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The Best Gardens to Visit in the UK

The Best Gardens to Visit in the UK

Gardens are inspiring and magical. Spend a few hours in the midst of nature and you will find that it has calmed your mind and delighted your senses.

The UK has some of the finest gardens in the world and so on our travels, I actively seek out the best gardens in the region we are visiting. If you are a garden lover too, here is a list of some of the best gardens in the UK compiled from my personal experiences and based on suggestions from fellow bloggers. I hope the list inspires your next trip!

I will be adding to this list regularly, so make sure you bookmark it and check back again.

Let me begin with some of my favourites.

*This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more information.

Stourhead Gardens, Wiltshire

Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire

First on my list is Stourhead Garden which is an excellent example of English landscape gardening and perhaps one of the greatest landscape gardens in the world. With a large lake as the focal point, hills in the background, classic architecture and a range of trees and shrubs, Stourhead is like a living piece of art. There are a number of beautiful garden features and installations at Stourhead - the Pantheon, the Temple of Flora, the Palladian Bridge, the Temple of Apollo etc. all of which complement the fabulous collections of trees and shrubs in the garden. The garden is beautiful to visit in any season, but my favourite season to visit Stourhead is Autumn when the gardens put on a stunning display of autumnal colours.

Located near Mere in Wiltshire, Stourhead is managed by National Trust and is open all year round.

The Elizabethan Gardens at Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth

Elizabethan Gardens at Kenilworth Castle

Elizabethan Gardens at Kenilworth Castle

The Elizabethan Gardens at Kenilworth Castle were originally created for Queen Elizabeth I by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. With passage of time, the garden was neglected and it was lost to the world for nearly 400 years. It was only in 2009 that the garden was restored and recreated making it one of the key attractions at the Kenilworth Castle ruins. Today, it has regained its original style and glory and is a must visit for all garden lovers. As you wander along the pathways in the garden, you will notice a restored aviary, a lovely marble fountain, fragrant and colourful foliage and the Earl of Leicester's emblem - the bear and ragged staff. Everything has been wonderfully recreated and maintained well.

Combine it with a visit to the castle ruins and it makes for a great day out with family/friends.

To check opening times and current admission prices visit www.english-heritage.org.uk



The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St.Austell


Another garden that was brought back to its formal glory after years of obscurity is the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Pentewan, Cornwall. The Heligan Estate where the gardens are located is owned by the Tremayne family. They have been the owners of the estate for more than 400 years. During World War One much of the estate's workforce went off to fight in the war and thus began the neglect of the estate. Along with years of neglect, the devastating hurricane of 1990 was also one of the reasons the gardens were 'almost' lost. However, in 1990s the restoration began and after years, the gardens were restored back to their original glory.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are unique and diverse. In addition to the popular Heligan sculptures - The Giant’s Head, Mud Maid and Grey Lady, some of the other important features in the garden are the historic glasshouses, the Melon Yard with its Pineapple Pit, the Thunderbox Room, the Productive Gardens (with over 300 varieties of mostly heritage fruit, vegetable, salad, and herbs) and the Pleasure Gardens (which includes the Northern Summerhouse, Flora's Green and the Italian and Sundial Gardens).

All the gardens are beautifully maintained and reflect the style of the 19th-century. Another beautiful part of the gardens is the 'Jungle', which is said to be Cornwall’s only outdoor jungle garden and home to one of the longest Burmese rope bridges in Britain. In this part of the garden you will find a number of exotic plants and stunning trees.

With an incredible 200 acres of gardens, this is one of the most unique and fascinating places to visit in Cornwall. Don't miss it if you are in the vicinity.

The Gardens at St Michael's Mount, Marazion

The Gardens at St Michael's Mount

The Gardens at St Michael's Mount

This is another 'not-to-be-missed' gem in Cornwall. St Michael’s Mount is a small, rocky tidal island that is the setting for a medieval castle. Due to its location, the island always faces gales and salty winds and thus many visitors assume that it is not conducive for gardening. But it is the other way round - the island's unique location has created a micro climate where all kinds of tropical plants grow and flourish. The garden is unusual with winding pathways along stone terraces and as you make your way around being astounded by the scenic beauty, you will also be spellbound by the variety of plants growing there. From Fountaingrasses to Gazanias, from Carpet bugleweed to Leucadendron (conebushes) and from lilies to a multitude of succulents, the gardens at St Michael's Mount are unique and fascinating.

The gardens combined with the castle make for a super day out for the entire family.

The Gardens at Packwood House, Lapworth

The Gardens at Packwood House

The Gardens at Packwood House

Packwood House, a National Trust property in Lapworth, is as popular for its gardens as it is for the timber-framed Tudor house that house some really wonderful tapestries and furniture. The Grade II listed gardens at Packwood House are sure to delight visitors of all ages. The Yew Garden at Packwood is said to be the one of the largest collections of yew trees in the world. Also equally interesting and lovely were the Memorial Orchard (with pear, apple, plum, cherry and many other fruting trees), the Raised Terrrace and the Kitchen Garden (with neatly planted rows of vegetables and fruits).

The garden is normally open all year and is not to be missed if you are visiting Warwickshire.

Let's now check some of the favourites of my fellow bloggers.

Hidcote Manor Garden, Chipping Campden

Hidcote Manor Garden
Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Europe

One of my favourite gardens in the UK is Hidcote Manor Garden near Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. The garden was started in 1907 by an American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston. He designed various garden ‘rooms’ over many years on farmland on his mother’s property, Hidcote Manor.

Hidcote Manor Garden is regarded as one of the best examples of an Arts and Craft garden in the UK, and many of the plants were collected by Johnston on his travels abroad. Entry to Hidcote Manor Garden is reached via the original farmhouse which dates back to the 17 th Century and now serves as a ticket office and gift shop. Beyond the entrance, various garden rooms, all with a different style and character, await you.

As well as colourful herbaceous borders, formal hedges and topiary and a kitchen garden, Hidcote Manor also features it’s own stream with azalea and rhododendrons planted alongside the banks, ponds and winding paths that lead you through archways.

I loved that there were plenty of places throughout the garden to sit and reflect and appreciate the beauty of nature and the hard work of the many gardeners who maintain the garden today. The garden also offers plenty of variety – whether you appreciate formal gardens or a more cottagey style, you can’t help but be impressed by what Lawrence Johnston has created.

Since 1948, Hidcote Manor Garden has been owned by the National Trust. It is open daily between 1 May and 30 September from 10am to 6pm with limited opening times from October to April. Hidcote Manor Garden is located at Hidcote Bartrim, about 5 miles from Chipping Campden.

Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, Cambridge

Cambridge University Botanic Gardens
Contributed by Chris of Explore Now or Never

With 8,000 plant species spread across 40 acres of an urban garden, Cambridge University Botanic Gardens is one of the largest university owned gardens worldwide. In fact, its collection of plants supports scientific university research into topics like climate change and food security. This academic tradition dates from before 1901 when, William Bateson carried out his genetic research here and then shared the new science of genetics with the world. Today, university studies cover an even wider spectrum, ranging from biophysics and computational biology to ecology and zoology. Architecture students at Cambridge study the landscape. Partnerships with other research institutions and collaborations with botanic gardens world make the garden home to a vital world of discovery.

Cambridge University Botanic Gardens

This huge garden is actually comprised of a patchwork of smaller gardens - everything from British wild plants and bee borders to Mediterranean beds and fern displays. Cambridge University Botanic Gardens are conveniently located in the heart of the city of Cambridge, making it a favourite spot for families and school field trips any time of year. To really explore the garden, consider one of the free 60 minute tours for seasonal highlights, on offer the first Sunday of each month and weekly in summer. For a sweet finale to your visit, consider a visit to the lovely Garden Cafe - located in the very heart of the garden— for a cup of tea and a quiet moment to admire the surrounds.

Highgrove Royal Gardens, Tetbury

Contributed by Nicole Young of Three Harmony

Highgrove is the private residence of Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall near Tetbury in the countryside of Gloucestershire.

Since 1980, Prince Charles (HRH) has lovingly restored the Estate and as an avid gardener himself who is passionate about organic farming, wildlife and the natural environment, especially climate change, has created a vibrant and sustainable landscape around the Georgian house implementing some very innovative techniques throughout the gardens.

For instance, the Estate runs on strict sustainable principles recycling all water and waste materials back into the garden in an elaborate but wholly natural two stage sewage system whereby it first passes through the Norfolk reed bed and then through the willow bed. There are also solar panels for heating, composting and natural fertilisers such as comfrey to make liquid plant food, all so that the garden itself is self-sufficient.

Highgrove features are:

- The Stumpery with its tranquillity, ferns, large leafed hostas, fountains and wooden temples.
- The Cottage Garden with a vibrant seasonal floral display and an oak summer house.
- The Sundial Garden with its stone sundial in the centre, box hedging, willow sculptures and a classic display of beautiful country florals.
- The Thyme Walk where there are around 20 varieties of thyme with flowers interspersed and topiary hedges.
- The Wildflower Meadow which stretches for four acres in front of the main house highlighting the seasons.



There is also a notable walled organic Kitchen Garden full of vegetables spanning half an acre – organic produce from the Estate is an internationally recognised brand. HRH shares Highgrove with the public because it gives him enormous pleasure and is likened to a piece of his own artwork that is on exhibition. You can see HRH’s personality shining through as the garden merges with art here, layering colour as you would on a blank canvas to create a painting.

It is important for HRH that the garden is in harmony with nature itself, which is so close to my heart in many ways as well - to live in tune with nature is really the very essence of a healthy life.

Rococo Garden, Painswick

Rococo Garden
Contributed by Claire of Weekend Candy

If you stumble across Titania, Queen of the Fairies, sleeping peacefully in Painswick’s Rococo Garden, don’t be surprised. For this is a garden that could easily have stepped out of the pages of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It’s a fanciful, theatrical place, created in the 1740s by Politian Benjamin Hyett – and not for his love of horticulture. Instead, the Rococo Garden was a show of flamboyance and wealth, as was quite the trend in the 1700s, acting almost as a playroom for Hyett’s guests during a sojourn to his main home: the attached manor house.

Today, the Rococo Garden is a playroom still. Ribboning paths lead you from one quirky feature to another, whilst fairy-tale garden houses watch shyly as you tip-toe through. You can visit all year round, except between Dec and Jan when the garden hibernates for the winter. But it is in early February that many people go to see the blanket of snowdrops that covers the hills, turning the place into the Cotswolds’ very own version of Narnia.

For me, the Rococo Garden is one of the best in the UK firstly because of its historical importance: it is the country’s sole surviving rococo garden. And secondly  because it is truly magical. You can lose yourself for hours amongst the flowers, woods, ponds, grottos and maze – then float gently back down to earth with coffee and cake at the cosy café just outside the garden walks. It’s a definite must-see for anyone visiting the Cotswolds.

Kew Gardens, London

Kew Gardens
Contributed by Joanna of The World in My Pocket

One of the most beautiful gardens London has to offer is Kew Gardens. Located in the South of the city very easy to access via the tube, Kew Gardens is a wonderful place to spend a day walking and admiring all the different plants, climate zones and glasshouses. Kew Gardens is huge and can’t be all seen in one day, this is why is necessary to plan your visit and consult the map of the park beforehand.

There are many fascinating attractions inside Kew Gardens. Some of my favourites were the Hive – a project that tries to replicate the inside of a beehive through both visual and audio experiences, the carnivore plant enclosure – especially when they are having their hourly “shower” and the treetop walkaway – an 18 meters high structure from where you can have beautiful views over the canopy.

What is special about Kew Gardens is that every season they have different exhibitions and displays, so there is always a reason to return. There are also a few coffee shops and tea houses where you can enjoy a light brunch. If you fancy, you can always bring your own food and find an area where you can have a picnic.

It’s fascinating how in Kew Gardens you can walk from one type of a climate to another, from a Japanese Garden to an oak forest, from a bamboo garden to a vegetable patch.

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, Hampshire

Exbury Gardens
Contributed by Jane of Explore the Great Ocean Road

We used to live on the edge of the New Forest and close to Exbury Gardens for 5 years; they were one of our favourite places to take the children when they were small. 200 acres of stunning gardens with beautiful autumn foliage as well as stunning spring displays of Rhododendrons. Exbury Gardens are world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs.

Every day they are open, kids can become an Exbury Garden Explorer and take part in our adventure trails, bug hunting and scavenger hunts. On the adventure trail, they have to look for mini-beasts, various different trees do bark rubbings, create wild art and finish the gardens word search. It is a free activity for all children, which is such a family-friendly initiative. For adults who would like to hear first-hand accounts of the garden history and different plants, they offer garden tours for individuals or groups. A 'buggy' is used for people with limited mobility, so everyone has the opportunity to see the displays. The gardens are also famous for a charming steam railway, taking visitors on a 20-minute journey through the property, something kids particularly enjoy and fun for adults too.

With so many paths to explore, a whole day is needed at Exbury, afterwards; finish off with some of the delicious food and afternoon teas in Mr Eddy's Tearooms.

Considered one of the finest woodland gardens in the country, Exbury Gardens appeal to professional gardeners as well as hobby gardeners and also people who just love beautiful spaces. Situated in Exbury close to the New Forest, the Gardens should be on everyone's must-see list. Visit the New Forest at the same time; maybe stay overnight as there is a lot to see.

The Gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent

The Gardens at Sissinghurst Castle
Contributed by Danielle of Live in 10 Countries

Who doesn't love a National Trust treasure? It's where you find the best activities, the prettiest views and the best plants.

Once home to Vita Sackville-West, this spot in Kent is pretty special. The drive from Brighton and the South Coast is around 1.5 hours and it's even closer to London. It isn't really a castle, but it's grand enough to get away with it. There's free parking on site and as you walk in you're faced with quirky farm buildings, pretty cafes with dainty scones and the walkway over to Vita's idyllic cottage.

You can also go up in her writer's tower, where you learn about her life and work within its solid stone walls. It's worth testing your knees with the walk up a spiral staircase that goes up at least 4 floors all the way to the top, because on the roof of the tower is the best place to take in her garden.

It's superb. There are proper apple trees like you'd expect in Kent, but also hidden walkways dotted with statues and bright blooming flowers. It's the most calming place you'll have seen in a while, and immaculately kept, too. You can easily spend a whole afternoon browsing and always finding something new to catch your attention.

Walk behind these well tended gardens and you can admire a more rustic farm garden where staff grow fresh produce and scarecrows fend off the birds.

Lambeth Palace Gardens, London

Lambeth Palace Gardens
Contributed by Katy of Untold Morsels

One of the most beautiful gardens in London is found just across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament at Lambeth Palace. Home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the palace dates back to the 12th century and its gardens are among the oldest in England.

You enter the historic gardens through a huge Tudor gateway and from there can explore several outdoor rooms. A large open green is surrounded by ancient oak trees and small sculptures and statues can be found among the shrubbery. Typically English in design, the gardens cover over 10 acres and feature mainly native plant species.  During spring and summer the garden’s rose bushes, lavender and sweet pea are in full bloom.

Take a seat on one of the many benches throughout the gardens. If you’re facing the river you can see the towers of Westminster Palace rising up among the trees.

Lambeth Palace Gardens are open to the public on the first Friday of the month, from April through to September, 12pm-3pm. The £5 entry fee is donated to charity.

If you are interested in the history of gardening you should visit the Garden Museum next door to Lambeth Palace. The museum explores and celebrates British gardens and gardening.

London City Gardens

London City Gardens
Contributed by Ellie & Ravi of Soul Travel

Hidden within London’s square mile (the city’s financial capital) are some gardens that are almost a secret. The network of churchyards, gardens and parks are much-needed patches of green hidden in between London’s upwardly growing skyline that afford a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the capital. They are also something of a lung for the city. From rose gardens surrounding St Paul’s Cathedral, to the sites of churches burned down in the great fire of London (1666), to walled gardens, to the lawns surrounding the Tower of London, the city is home to many more green spaces than initially meets the eye. Most gardens are open to the public on a regular basis, and are as attractive to history buffs as to the casual wanderer who wants to see a bit of the “real” London.

Run and maintained by the city of London, a map is available showing all of the different gardens that can be explored, and there are also regular guided walks that take place. We visited St Mary’s Secret Garden in the city which has been set up with a focus on enhancing the natural wellbeing of its visitors: by using nature as therapy. The garden is registered as a charity and they do ongoing work to help rehabilitate adults with learning difficulties and disabilities through therapeutic gardening and horticultural programmes: Their mission is wellbeing through gardening.

The Gardens at Hever Castle


Hever Castle is located in Kent. With a 13th-century castle and award-winning gardens set in 125 acres of beautiful grounds, the castle and gardens have something for all ages to enjoy.

The gardens at Hever Castle are very impressive. My favourite was the Italian Garden - on one side there was the Pompeiian Wall which had small bays that housed stone and marble sculptures while on the other side was the Pergola Walk with grottoes that had ferns and other shade loving plants. At the end is the Loggia with a lovely 'Trevi Fountain' inspired sculpture and fountain.

The Rose Garden is also very lovely with more than 4,000 roses in shades of red, yellow, orange and pink. Also on the estate, is a Tudor Garden which is made up of a number of small, sheltered gardens like the Fountain Garden, the Herb Garden and the Chess Garden which has golden yew cut into chess pieces. You can easily spend the whole day exploring the gardens and the small castle.

Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent


I had a lot of fun compiling this post. I hope you guys enjoy it! And don't forget to comment below and let me know which, according to you, is the best garden in the UK!


Best Gardens in the UK


17 comments:

  1. The Stourhead gardens look stunning! Another one to add to our list when back in the UK along with some more of these - thanks for putting this post together! :-)

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    1. The whole estate is incredible and the garden is wonderful through the seasons. It is said to be one of NT's most popular and most visited properties.

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  2. What a beautiful post. We are lucky to have so many lovely places to visit.

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    1. Thank you. And yes, there are so many beautiful gardens in the country. I will be adding more gardens to this list gradually.

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  3. I love visiting gardens both at home and on my travels. It is a nice way to spend time in nature, while getting to explore a new place. All the gardens look beautiful, but the gardens at St Michael's Mount appeal to me in particular. I like the idea of wandering around on the winding paths with the castle in the background.

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    1. Agree. The gardens at St Michael's Mount have a stunning setting. One can easily while away hours here.

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  4. What a wonderful list! Gardens are always perfect get-away when you're starting to burn out from the city. I always make sure I check them out when I go exploring new cities. With your list I feel like you can explore England just by going to gardens! (Forget London, haha!)

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    1. Yes, England is one of the most garden-loving countries in the world! So many beautiful gardens to explore.

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  5. I love looking at lush gardens like this. The UK has been on my bucket list for years!

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  6. What a great idea and a lovely round-up of gardens to visit in the UK. I've lived in London for 14 years and never realised you could visit Lambeth Palace! Now I'm definitely going to check it out.

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  7. I didnt know before that gardens are a must-see places to visit until I saw few of them in the UK. You have listed the best of the gardens in the UK. I am flabbergasted to see them and I do not know which one is better than the other. But if I were asked, I would choose The Lost Gardens.

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  8. What a great list of places to visit in UK. I recently stayed in Dorset for a month, wanted to visit the Stourhead. When I did visit, it was shut for the day :(. Perhaps next time I might get lucky in covering these places.

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    1. Stourhead is very beautiful. Do visit it when you next get the chance.

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  9. The way the british keep their park, the cure, cleanses and the bright colors. It is amazing, I have never seen such great passion for it.

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    1. Agree, the country's passion for parks and gardens is huge. Most of them love visiting gardens, talking about gardens and watching gardening programmes on TV :)

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  10. I would add Blenheim to the list. The gardens there are lovely.

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    1. Yes, the gardens at Blenheim are lovely. Will be adding it to the list. Keep checking this page as it will be continously updated with new entries :)

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