Five stunning English country gardens

Borde Hill Garden. Credit: Derek St Romaine/
Borde Hill Garden. Credit: Derek St Romaine/

Spring is in full bloom, here are some of our favourite English gardens across the country.

The White Garden is said to be the most popular garden and features flowers of exclusively white, silver or green hues
The White Garden at Sissinghurst only features white, silver or green flowers

Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

At this beautiful garden you can see the fruits of the labour of poet and gardener Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson who poured their love of horticulture into the grounds around their romantic home.

Vita and Harold – part of the Bloomsbury Set – purchased the derelict Sissinghurst in 1930, and set to work creating their vision of a garden as a series of rooms, with Harold focusing on interesting ways of connecting the ‘rooms’ and Vita busying herself with selecting the flowers that adorned them, including those within the famous rose garden.

Plan your visit to Sissinghurst

Borde Hill Garden. Credit: Derek St Romaine/
Borde Hill Garden. Credit: Derek St Romaine/

Borde Hill Garden, West Sussex

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016, Jay Robin’s Rose Garden (named after the current owners’ daughter) displays David Austin English roses in the grounds of a beautiful Elizabethan house.

Plan your visit to Borde Hill

Kenilworth Castle
View from the Elizabethan Garden towards the ruin of Kenilworth Castle. Credit: VisitEngland/English Heritage

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden

For a true sense of the opulence and splendour of the Elizabethan era, take a visit to Kenilworth Castle. For 400 years its garden, built for Queen Elizabeth I, who visited its owner, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, for 19 days in 1575, lay hidden until English Heritage decided to restore it. The restoration owes much to an eye-witness account of the garden in the Langham Letter, a piece of 16th-century writing attributed to Robert Langham, a member of Dudley’s household, but which some believe was actually written by author and scholar William Patten. The recreated garden includes a bejewelled aviary, an 18-foot-high marble fountain and perfumed walkways, all of which would have been designed to prove to the queen that Dudley had the wealth and connections to be deemed a suitor.

Plan your visit to Kenilworth Castle

Aberglasney House and Gardens

Another major restoration project has taken place at the medieval Aberglasney House and Gardens in the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire, Wales, which has a unique Elizabethan cloister garden at its heart, framed by a parapet walkway, a rare survivor of this style of garden architecture.  Its 10 acres of ancient gardens include an 18th-century yew tunnel, while the Ninfarium is an indoor garden set amid some of the house’s ruinous rooms.

Plan your visit to Aberglasney

Britain magazine
The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, usually referred to as Kew Gardens.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

And so to Surrey, to perhaps the most famous gardens in the world, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which are home to the largest collection of plants on the planet.
Situated on the outskirts of London, Kew Gardens, as they are better known, were officially founded in 1840, though an earlier Georgian garden was created here when Kew was still a royal residence. The Victorian reincarnation included the introduction of the famous glasshouses, the tropical Palm House and the foundation of the Herbarium Collection, as the gardens became a place for scientific research as well as a major tourist attraction.

Plan your visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

And now for something completely different…

Pure Land Meditation Centre and Japanese Garden

This hidden gem, featured on the Alan Titchmarsh TV series Britain’s Best Back Gardens, may not be your typical English garden but it offers a haven of tranquility in Nottinghamshire. Visiting friends in nearby Teversal in the 1970s, Japanese-born Maitreya (Koji Takeuchi) came across a property for sale in North Clifton and decided to use it as a serene base from which to teach meditation.

Plan your visit to Pure Land

For the full feature see the Jan/Feb 2016 (March 2016) issue of BRITAIN.

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