6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

National Trust places to visit in Kent

PUBLISHED: 14:24 16 January 2015 | UPDATED: 14:24 16 January 2015

View from the Elizabethan Tower looking west in June. A new project aims to reconnect the garden at Sissinghurst with the surrounding farm landscape, by creating a vegetable garden to supply the restaurant with organic produce and re-establishing the farmland as a mixed Wealden farm, such as would have existed in 1930 when the property was bought by Vita sackville-West and Harold Nicolson.

View from the Elizabethan Tower looking west in June. A new project aims to reconnect the garden at Sissinghurst with the surrounding farm landscape, by creating a vegetable garden to supply the restaurant with organic produce and re-establishing the farmland as a mixed Wealden farm, such as would have existed in 1930 when the property was bought by Vita sackville-West and Harold Nicolson.

©National Trust Images/Penny Tweedie

As winter begins to give way to spring, it's time to plan in a visit to some of the collection of beautiful gardens under the National Trust's care

Sissinghurst Castle Garden near Cranbrook is one of Kent’s most famous gardens, known internationally for its ambitious planting schemes and variety of plants and flowers. Now is the perfect time to shake off winter hibernation and explore its many early spring delights.

Winter conservation

The garden at Sissinghurst was created 
by the poet and writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson, in the 1930s with abundant, colourful planting that evoked the romance of her writing.

At its floral best in early summer, in spring the garden reveals some of the design and planning lovingly created by the couple. The National Trust takes the opportunity to carry out vital conservation work in these colder seasons, but special guided tours are running every weekend until 8 March, hourly between 11am and 3pm. Visitors will be able to see behind the scenes: what the gardeners do to prepare the famous garden rooms for their spring and summer flower spectacle, as well as learn about the history of the gardens and see some of the most picturesque views.

Outside the formal gardens, the landscape itself played a crucial role in Vita and Harold’s vision – a relaxed, natural and plentiful backdrop. The ancient woodland is full of snowdrops, wood anemones and early primroses starting to make their first spring appearances. The deciduous trees, still bare of their leaves, create unusual shapes against the sky, making the wider estate the perfect place for a winter walk.

For those who want to hear more, head gardener Troy Scot-Smith will be leading a garden day on 18 February. Visitors can ask questions about the history of the garden and how this special place is maintained. There’s also the chance to pick up useful gardening skills and seasonal top tips.

For instance, February is the month to divide and plant snowdrop bulbs, prepare vegetable seed beds and prune hedges and climbers, such as wisteria. February is a good time to plant bulbs such as anemones or freesias, for flowering later in the year.

Get the family involved

February also means children’s half-term holidays and a break from the classroom. Sissinghurst Castle Garden has devised a series of green-fingered fun activities for children to enjoy over half-term week.

Why not plant snowdrops on 14 February from 10am to 3pm opposite the Old Dairy, or on 18 and 19 February help support local bird life at home by making a nest box or bird feeder to hang in your own garden (booking essential for the nest box activity, call 0844 249 1895; tickets £6 per person).

Children might also enjoy a half-term walk in the wider estate, identifying wildlife or laying and following a woodland trail. n

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 16:21

Drink in the sight and smell of our native blooms on one of these wonderful wildflower walks

Read more

Wherever you go in Kent you'll find people just like us pounding the streets, parks and waterways. So why are we all running?

Read more
May 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

Read more
April 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kent has many villages that exude historical charm and a traditional village atmosphere beloved by locals and visitors. Here we pick 10 of the prettiest to explore

Read more
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Whether it's a castle, stately country manor house or seafront hotel, Kent has the perfect venue

Read more
May 2019

Close neighbours, one ancient, one modern - meet the very different West Kent neighbours

Read more
May 2019

With its quirky shops, Norman castle, ancient cathedral and riverside setting, even Charles Dickens would agree it doesn't get much better than historic Rochester

Read more
Monday, April 29, 2019

Kent is not only home to many stunning beaches but also has some of the safest and cleanest in the country, many with prestigious Blue Flag status

Read more

From a gentle stroll to admire the flowers to expert-led walks, there's something for every May garden fan to enjoy

Read more
May 2019

Margate has one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it's been packing in the day-trippers for centuries and now boasts added cultural regeneration

Read more
May 2019

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life