Discover a hidden oasis designed by Sir Roy Strong, former director of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and his late wife Julia Trevelyan Oman. As you wander through glades decorated with bear statues, dazzling displays of tulips and towering hedgerows, you see that the couple have left their creative mark on every inch of this place.
If you’re looking for an archetypical English country garden then this is the place. Located close to Dartmoor National Park, while away the hours in the Cottage Garden where views stretch across the surrounding countryside and soak up the heady scents of magnolias and rhododendrons in the Bulb Meadow. Don’t leave without seeing the Jubilee Arboretum with its glistening lake, cascading waters and bridges.
Stroll through gardens restored to their Victorian beauty with romantic statue walks and wild rose dell. Hide away from the world in the summerhouse, with views of the formal gardens, alternatively, you can find a spot in the fern dell grotto to relax in a gorgeous green space. The Brodsworth Hall gardens have seasonal blooms as well, meaning whatever time of year you visit, there will always be a new sight to drink in.
A garden filled with follies and hand-built by its loving curator, the Westonbury Mill Water Gardens are a Herefordshire haven. From the mill powering water through the mouth of a grumpy gargoyle, to a sparkling dome made from glass bottles, there’s a variety of things to explore.
Alongside a house dating back to 1581, you can explore a garden from the 18th century, thought to have been designed by Charles Legh in the style of Capability Brown. Float through the rose garden with its beautiful scents, and roses climbing pillars and rope swags, or enter a world of dancing water in the formal Flower Parterre.
Beth Chatto took a boggy, overgrown scrap of land, and transformed it into an inspirational informal garden in 1960. Now open to the public, it’s a delight of different garden styles. Relax in the woodland garden with its ferns and daffodils, or explore the lake of the water garden, containing lily pads and various reeds. There’s even a shop with comprehensive collections for you to take home and plant yourself.
With Mottisfont’s walled rose garden collection of old-fashioned roses blooming just once a year, you might feel like June is the only time to go, but beyond the fantastically fragrant roses, there’s so much more to discover. The spring that encouraged settlement at Mottisfont hundreds of years ago is now the heart of a fresh green walk, and the National Collection of plane trees provide shade on sunny days.
Once the home to the School of Horticulture for Ladies, Waterperry Gardens is now eight acres of landscaped ornamental gardens waiting to be explored. Wander alongside classical borders and the Long Colour Border, then fnd a sculpture of The Tempest’s Miranda at the Waterlily Canal. When you’re done exploring, you can step into the Art in Action gallery to admire locally crafted goods and original works.
Sprawling over 1150 acres, the Leighton Hall Gardens are walled and overflowing with blooms. Designed after a cottage style, but on a much larger scale, the gardens include an herbaceous border, plenty of roses, and 18th century woods. Children can hunt for the hidden tree faces, or take on the caterpillar maze. For adults, there’s the stunning Millennium Angel to admire, and a network of footpaths to stroll.
Burton Agnes Hall not only has a beautiful woodland walk, on which you can find giant caterpillars and other creepy-crawly sculptures, but also a walled garden containing over 3000 different plants. Based on the original Elizabethan garden that was there so many years before, it combines old and new styles to create a gorgeous place of rest.
The gardens at Highgrove offer a personalised two hour tour, or you can wander as a group with your guide through Royal Gardens to see the Kitchen Garden, The Sundial Garden, and The Stumpery. At the end of the tour you can retire to the Orchard Restaurant for delicious fine dining. There’s the option to buy a few blooms to take home too!
There really are few experiences that can match seeing the world-renowned topiary at Levens Hall, home of the oldest topiary in the world. Beyond the intricately carved hedges, you’ll find foxgloves and roses, and a fragrant herb garden where the bed plantings change regularly. There are even double herbaceous borders to enjoy alongside a beautiful lawn.
There is an award-winning garden on the estate of a house recently used in the film Far From the Maddening Crowd. Look out across the croquet lawn, groomed to perfection, and see the remains of a 17th-century parterre. The Italianate Garden has grottos and fountains, whilst the 1960s orangery beautifully frames a topiary laced lawn and a selection of borders. Mapperton is an oasis of structured calm.
Explore the lovingly crafted gardens of Belsay Hall. The stone for the house was carved from a nearby quarry on the estate, and owner Sir Charles, inspired by the Picturesque movement, was inspired to turn this into a romantic quarry garden. The microclimate at Belsay allows tender plants to grow far beyond their normal northern limit. There’s also a rose garden, Crag Wood Walk, and a winter garden on the 40 acre estate.
Holker Hall has 25 acres of immaculate gardens, and 200 acres of ‘natural’ parkland. Make your way through the rhododendrons in the spring, or stand at the base of the Holker Great Lime; one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees that stands at 72 feet tall. Children will love making their way through the Holker Labyrinth. And for the discerning expert, there are some incredibly rare plants that call Holker home, including a collection of Styracacae.
Tucked away in a quiet section of Hampstead, Fenton House is a true hidden gem. Full of character and life, this 17th-century house and walled garden are unlike anything else in London. From the balcony, you can enjoy spectacular views across the city, while the garden is home to statues, a range of flowers, and an apple orchard!