25 of Kent's most beautiful gardens to visit
PUBLISHED: 14:43 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:27 11 April 2019
Kent has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit and throughout the open garden season you’ll find an array of stunning choices. Here’s a selection of our favourites
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. A tranquil haven to discover.
Balmoral Cottage, Benenden TN17 4DL
Open through the National Gardens Scheme. 7 April, 5 May, 22 and 29 Sept (12pm-6pm). Admission £6, child £2.50
Large formal lawns, fine trees, a pinetum, borders and roses out from an elegant 18th-century house. Of particular note is the walled kitchen garden restored in 2000 to a design by Arabella Lennox Boyd that has hop arbours, pleached fruit over arches, vegetables, flower borders and a large glasshouse.
Belmont House, Throwley, Faversham ME13 0HH. Open through the year (10am to dusk). Tearoom April to Sept
Seven-acre partly terraced garden, stretching down a south-facing slope, with lovely 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: 28 April (2pm-6pm). Admission £7.50, child free, home-made teas.
4. Boundes End
An unusual one-third acre plot formed from two triangles of land has been transformed into a garden of formal and informal areas. There are raised beds, a terrace with massed containers, pebble beds, pergolas adding height and a woodland section. Seating is placed throughout to encourage taking time to enjoy the space and the home-made teas.
Boundes End, Bidborough TN4 0XB. NGS: open by arrangement June to end August. Admission £3, child free
Ten-acre atmospheric landscaped garden and parkland in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Formal areas by the house including a floriferous sunken garden that changes with the seasons, a recently renovated Edwardian rock garden and woodland planted from the 1960s.
Doddington Place, nr Sittingbourne ME9 0BB. NGS: 19 May, 3 July, 8 Sept (11am-5pm). Admission £8, child £2, home-made teas. www.ngs.org.uk
Flowing borders, old roses, peonies, a ruin with a framework of hedging, meadows, woodland and an atmospheric kitchen garden with cut flowers and produce, set over four acres, devised and cared for by the same family for 160 years. Lovely views and farmland with lambs complete the experience of this lovely garden.
Falconhurst, Markbeech TN8 5NR. NGS: 27 May, 16 June, 1 Sept (1.30pm-5pm). Also open by arrangement May to 31 Oct. Admission £5, child free, home-made teas
Traditional and unexpected contemporary gardens areas around a characterful clothier’s hall that is more than 500 years old. Five acres, laid out in the 1920s has been re-designed since 1992 to combine a range of planting schemes – from roses and perennials to grasses and meadows. A finalist in the Kent Life 2018 Garden Awards, so one not to miss
Goddards Green, Cranbrook TN17 3LR. NGS: 7 July (12.30pm-4.30pm), home-made teas. Also open by arrangement May to 30 Sept. Admission £5, child free
An ancient estate with 12 acres of gardens that include terraced lawns, herbaceous borders, an Italian garden, lily pond and a walled garden with a collection of delphiniums and cut flowers as well as vegetable beds. In March and April the wild garden is a mass of daffodils and other spring blooms, while in June the delphiniums star and late season is colourful with dahlias among the vegetables.
Godinton House and Gardens, Ashford TN23 3BP. Daily 1 Mar – 1 Nov (1pm-6pm). Delphinium Festival week, 14-23 June. Garden only £5, House and Garden £10, child free
Has strong connections with Jane Austen, who was a regular guest and wrote Pride and Prejudice immediately after staying there 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-Sept, Sun, Tue, Wed, Thur, BHM (11am-5pm). Admission £7, child £2
10. Great Comp
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). Admission £8.50, child £3
11. Hever Castle
Magnificent, 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. Main season, daily, 31 Mar-26 Oct (10.30am-6pm). Admission Castle and Gardens £17.75, child £9.95
12. Hole Park
Fifteen acres of garden, surrounded by parkland and lovely views. Yew hedges separate and frame areas with mixed borders, pools, lawns and specimen trees. Glorious woodland walks, carpeted with bluebells in spring and stunning foliage colour in autumn. Something of interest all season. Newly renovated long border.
Hole Park, Rolvenden TN17 4JB. 30 Mar to 8 Jun daily, bluebells late Apr/early May; 12 June-31 Oct, Wed and Thur; 6, 13, 20, 27 Oct (all 11am-6pm). Admission £7.50, child £1
13. Knowle Hill Farm
Set on a slope with far-reaching views to the Weald of Kent this beautiful two-acre garden has been created over 35 years. There are deep, densely planted borders in orchestrated colour themes, Mediterranean and tender plants, a pool and rill enclosed in a small white garden, ribbons of lavender buzzing with bees, a walled garden, evolving topiary and a themed green garden is nearly complete.
Knowle Hill Farm, Ulcombe ME17 1ES. NGS: 23 June (2pm-5pm). Admission £5, child free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement Feb to 30 Sept
14. 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)
Home to our Kent Life Garden Award’s Head Judge, the celebrated garden designer, nursery owner and author Roger Platts. Late-season billowing borders, a wildflower meadow with mown paths, vegetable plot and shady woodland area, will all inspire.
Leydens, Edenbridge TN8 5NH. NGS: 23 June (12pm-5pm). Admission £5, child free, home-made teas. www.rogerplatts.com
16. Long Meadow
Here you’ll find a contemporary take on cottage planting designed by Nic Howard and lovingly cared for by owners Jo and Ian Peel. The view across shimmering grasses and perennials to fields beyond is absolutely captivating, so allow time to sit out on the terrace and take in the atmosphere.
Long Meadow, Chiddingstone TN8 7BQ. NGS: 26 Aug (11am-4.30pm). Admission £4, child free, home-made teas
17. The Mount
A worthy finalist in the Kent Life 2018 Garden Awards, this is an evolving two-acre garden created and maintained by enthusiastic owners Susie Challen and Marc Beney. Enjoy the beautiful walled kitchen garden with climbing roses and herbaceous borders adding colour to the array of produce, from veg and fruit to a mature walnut tree to sit under. Other inspirations include a yellow and white terrace garden and a mown labyrinth, and there are wide ranging views across the countryside.
The Mount, Wainscott, Rochester. ME3 8BL. NGS: 13, 14 July (12pm-4pm). Admission £5, child free, home-made teas
A large plantsman’s garden around an atmospheric 13th-century manor house reflected in a sunken pond garden. Stroll through effervescent herbaceous planting and towering grasses in island beds, a large formal rose garden, a young pinetum, a maze of Thuja and an acer lawn, as well as enjoying lovely country vistas.
Nettlestead Place, Nettlestead ME18 5HA. NGS: 9 June, 6 Oct (2pm-5pm). Admission £6, child free, home-made teas
19. Orchard House
This is a relatively new plantswoman’s garden, with a lovely potager of cut flowers and 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. Tropical style planting with a breeze house added in 2018.
Orchard House, Marden TN12 9PJ. NGS: 26 May, 4 Aug (11am-4pm). Admission £5, child free, home-made teas
20. Penshurst Place
An historic gem that dates back to the 14th century. Open from spring to autumn with highlights in every season – from bluebells and tulips, through the superb peony border, irises, roses and lavender, to late-season borders.
Penshurst Place, Penshurst TN11 8DG. Daily April to 27 Oct (10.30am to dusk). House, Gardens and Grounds. Admission £12, child £6.50, RHS partner garden
21. 43 The Ridings
Winner of the Kent Life 2018 Garden Awards, this is a delightful small garden created by passionate gardeners David and Sylvie Buat-Menard, which is sure to inspire many home gardeners. Ideas for micro-climate areas formed by layering planting and choosing the right plant for the right place, from a dry gravel garden, raised beds for alpines to lovely perennials and shrubs.
43 The Ridings, Chestfield CT5 3QE. NGS: 9, 15 June (10am-5pm). Admission £4, child free. Also open by arrangement April to Sept 30
Home to the Rogers family since 1840, this woodland garden is glorious in spring with carpets of bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons. Later roses take centre stage and areas of new planting. There is also a modern landscape style water garden and for the children adventure areas that include den building – and look out for a yeti!
Riverhill Himalayan Garden, Sevenoaks TN15 0RR. 22 Mar to 27 Oct, Wed-Sun and BHM (10.30am-5pm). Admission £9, child £6.50
23. The Salutation
Behind tall sheltering walls, the gardens, originally created by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll and resurrected again to great beauty, are an oasis of serenity with a quintessentially English feel. Considered justifiably one of Kent’s finest gardens with mirror borders, tropical planting, a white garden and potager to enjoy. Hold the largest collection of dark-leaved dahlias in the UK and the national collection of plectranthus.
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich CT13 9EW. Daily (10am-5pm) Admission £8.50. www.the-secretgardens.co.uk
24. Scotney Castle
A fairytale timelessness pervades the picturesque gardens and moated castle, especially if there is mist rising from the water at your visit, adding further to the sense of entering a romantic landscape painting. Spring sees reflections of brilliant colour from azaleas and rhododendrons, roses and wisteria drape the ancient walls and the meadows are alive with flowers and insects in summer, while in autumn the tones are more mellow.
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst TN3 8JN. Daily (10am-4pm), Admission £15.65, child £7.85, NT members free
The ever-enthusiastic modern-day plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke continues to develop his World Garden at his home Lullingstone Castle, with its collections from across the globe, of some 8,000 plant species, cultivars and hybrids. New this year, from the May Bank Holiday, is the ‘hot n juicy’ hot house, which will be showcasing a diverse collection of cacti and succulents. Keep an eye on the website for special events through the year, such as the rather eccentric but oh so delightful Plant Hunters Weekend in August when Tom ropes in his friends to join him in playing a range of historic characters.
The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford DA4 0JA. 5 Apr to 27 Oct, Fri, Sat, Sun, BHM (12pm-5pm) and Sun in Oct. Admission £9, child £4.50