Dazzling colours, seductive scents, superb seasonal shows – Kent’s gardens are rightly world-renowned. And with 180-plus to choose from, there’s one to match your every mood and interest whether it’s grand and historic, exotic or informal. Excite or soothe your senses on a genuinely revitalising escape and pick up brilliant ideas for your own garden from celebrated designers across the ages.
Mount Ephraim, near Faversham. Time drifts by in this enchanting
Edwardian garden as you follow terraces of fragrant roses to a small lake and a woodland area with views of surrounding orchards. Highlights include an extensive collection of shrubs and trees, a grass maze and Japanese rock garden.
Goodnestone Park Gardens, near Canterbury. A surprising haven of
tranquillity hidden away in southeast Kent – Jane Austen was a frequent visitor to the family home of her sister-in-law. The walled garden is resplendent with clematis, jasmine and roses, and many admirers believe the view through a succession of enclosures to the church tower is one of the best in any English garden. Stroll through 14 acres of 18th-century parkland studded with rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.
Scotney Castle Garden, Lamberhurst near Royal Tunbridge Wells. Created in
the 1830s by Edward Hussey III, the gardens sweep around the fairytale part-ruins of a 14th century moated castle. In May-June it is ablaze with rhododendrons and azaleas, in full summer, roses and wisteria ramble over the ruins, and in autumn, trees and ferns light up the scene with warm colour. Delight in the ever-changing vistas provided by winding paths, parkland and woodland.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, near Cranbrook. One of the world’s most
celebrated gardens. The creation of writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson, it surrounds the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion in a series of small compartments – among them, the iconic White Garden which cools the senses after the abundance of ‘hot’ colours elsewhere. The Rose Garden in midsummer is packed with intoxicating, old-fashioned shrub varieties.
Penshurst Place and Gardens, near Tonbridge. Discover the roots of
horticultural traditions here, the 11-acre formal walled garden has records dating back to 1346. Relax in the ancient parkland. All-season interest ranges
from spring daffodils and bluebells to golden and red apples in autumn. Take time to tour the ancestral home of Viscount De L’Isle, tour the state rooms and medieval Baron’s Hall.
Emmetts Garden, Sevenoaks. Plunge amid exotic and rare trees and
shrubs from across the world in this delightful informal garden influenced by William Robinson. Home to the highest treetop in Kent!
Other fabulous gardens in Kent include:
Hever Castle, near Edenbridge
Walmer Castle and Gardens, Walmer
Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford
The Salutation, Sandwich