England's secret gardens

by Katie Rowe

Category: The great outdoors
May 21 2014

Delve behind the scenes to uncover England’s majestic secret gardens, where the passion for gardening on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show thrives all year round. With acres of beautiful blooms and pretty plants to nestle among, these are the places you can really be at one with nature.

Here's Melissa Brobby's pick of the best hidden gardens to visit in England.

Norfolk Lavender, King’s Lynn, Norfolk

If your favourite colour is purple, head to Norfolk Lavender in King’s Lynn. You can’t help but feel tranquil as you walk among the acres of swaying lavender, breathing in its calming fragrance. Children will be left open-mouthed after a trip to the Norfolk Lavender Animal Centre, where they’ll find wallabies, alpacas, the very rare and brilliantly-named Hungarian screw horned sheep, and other rare breeds of goats, pigs and poultry waiting for them. And what better way to end a marvellous trip than with a delicious cream tea with freshly-baked lavender scones in the Kitchen Restaurant.

The Alnwick Garden, Alnwick, Northumberland

Whatever the season, there is always something to admire at the Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland. See the majestic Cherry Orchard, planted with over 300 Tai Haku cherry trees, bloom into a blanket of white in the spring; walk through pathways covered by over 3,000 vibrant roses during the summer months; take a stroll through the Woodland Walk in the autumn among the towering trees to view a variety of sculpture exhibitions; and in winter, rediscover your inner child as you walk along the wobbly rope bridges to the treetop restaurant in the Treehouse, where you can warm your cockles by the roaring log fire while enjoying delicious locally-produced food.

Penshurst Place in Kent Penshurst Place in Kent

Penshurst Place and Gardens, Tonbridge, Kent

Considered to be one of England’s most beautiful gardens, Penshurst Place and Gardens in Kent is a complete visual treat. Pay a visit to Lime Walk in the autumn and you’ll be blown away by the sight of red and brown leaves falling from the trees; see the patriotic Union Flag Garden made up of 2,000 roses and lavender plants; and in the summer, bring along some tasty food and enjoy a picnic beside the lake at Lake Park. Whatever parts of this 48-acre garden you decide to explore, be sure not to miss the striking 100 metre-long Peony Border in full bloom from June. 

Wrest Park, Luton, Bedfordshire

Considered a long-forgotten garden, Wrest Park in Luton has been bought back to life to make it a great day out for the whole family. This early-eighteenth-century garden is spread over 90 acres, and boasts stunning floral displays all year round. Enter the grand Conservatory filled with a host of eye-catching exotic plants; wander around the beautiful Rose Garden with roses that bloom almost continuously from early summer to late autumn; and let your thoughts drift away as you stroll along the Chinese Bridge admiring the breathtaking scenery.

The Peto Garden at Iford Manor, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

Near the Frome river in a steep-sided valley lies the idyllic Peto Garden at Iford Manor in Wiltshire. Its combination of architecture and vibrant flowers provides the perfect romantic setting for walking along footpaths hand in hand, while you lose yourself within the quiet, rural valleys. Visit during the summer to enjoy a delicious cream tea with freshly-baked scones, clotted cream and homemade jam in the tea garden, then stay later for intimate opera performances and jazz concerts at sunset.

Discover more quintessential English gardens

And check out our ever-growing list of gardens on Pinterest...

Katie Rowe

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