Britain is home to many gardens available to the public, and we’ve compiled a list of ten of our best for your next day trip or vacation. These UK gardens invite you to experience their brilliant flower and plant displays, get inspired for your own outdoor area, or just soak in the environment for enjoyment.
With lots of beauty and character, these magnificent gardens in the UK include spectacular ‘outdoor rooms,’ walled gardens, landscaped gardens, and more. We’re searching for outdoor destinations to visit now more than ever, and the UK’s gardens provide the ideal post-lockdown getaway.
While tickets to National Trust estates were small in number during the epidemic, many of the Trust’s properties no longer need advance booking, and visitors now enjoy easy access to some of the most beautiful gardens in the country, whether they are held by the Trust or privately.
Here are ten of the best gardens in the United Kingdom that are worth seeing on a day trip or staycation.
1. Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, one of the most renowned English gardens, is a delight to visit. Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, who arrived here in 1930, entirely converted the gardens from an area for growing vegetables for farm labourers to a collection of ‘rooms’ filled with a variety of planting ideas.
Two of the garden’s highlights are the vivid and brilliant Cottage Garden with its vibrant colours and the White Garden, which has inspired innumerable imitations. Additionally, you’ll want to check out the South Cottage garden’s bright reds and yellows.
On a mini break in Kent, stay at a local cottage, hotel, or tavern with rooms to make the most of Sissinghurst’s tranquil surroundings.
2. Mottisfont, Hampshire
The gardens of this picturesque eighteenth-century mansion have carpets of spring tulips, a lovely walled rose garden, vibrant fall foliage, and a dazzling winter garden. Mottisfont is a sensory delight throughout the year, and the world-famous collection of old-fashioned roses blooms just once a year in June, making this a wonderful time to visit.
A terrific spot for families, there is lots of room to run and bounce. The walled garden’s herbaceous borders highlight an abundance of floral plants, while the expansive grassy lawns and tree-lined river path give enough shade on bright days.
Stay in a cosy home less than a ten-minute drive away in a calm rural setting, such as this cosy barn for four people in Stockbridge. It’s bright and airy, and during the cooler months, you can cosy up to the wood stove.
3. Mount Stewart, County Down
This neo-classical garden is regarded as one of the world’s finest and is one of a kind, being one of the few late compartmentalised Arts and Crafts-style gardens.
Mount Stewart is a very personal garden created by Edith, Lady Londonderry in the early twentieth century. The strong aesthetic concept mixed with an unmatched plant collection creates one of the most magnificent sites to visit in Northern Ireland.
Stay at the Culloden Estate & Spa, which overlooks Belfast Lough and is just a 25-minute drive from Mount Stewart. The hotel contains historical details such as antique furniture, paintings, and chandeliers for a comfortable, homey, and rustic stay.
4. Hidcote, Gloucestershire
This Arts and Crafts-inspired garden in the Cotswolds has elaborately designed outdoor areas. Hidcote’s magnificent garden was designed by renowned American horticulture Major Lawrence Johnston and is known for its vibrant outdoor ‘rooms’ that are brimming with surprises.
A must-see if you’re staying in the Cotswolds, you’ll appreciate the labyrinth of small cobblestone roads and hidden gardens brimming with vibrant plants. Numerous plants that flourish here were acquired during Johnston’s plant hunting expeditions to far-flung locations. It’s the ideal location to visit for gardening ideas. Green woodpeckers and the rare hummingbird moth are two species to keep an eye out for.
Join Christine Walkden, gardening expert for Country Living and The One Show, on a special visit to Hidcote in September 2021 to pick up gardening ideas and discover all about the plants that flourish here.
5. Wentworth Castle Gardens, South Yorkshire
Wentworth Castle Gardens, once touted as ‘the best garden in England,’ is South Yorkshire’s sole Grade I classified landscape. The original gardens, designed in the early 18th century by Thomas Wentworth, used geometric designs.
One surviving example is the remarkable Union Jack Gardens, which are built out in such a way that when seen from above, they incorporate the crosses of St George and St Andrew to commemorate Scotland’s and England’s union. During your visit, be sure to check out the Victorian Flower Garden and the conservatory’s rare and exotic plants.
Check into a mediaeval stone cottage in the town of Wortley, around ten minutes away. This romantic vacation rental for two persons is located in a remote and serene area with just sheep and cows as neighbours.
6. Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isle of Scilly
Tresco Abbey Gardens is the perfect reason to visit the lovely Isles of Scilly. The garden, a floral haven that you are certain to fall in love with, was established around the remains of a Benedictine priory.
You’ll discover 20,000 plant species gathered from as far away as New Zealand, South Africa, and South America. Additionally, it is home to the Valhalla Museum, which houses a collection of figureheads discovered on shipwrecks around the islands. Tresco Abbey Gardens is also an excellent location for seeing uncommon red squirrels.
Join Country Living on a trip to the Isles of Scilly led by expert guide Will Wagstaff, who is intimately familiar with the islands. During the five-day holiday in September 2021 or April 2022, you’ll visit Tresco Abbey Gardens.
7. Powis Castle, Powys
Powis Castle’s world-class gardens are steeped in history, dating back 300 years. You may meander along the Italianate terraces carved from solid rock, marvelling at the magnificent yew hedges, dancing sculptures, and beautiful flowery borders.
From the excellent hilltop location, you can view for miles around the Mid Wales landscape as it changes with the seasons. Marvel at the explosion of colour in the herbaceous borders, cool down with a shady forest stroll, or enjoy a peaceful day in the Fountain Garden.
Offa’s Dyke View is a grade II listed vacation home located only ten minutes from Powis Castle. It is ideal for a party of family or friends, with one dog. While it’s a great site to stay near Powis Castle, you’ll want to go out and explore the magnificent environs on foot or by bicycle.
8. Anglesey Abbey located in Cambridgeshire
Lord Fairhaven sought to create something that would inspire and astonish his visitors when he designed his garden at Anglesey Abbey. centred on his particular preferences and his usual practise of entertaining visitors, with something new to show them each season.
Today, the gardens continue to follow the same seasonal rhythm, with various sections of the 114-acre property taking their turn in the limelight before making way for the next. The lovely Dahlia Garden, the spectacular Formal Garden, and the charming Wildflower Meadow are just some of the features of this magnificent garden in Cambridgeshire.
Book a stay at the quaint and elegant vacation home Wheelwrights in the charming town of Lode, only a short walk from Anglesey Abbey. The two-bedroom home has a vaulted ceiling, stone floors, and thoughtful elements such as motion-activated lighting.
9. Arundel Castle, West Sussex
Arundel Castle is the place to visit if you’re seeking for a garden that will genuinely amaze you. It is home to a diverse range of landscapes and habitats, from the eccentric Stumpery to the formal Collector Earl’s garden and the cosy Glasshouses.
You’ll be taken aback by the bursts of colour, subtle smells, and structural patterns found here. Immerse yourself in the rose garden’s scent and the Fitzalan Chapel’s White Garden’s tranquillity.
Discover the magnificent garden of Arundel Castle on a mini-break near Arundel, where you may stay in a hotel, apartment, or quaint holiday home.
10. The Royal Gardens at Highgrove, Gloucestershire
Since 1980, when Prince Charles purchased the property, he has rebuilt the garden at Highgrove, taking on a new project each year. He encircled the home with fragrant wisteria, honeysuckle, jasmine, and thyme with the assistance of his friend Lady Salisbury.
Additionally, the king established an experimental wildflower field comprised of around 32 types of endangered indigenous plants, including yellow rattle and common spotted orchid.
Explore Highgrove’s magnificent gardens during a visit to Prince Charles’ private home in September 2021 as part of Country Living’s exclusive tour of the Cotswolds with TV’s Christine Walkden.