to Visit

The place to find inspiration for your own garden and learn more about plants and design is in other people’s gardens.

Thousands of gardens are open to the public throughout the country. Some are owned by public bodies like the National Trust or English Heritage, but most are privately owned and their creators welcome visitors. Often you can talk to the owner and discuss their garden and some of them have great plants for sale – real bargains, possibly unusual gems.

Garden visiting is immensely popular. It is said that more people visit gardens than football matches and Sunday afternoon is the favourite time to walk round someone else’s garden and then have some delicious cake for tea before taking your new ideas back to your own garden.

The Gardening Website would not be complete without a category devoted to the fabulous gardens throughout the UK. These are listed by county and by the nearest town etc. Each Garden will have a link map to easily locate it as well as an aerial map – where available and a link through to the Gardens own website for more detailed information.

Heart of Kent’s Top 10 best spring gardens

The Heart of Kent partnership celebrates 21 years in tourism this year. The group provides tourism advice through its annual holiday guides, website and the tourist information centres around the country and knows all the best places to enjoy when visiting for a day or longer period.

Spring is one of the most beautiful seasons and Kent has plenty to offer visitors including those who love to visit gardens.

The website has details of all the gardens and attractions to visit in the county which include some of the loveliest gardens at this time of year.

The captivating season of spring starts with primroses and daffodils before the bluebells and tulips take over and then the showy rhododendrons and azaleas of May and June take centre stage.

As well as at many of the National Trust Properties around the county such as Emmetts in Sevenoaks and Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst, some of the finest displays of bluebells can be found at Hole Park in Rolvenden.

Hole Park in Rolvenden has a fabulous display of bluebells every spring, and visitors return year after year to see the blue spectacle which has a new circular walk and disabled facilities. Although renowned for its bluebell spectacular, visitors can also enjoy a wealth of other spring flowers including camellia, magnolia, banks of pale blue scillas and primroses, standard wisteria, and an abundance of tulips. Hole Park’s spring colour has proved so popular that the opening of the garden has been extended to ensure that everyone can take full advantage of this enchanting season when the gardens are open daily. Dates: Wednesdays and Thursdays: 25 March – end October 2009. Sundays: 22 March – 28 June 2009 All: 2pm – 6pm. Spring and Bluebell Spectacular: Daily – Sun 12 April – Sunday 10 May 2009 – 11am – 6pm. Admission: Adults: £5 children: £0.50. Please visit for more dates and information.

Spectacular displays of daffodils can be seen at their best at Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst and Chiddingstone Castle in Chiddingstone. These ancient properties add a sense of charm to the hundreds of daffodils that adorn their gardens each year. The romantic ruins of Scotney Castle are surrounded by a tranquil moat creating a picturesque setting in spring. The natural beauty of the daffodils surrounds the moat and Castle ruins. The 35 acres of Chiddingstone Castle gives visitors somewhere to enjoy the early spring colour with an amazing display of daffodils in front of the Castle. Scotney Castle dates: 28 February – 1 November 11-5 Wednesday – Sunday. 7 November -20 December Saturday – Sunday 11-4.Admisison (garden only): Adult: £7.20 Child: £3.90 Family: £20

Chiddingstone Castle – dates: 10 April – 27 September 2009 11am – 5pm. Admission: Adults: £6.00 Children £4 (under 5 years free) family season pass £38.50 (family of four) please visit for more information.

Other treats of spring are the more exotic plants that begin to flower such as Magnolia and wisteria, and there are many charming little known gardens in the Heart of Kent where these flowers can be enjoyed.

Marle Place Gardens in Benchley is a haven for horticulturists, wildlife enthusiasts and art lovers. In early spring blossoming magnolias release a delicate scent and splashes of colour can be seen throughout the garden as spring bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths pierce through the soft green foliage of the borders and beds. In late spring cherry pink and lime and crimson blossom hangs delicately from the branches of the cedar and apple trees, whilst the woodland area, found at the back of the private grounds, is covered with wild orchids and bluebells. A variety of wildlife can be seen including an impressive number of birds. Dates: 3 April – 5 October – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday 10am – 5pm. Admission: Adults: £5.00 Senior Citizen: £4.50 Children: £1.00 (4 – 12 years) Wheel chair: free. For more information please visit

Riverhill House and gardens have a stunning hillside location with far reaching views over Kent’s countryside. The garden, only open in spring and early summer, is home to a distinctive collection of trees, particularly cedars and Japanese maples. The oriental Japanese maples are a stunning sight to see as they produce a breathtaking blaze of colour throughout the garden, whilst many spring flowers, particularly clusters of brightly coloured rhododendrons and azaleas produce wonderful displays, all of which can be enjoyed from the quaint sheltered terraces in the garden. Groups are given the opportunity to view the family owned Manor house which will conclude a memorable visit to Riverhill. Dates: 22 March to 28 June 2009 open every Sunday and bank holiday weekends. 11am – 5pm. Adults: £3.50 Children: £0.50. Please visit

Sissinghurst Castle Garden is an intimate and private garden divided into separate hedged rooms, creating the white garden, rose garden, cottage garden and nuttery. In spring the different garden rooms offer a variety of displays, from the vibrant red, orange and yellow tulips in the cottage garden to the waterfalls of blossoming Rosa mullingani, Clematis and double primroses in the white garden. The charming Elizabethan tower offers a romantic backdrop to the planting and stunning views across the Weald. Dates: 14 March – 1 November Monday, Tuesday, Friday – 11am-6:30pm. Weekends: 10 – 6:30pm. Please visit for more information. New this year the Vegetable garden open May – September between 12-4pm.

The gardens of Godinton House in Ashford are wonder to see as they offer a variety of floral displays in spring. The wild garden located near the belvedere is a shower of spring flowers including daffodils, fritillaries, primroses and anemones, while the charming Victorian kitchen garden is filled with fruit trees abundant with soft pink, sweet smelling blossom. Down the clematis edged steps of the rose garden the weeping willows that drape over the informal lily pond create a romantic setting as they regain their soft green colour. Particularly worth seeing is the famous Japanese wisterias which produce cascades of flowers in May. Dates: daily 21 March – 27 October 2-5.30pm. Admission: (gardens only) Adults £4 children: free. Please visit for more information.

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest offers a peaceful setting with lakes, trees and the largest conifer collection on one site in the world. During spring the Pinetum comes alive with a stunning display of colourful rhododendrons and bluebells. Don’t miss the “Glory Hole” which is home to a rich display of vibrant azaleas in May. These striking displays stand out amongst the lakes and lush green shrubs and towering trees of the Pinetum and forest. Please visit for more information. Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is open all year

The spectacular gardens of Hever Castle burst into colour in spring. In early spring daffodils and snowdrops blanket the grounds, along with early tulips and winter violas whilst vibrant camellias climb the walls of the Italian garden. Late spring sees full blooming tulips; rhododendrons, azaleas and stunning wisteria transform the gardens, whilst flowers such as hyacinths, wall flowers and pansies decorate the beds. Don’t miss the stunning water features located throughout the garden and Anne Boleyn’s walk lined with a collection of trees planted over 100 years ago. Dates (gardens only): Wed – Sun 1 March – Easter 10:30am – 5pm. 1 April – 31 October 10:30am – 6pm. Admission: (gardens only) Adults: £9.50 Senior citizens: £8.00 Family Ticket (2+2 or 1+3) £25.50

Penshurst Place is home to 11acres of formal garden separated into rooms by yew hedging, offering an abundance of spring foliage and bloom. The nut garden, Italian garden, paved garden, orchard and park produce impressive displays of colourful tulips, daffodils, bluebells and wisterias which fill the air with wonderful scent. The trees found throughout the garden offer showers of blossom particularly the crab apple. The church terrace has displays of spring bulbs whilst strolling through the blooming magnolia garden is a breathtaking delight. Dates: weekends – 28 Feb – 29 March 10:30am – 6pm. Daily – 30 March – 1 November 10:30am – 6pm. Admission: (gardens only) Adults: £7.00 Children: (5-16) £5.00 Family: (2 adults 2 children) £20.00. Please visit

This is merely an example of what is on offer in the Heart of Kent; the website has information about many other attractions in the Heart of Kent and is the ideal way to plan your perfect day out this spring.

The Heart of Kent’s new holiday guide provides detailed information on itineraries, attractions, accommodation including maps and is available through the website and from tourist information centres around the country.

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