Spring in Kent
There is no better time to visit the Garden of England than in spring when everything is bursting to life with vibrant colours. To make sure you don‘t miss out on some of the most beautiful gardens in Kent when they are blooming in all their glory, we have compiled a list of some of the finest examples for you with the help of Visit Kent. What could be more relaxing than strolling in the spring sunshine through Kent’s English country gardens?
1. Hole Park Gardens
Often described as one of the best places to see bluebells in the country, Hole Park Gardens in Rolvenden, Kent, is also renowned for its 16 acres of private gardens still owned by descendants of the man who planted it in the 1920’s.
Visitors to Hole Park Gardens will enjoy the effect of a huge bulb planting programme which took place in 2015. 15,000 bulbs of various kinds have been planted to add to the large number already present. These include the very dark purple tulip ‘Queen of the Night’ which will make a striking new addition to the rose garden and long borders in May. Many narcissuses have also been added around aged trees on the lawns along with several choice Crocus’s, including ‘Pickwick’.
Owner, Edward Barham, has regularly introduced more varieties into the wild flower meadow. “We are expecting a very impressive display this year”, said Edward.
Group visitors to the gardens in late April and early May will be captivated by this spectacular display of bluebells, which can be seen in the gardens and woodland. Key to the enjoyment of the famous Bluebell woods is The Bluebell Barometer on Hole Park Garden’s website, which indicates the best time to see this exceptional natural display.
Formalised gardens combine with natural woodland (16 acres of gardens and 10 acres of woodland). The recently renovated sundial garden with its pretty mosaic path has been planted for a long flowering season and alliums are a striking new feature of the camellia walk.
Light lunches and delicious homemade teas are available in the coach house and a plant stall will also be open throughout spring.
Hole Park Gardens, Rolvenden TN17 4JB
2. Goodnestone Park Gardens
Goodnestone Park Gardens is a peaceful and romantic garden with connections to Jane Austen.
It has been described by various writers as ‘the very heart of rural England’, ‘one of the loveliest gardens in Kent’ and ‘a haven of beautiful tranquillity hidden away in South East Kent’.
Goodnestone, Nr Wingham, Canterbury, CT3 1PL
3. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, near Sevenoaks, Kent is an historic listed hillside garden that the whole family will enjoy.
The gardens are renowned for carpets of bluebells in the woodland in early spring, and a spectacular array of rhododendrons and azaleas in late spring, as well as magnificent views to the Weald of Kent and rare and ancient trees.
The gardens capture children’s sense of adventure and exploration, with den building in the woods, the adventure playground and finding their way through the hedge maze, and of course there’s the Riverhill Yeti who can sometimes be spotted hiding in our woods much to the delight of the whole family!
After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the gardens, there is the Riverhill Cafe & Shop, where you can enjoy a light meal or afternoon tea.
Riverhill, Sevenoaks TN15 0RR
4. Leeds Castle
The Loveliest Castle in the World.
Rising majestically from the still waters of its moat, surrounded by 500 acres of parkland and gardens, Leeds Castle is without a doubt one of the most beautiful venues in Kent. Coined ‘The Loveliest Castle in the World’, it is the perfect place for a great day out with the family.
Leeds Castle has always been a palace to entertain and impress, with every generation leaving its mark. Today’s interiors are the result of the massive refurbishment by top European designers throughout the 1920s and 30s for its last private owner, Lady Baillie.
Whether you’re passionate about porcelain or want to walk the beautiful grounds, each year brings a new daily programme of activities and events.
Maidstone, ME17 1PL
5. Hever Castle & Gardens
The Childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Be inspired to come and visit this thirteenth century romantic castle – once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Set in magnificent gardens from the majestic formal Italian Garden and topiary, to the informal meanderings of the lakeside and Sunday Walk. The Water Maze on Sixteen Acre Island and the Yew Maze challenges both adults and children alike!
The warm and welcoming atmosphere of Hever Castle and Gardens will give you a day to remember.
Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
6. Penshurst Place & Gardens
Described as ‘the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England’, the Sidney family home of Penshurst Place has been the place for poetic inspiration and lavish Royal hospitality for over 650 years.
The house at Penshurst showcases a marvellous mix of paintings, tapestries and furniture from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, with a unique medieval Baron’s Hall and decadent staterooms on show.
The jewel in the crown is the 11 acres of Elizabethan walled gardens; stunning displays divided by a mile of yew hedges into ‘rooms’; each garden is planted to give a succession of colour as the seasons change.
There is fun for all the family with events, activities and workshops throughout the season, including a toy museum, adventure playground and woodland trails.
Penshurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN11 8DG
7. Brogdale Collections
The National Fruit Collection is the World’s largest collection of fruit trees and plants.
This Kent tourist attraction offers a unique family day out in Kent and also an opportunity for education, exercising both the mind and the taste buds!
For the ideal day out in Kent explore Brogdale’s Fruit Orchards full of fruit trees including apples, pears, plums, cherries, cobnuts, strawberries and quinces.
Experience demonstrations, tastings and fruit displays during the Fruit Festivals.
Tour Guides will entertain you with the historical background to the fruit varieties in season and offer tastings while you explore.
Brogdale Farm, Faversham ME13 8XZ
8. Godinton House & Gardens
Godinton House is a delightful Jacobean house. Wonderful carving, furniture, porcelain and contrasting decoration reflect a fascinating history. Set in 12 acres of beautiful gardens and surrounded by tranquil parkland. Homemade teas and plant sales available all season.
Please note: there is only partial access for disabled visitors to the gardens and house.
Godinton Lane, Ashford TN23 3BP
9. Great Comp Garden
Great Comp Garden is the delightfully quirky creation of the late Roderick and Joy Cameron who moved to the 17th Century Manor in 1957 with the idea of developing the garden into a plant man’s delight.
Roderick and Joy rolled up their sleeves and created an eccentric hideaway in Platt, complete with an Italian Garden, ruins to explore and a garden which now boasts one of the best displays of Magnolias, Azaleas, Salvias, Crocosmias, Dahlias and other exotic plants in the region.
The year begins with Snowflakes & Hellebores, followed by Magnolias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Summer brings a wealth of colourful, rare and exotic shrubs and perennials, especially Salvias; these unusual and long flowering plants are particularly well represented at Great Comp with their display extending between May & October.
The Old Dairy Tearooms are open on site every day and provide mouth-watering home-made cakes in a charming setting.
Comp Lane, Platt, Sevenoaks TN15 8QS
10. The Secret Gardens of Sandwich
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich, which is encircled by the old stone city walls, is an oasis of serenity waiting to be explored.
At the heart of this stunning Kent attraction stands the Grade I-listed manor house, The Salutation, which was designed by famous English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens also devised the three-and-a-half acres of ornamental gardens with the help of Gertrude Jekyll. After lying neglected for 25 years.
The Secret Gardens has undergone a remarkable transformation in the last four years thanks to the dedication of the owners and their determined team. Now restored to its original beauty, The Secret Gardens really is one of the finest gardens in Kent today.
Knightrider Street, Sandwich CT13 9EW