25 of the prettiest gardens to visit in Kent
PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:54 10 April 2017
Kent has a wealth of glorious gardens and here we select some of the very best to visit this seasons
1. Balmoral Cottage
Whimsical, artistic and magical goes only part way to describe the atmospheric garden created by Charlotte Molesworth. With topiary atop way hedging and a real plantwoman and artist’s palette of layered planting, the effect is totally charming. Planting is also chosen for wildlife, in particular nesting birds and small mammals. Balmoral Cottage, Benenden TN17 4DL
Open through the National Gardens Scheme, www.ngs.org.uk
Sun 14 May (11am-6pm)
Adm £6, child £2.50
Lovely seven-acre, partly terraced garden stretching down a south-facing slope, with fine views over neighbouring fields towards Tenterden. Superb carpets of bluebells and anemones in a mature woodland to stroll through. In the more formal areas the blue haze is echoed in plantings of silver and mauve, contrasted with emerging spring green foliages. A succession of interest is provided from bulbs, shrubs and herbaceous plants in broad vistas or more intimate vignettes.
Boldshaves, Woodchurch TN26 3RA
NGS: Sun 30 April, 10 Sept (2pm-6pm)
Adm £5, child free
3. Boundes End
A finalist in our 2016 Kent Life Garden Competition, Carole and Mike Marks have created a lovely garden on an unusual third of an acre plot formed from two triangles of land. There are formal and informal areas, terraced beds, collections of containers and lots of interesting features to enjoy. Seating is placed throughout, so allow time to sit and take in the scene.
Boundes End, Bidborough TN4 0XB
NGS: Wed 19 July, Adm £3, child free
Visits also by arrangement June to August, group 20 max.
4. One Brickwall Cottages
Dainty, colourful geums are the stars here with a National Collection of more than 100 of these vivacious blooms planted through the garden. Cottage-style planting and climbers jostle softly against weathered pergolas and the whole effect is of charming abundance. You can even buy some geums to take home for your own garden.
1 Brickwall Cottages, Frittenden TN17 2DH
NGS: Wed 10, Sun 21, Wed 31 May, Sun 4 June (2pm-5pm)
Adm £4.50, child free, home-made teas
Visitors also welcome by arrangement May and June, 30 max.
5. Doddington Place
This 10-acre, atmospheric, landscaped garden and parkland with open views has a woodland area with azaleas, rhododendrons and bluebells. Renovated Edwardian garden, fine trees, formal areas with clipped yew hedges, Gothic folly, a paved rose garden and mixed borders. Doddington Place, nr Sittingbourne ME9 0BB
NGS: Sun 7 May; Wed 7 June; Sun 17 Sept (11am-5pm)
Adm £6, child £2, home-made teas
Sun, Wed, Bank Holiday Mondays, 16 Apr-30 Sep (11am-5pm)
6. Godinton House and Gardens
Twelve acres of gardens surround this Jacobean house, redesigned in 1900 by Sir Reginald Bloomfield in his typical architectural style. Famous for its shaped yew hedge reflecting the roofline of the house, there are terraced lawns, herbaceous borders, a 1920s Italianate garden, rose garden, formal pond and a walled garden resplendent in summer with fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and a fabulous array of delphiniums.
Godinton House and Gardens, Ashford TN23 3BP
Daily 1 Mar-1 Nov (1pm-6pm)
Delphinium Festival week 23 June-2 July
Garden only £5, House and Garden £9, child free
7. Goodnestone Park Gardens
Jane Austen was a regular guest and wrote Pride and Prejudice immediately after staying here in 1796. Historic garden of around 14 acres around an 18th-century house, with woodland, panoramic views, a contemporary gravel garden and an extensive walled garden with densely planted borders, old-fashioned roses and productive areas. You can walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps along the newly-reinstated Serpentine Walk through the park.
Goodnestone Park Gardens, Wingham CT3 1PL
Apr-Sep, Sun (12pm-5pm), Tue, Wed, Thu, Bank Holiday Mondays (11am-5pm)
Adm £7, child £2
8. Great Comp Garden
A seven-acre landscaped and expertly planted garden and adjacent nursery. Paths and open lawns lead past a plantsman’s collection of shrubs, trees, heathers and herbaceous plants. Theatrical wall ‘ruins’ separate areas of more formal planting. The late season is particularly colourful, not just from foliage, but also with one of the country’s finest salvia collection, dahlias and other perennials.
Great Comp, Platt TN15 8QS
Daily 1 April-31 Oct (11am-5pm)
Adm £8, child £3
9. Hever Castle
Romantic gardens around a moated castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, blend history from different eras. Standing by the vast lake, with the mist rising, can transport you back in time. Also to admire are hundreds of roses, classical statuary, mazes, fountains, herbaceous borders, topiary, herbs and Italianate gardens.
Hever Castle and Gardens, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
12 Feb-24 Dec (10.30am-5pm), Apr-29 Oct (-6pm)
Adm Castle and Garden £16.90, child £9.50
10. Hole Park
Lovely views and attractive landscaped garden spread over 15 acres. The garden has been opening to visitors since 1927. Fine specimen trees dot sweeping lawns and there are walled and hedged gardens with mixed borders, carpets of bluebells in spring and stunning autumn colour, with lots of interest between from a wide range of shrubs, perennials and annuals.
Hole Park, Rolvenden TN17 4JB
1 Apr-10 Jun daily, bluebells late Apr/early May, 14 Jun-31 Oct Wed and Thu, Sun 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Oct (all 11am-6pm)
Adm £7, child £1
11. Knowle Hill Farm
Another past winner of our Kent Life Garden Competition, from 2012, this beautiful two-acre garden set on a slope enjoys far-reaching views to the Weald of Kent. Deep, densely planted borders in orchestrated colour themes, Mediterranean and tender plants, a walled garden, evolving topiary and a new green garden is nearly complete.
Knowle Hill Farm, Ulcombe ME17 1ES
NGS: Sun 6 Aug (2pm-6pm)
Adm £5, child free
Visitors also welcome by arrangement Feb-Sep
12. Leeds Castle
The gardens of Leeds Castle reflect the historic fabric of the architecture and traditions of the estate that has seen 900 years of heritage as it changed through the ages. Glorious gardens surround the impressive castle. Explore natural-style woodlands with large expanses of lawns, mature trees and carpets of bulbs, as well as a cottage garden and a Mediterranean terraced garden.
Leeds Castle, Maidstone ME17 1PL
All year round (10am-5pm)
The private garden of garden designer, nursery owner, author and Kent Life Garden Competition’s Head Judge Roger Platts is set adjacent to his home and nursery. The garden has a relaxed air with densely planted curving borders bursting with a broad range of shrubs and perennials. There is a wildflower hay meadow, a kitchen garden and late-summer flowering border.
Leydens, Edenbridge TN8 5NH
NGS: Sun 6 Aug (12pm-5pm)
Adm £4.50, child free
14. Mount Ephraim
Enjoy 10 acres of gardens with herbaceous borders, fanciful topiary, a millennium rose garden with arches and pergola, rock and water gardens, as well as a miz maze of grasses and perennials. A garden to stroll in while your children or grandchildren delight running in and out of the shimmering grasses dotted with colour in the maze. Superb vistas over fruit farms to Swale estuary.
Mount Ephraim, Hernhill ME13 9TX
Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun and Bank Holiday Mondays
1 Apr-1 Oct (11am-5pm)
Adm £7, child £2.50
15. Old Bladbean Stud
Romantic interlinking gardens created from scratch by owner Carol Bruce. Old-fashioned roses, colour-themed borders, vegetable beds and a striking formal garden with 300-foot long colour schemed symmetrically double borders dotted with painted obelisks. Managed as an ornamental eco-system, there is also an experimental self-sufficiency project which includes a wind turbine and solar panels.
Old Bladbean Stud, Bladbean CT4 6NA
NGS: Sun 28 May; 11, 25 Jun; 9, 23 Jul; 6, 20 Aug (2pm-6pm)
Adm £6, child free; cream teas
16. Orchard House
Although relatively new, having been developed over the past 11 years, this plantswoman’s garden is abundant with bloom and life. There is a lovely potager billowing with cut flowers and abundant with produce, herbaceous bee-friendly borders with clouds of cosmos, gaura and achilleas, and collections of containers on the patio. There’s also a delightful small nursery specialising in herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. Productive beehives and honey for sale.
Orchard House, Marden TN12 9PJ
NGS: Sun 21 May; 6 Aug (11am-4pm)
Adm £4.50, child free
17. Penshurst Place
Historic 10-acre garden dating back to the 14th century with more than a mile of clipped yew hedges dividing a series of garden rooms. From spring bulbs in profusion, followed by the famous peony border to the formal rose garden and herbaceous borders, there is a long season of interest to enjoy. Events throughout the season.
Penshurst Place, Penshurst TN11 8DG
Daily 1 Apr-29 Oct (10.30am-dusk)
House, gardens and grounds
Adm £11, child £6.50
18. Pheasant Farm
You could almost be in France at this atmospheric garden around a 17th-century farmhouse. A relaxed outdoor lifestyle, quirky decorative touches and an infinity lawn with views over Oare marshes and creek encourage a sense of relaxation. Herbaceous planting, massed lavender and shrubs, as well as a circular walk through an orchard and the adjoining churchyard are all delightful.
Pheasant Farm, Oare ME13 0QB
Sun 14 May, 11 Jun (2pm-5pm)
Adm £4, child free
Visitors also welcome by arrangement Apr-Jun, groups of 10 to 30
19. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
Home to the Rogers family since 1840, this hillside woodland garden with views across the Weald of Kent is glorious in spring with carpets of bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons. Later on roses take centre stage and the areas of new planting. There is also a modern water garden and for the children adventure areas that include den building and yeti spotting.
Riverhill Himalayan Garden, Sevenoaks TN15 0RR
Sat 18 Mar to Sun 10 Sep. Wed-Sun and Bank Holiday Mondays (10.30am-5pm)
Adm £8.25, child £5.95
20. Rock Cottage
This tranquil two-acre country garden has been created by the owners over the past 32 years with a range of garden rooms and areas. You will find quite an eclectic mix that includes a topiary garden, a Mediterranean garden, exotic planting, agave containers, veg and cut flowers, an orchard and a lime walk. Rambling roses and clematis adorn structures and there’s a surprises around every corner.
Rock Cottage, Bilsington TN25 7LA
Sat 3, Sun 4 Jun; Sat 9, Sun 10 Sep (10am-5pm)
Adm £5, child free
21. The Secret Gardens of Sandwich
The restored garden at The Salutation is hidden away behind high walls in this quaint town. The Lutyens and Jekyll gardens spread out from the Grade I-listed manor house and many original features have been carefully re-instated, such as the characteristic double borders with their changing ripples of colour. Other areas include woodland, productive gardens and a small lake. The aim is to revive the sense of heritage with a fusion of traditional and contemporary styles.
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich CT13 9EW
1 Apr-30 Sep (10am-5pm), 1 Oct 1-24 Dec (10am-4pm)
Adm £7, child free
22. Thatched Cottage
Make sure you visit our Kent Life Garden Competition winner from last year, with its picturesque garden around a pretty, chocolate-box cottage. Roses around the door, billowing flowers blending to grass and wildflower meadows, a natural pond complete with bridge and a veg patch, make for a romantic and quintessentially English garden to enjoy.
Thatched Cottage, Hever TN8 7NH
Sat 24, Sun 25 June (1pm-5pm)
Adm £5, child free
A lovely five-acre garden, stocked with unusual hardy plants and designed with Sue Robinson’s flower arranger’s eye. Of particular interest is the parterre, the colour combinations in the herbaceous borders, fruit lawns, fine mature trees, wildflower meadow and the 100-year old Kentish cobnut plat; all set off by a backdrop of far-reaching valley views.
Timbers, East Farleigh ME15 0HS
Visitors by arrangement Apr-Jul
Adm £5, child free
24. The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle
This inventive garden, consisting of a world map of plants, was conceived by intrepid plant hunter and enthusiast Tom Hart Dyke while kidnapped in the Panamanian jungle. Plants from different continents are displayed in raised beds, allowing the visitor to learn about the origins and care of both usual and many rare, important varieties – from tropical cannas or desert succulents to the ancient Wollemi Pine. “The oceans are your pathways as you navigate the world in one acre,” says Tom.
The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford DA4 0JA
Easter to end Sep, Fri, Sat, Sun, Bank Holiday Mondays (12pm-5pm), Sun in Oct
Adm £8, child £4
Serene and green, this peaceful garden has unusual topiary, relaxed plantings and panoramic views across Romney Marsh. Shaped hedges become frames to the vistas and separate the different areas. Roses adorn the picturesque cottage, clipped shapes edge paths and fanciful topiary provide focal points. There is also a rustic summerhouse by a small pond, entered through an arch of scrambling roses and a neatly planted vegetable garden
Wyckhurst, Aldington TN25 7AJ
Sat, Sun 3, 4 and 10, 11 Jun (12pm-6pm)
Adm £5, child free
Visitors also welcome by arrangement in June
Find out more
• More than 100 gardens in Kent are open through the National Gardens Scheme. Look out for the Kent brochure locally and visit www.ngs.org.uk
• For a range of village open garden weekends near you, visit www.opengardens.co.uk
Don’t forget - There is still time to enter your garden into the 2017 Kent Life Garden Competition