ Question Time for BBC Radio Shropshire for six years.

In 2014 he was awarded the Loyal and Outstanding Service Award by the Professional Gardeners Guild.

Andrew’s team at Parham now include his wife Jo who works on a part-time basis. Jo herself is also a knowledgeable and experienced gardener.

She studied for the three-year Diploma in Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, followed by various student placements, including a year as an international student at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia, USA.

Jo then went on to become head gardener involved in the restoration of the 18th-century landscape and walled garden at Belcombe Court, before working with Andrew at Wollerton Old Hall and latterly at West Lodge Estate.

Andrew said: “Both Jo and I are thrilled to be here at such a pivotal moment for Parham. We know how much love there is for this garden and we’re looking forward to working in this historic setting in collaboration with the family and the rest of the garden team to move the garden on to its next phase in its long history.”

Normally open to visitors four days a week between Easter and mid-October, Parham is as renowned for its precious collection of rare needlework, paintings and furniture as for its award-winning gardens.

It had to remain closed to the public in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic but it is hoped that it will re-open this year. A decision will be taken in the coming months, in line with Government advice.