The arrival of spring is being marked with a bumper display of daffodils at Michelham House Priory House & Gardens in Upper Dicker near Hailsham – with more than 80,000 of the flowers in 18 varieties bursting into bloom throughout the heritage site’s grounds.

Expected to peak during April, visitors can expect swathes of daffodils with bright golden cultivars like ‘Dutch Master’, gardener’s favourites like ‘Carlton’, and the exquisite ‘Sempre Avanti’, which translates in Italian to “always ahead”, a large flower with cream petals surrounding an orange cup. There will also be white cultivars, like ‘Misty Glen’, and dwarf varieties such as ‘Tête-à-tête’.

Head Gardener James Neal said: “For anyone that has been longing for winter to end, our 80,000 daffodils will offer a heartening sight. The British weather will decide exactly when the blooms begin, but we know it’ll be well worth the wait!

“My favourite view is toward the back of the house, on the South Lawns, where we have masses of daffodils on a slightly raised bed. In the afternoon light, you can sit and watch the sunset, with glowing golden beams appearing through the yellow petals as the sun dips behind them.

“Another beautiful sight is our White Garden, where the snowdrops and crocuses will soon give way to ‘Thalia’, a pure white daffodil with large, fragrant flowers. It is planted up with the elegant, cream-coloured ‘Purissima’ tulip as the flowers’ complementing shapes create a dream-like scene.

“My favourite daffodil has to be the striking miniature ‘Rip Van Winkle’, with its unusual, fluffy pom-pom appearance.”

Celebrated by Shakespeare as the flower that “comes before the swallow dares”, the daffodil has an interesting history, prized by the Romans for its supposed healing powers before its commercial viability as a cut flower was realised in the 19th century.

“Britain’s only native daffodil, Narcissus
pseudonarcissus, or the Lent Lily, which is paler and smaller than its counterparts, can be seen growing our Cloister Garden,” said James.

“This garden exclusively features plants that would have been available in the medieval era, with the Narcissus pseudonarcissus growing alongside other ancient spring flowers such as primula, primrose and wood anemone. The lawn will eventually be cut back into a summer meadow, or a floral mead to use the medieval term.”

The display’s scale is thanks to charitable donations from de Jager bulbs and the Friends of Michelham Priory.

“When we first received the 80,000 bulbs, which we planted a few years ago, the sheer volume took up our entire staff car park and it took a whole day to simply move them into better storage!” said James.

Michelham Priory House & Gardens is open to visitors from 10.30am to 5pm from March to September (it will remain open, with different hours, during autumn.) Tickets to the grounds start at £9.50 for an adult, £4.50 for a child, £9.00 for a senior concession and £15 for a family.

Members of the Sussex Archaeological Society can visit Michelham Priory House & Gardens, and the other Sussex Past heritage sites and museums, free of charge. Membership is priced at £40 for individuals, £58 for joint membership and £70 for a family.

As the Society is a registered charity, it is possible to Gift Aid tickets.