Guest post by Debbie Woodliffe
Making the most of outdoor spaces is an important part of British culture, from visiting the sprawling grounds of a historic stately home to exploring national parks and their stunning vistas. Whether you live in the UK or not, these beautiful spots deserve a space on your travel bucket list. From botanical gardens to breathtaking outdoor spaces, keep reading as we guide you through the best of the best beautiful English gardens…
RHS Wisely, Surrey
The Royal Horticultural Society’s stunning flagship garden is located in the heart of Surrey and is one of the UK’s most visited gardens. Established in 1878, the site sprawls over 240 acres and relies on about 200 staff, students and volunteers to maintain it.
The huge site at RHS Wisely has plenty of variety to keep visitors busy and entertained, from Jellicoe Canal with its large collection of water lily cultivars to Oakwood woodland with Asian and Japanese influences.
RHS Wisley is all about experimentation, science and research, and in 2021 it opened a state-of-the-art science building, RHS Hilltop. This so-called ‘Home of Gardening Science’ houses interactive displays, has three new gardens showcasing stunning British-made garden furniture and a cafe which uses fresh produce from the surrounding gardens.
Stay nearby at: Crooksbury Hill House for 1920s glamour and beautiful countryside walks on your doorstep.
Gravetye Manor, Sussex
Gravetye Manor is home to some iconic and influential gardens which date back to 1884. Across its 35 acres, you can see the original influence of William Robinson, who is best known for his concept of the ‘wild garden’ and is considered responsible for modern gardening as we know it today.
In 2010, after new owners bought the manor, the space was lovingly restored and renovated to include a flower garden, kitchen garden, meadow, orchard – and even a croquet lawn. Plus, there are two stunning lakes which create a haven for local wildlife, plants and magnificent trees.
This quintessentially English and historical garden is well worth a visit, so why not take a stroll around the beautiful grounds and treat yourself to a bite in the Michelin Star restaurant afterwards? They host garden tours and events throughout the year, including floristry workshops, speaker lunches and much more.
Stay nearby at: Comforts Place for some serious R&R in the home’s pool and sauna!
Highgrove Gardens, Gloucestershire
Highgrove is the private residence of Their Majesties King Charles III and The Queen Consort. His Majesty The King has devoted much time to transforming the Gardens of Highgrove since he first arrived in 1980.
The garden showcases a rich variety of flora and fauna and is home to a variety of native species of plants and wildlife alike. From the Sundial Garden with a traditional country cottage aesthetic to the Wildflower Meadow and its National Collection of beech, there’s plenty to see on the grounds of this royal residence.
Highgrove offers private or group tours from spring onwards, and visitors can dine in the Orchard Room or browse artisan goodies in the estate shop.
Stay nearby at: Daffodil Cottage for traditonal English country charm and a little romance for two.
Bishop’s Garden, Norwich
Whilst this garden is one of the lesser-known spots in England, it’s well worth the visit to this 4-acre gem hidden in the heart of the city of Norwich, Norfolk. This historical garden dates back to 1100 AD and has belonged to the Bishop of Norwich for over 900 years.
It is run exclusively organically and features long herbaceous borders, a wildflower labyrinth, a woodland walk, beehives and more. There is also a herb garden, fruit orchard, a kitchen garden and extensive shrubbery boasting rare and unusual plants.
The garden relies on volunteers and takes on work experience students to help them with their practical knowledge. The gardens are open year-round between 1 pm to 4.30 pm, alongside hosting regular events to raise money for charity.
Stay nearby at: The School House for lush grounds, chic interiors and easy acces to historic Norwich.
Kew Gardens, London
No list of English Gardens would be complete without the iconic Kew Gardens. It’s just 30 minutes from central London, covers over 320 acres, and is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is so much to do and see throughout Kew Gardens, from the tropical desert plants in Princess of Wales Conservatory to the Arboretum featuring a diverse collection of over 14,000 trees. There is also an interactive children’s garden and a family kitchen and shop, making it the ideal day out for families of all sizes.
Kew Gardens are open throughout the year and have plenty of onsite restaurants and cafes, or visitors can bring along a picnic to enjoy outside during the warmer months. They also host events, including dedicated tours and inclusive learning opportunities for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Stay nearby at: Austen House for Georgian elegance in the heart of the capital.
Hoveton Hall Gardens, Norfolk
This historical Norfolk hall dates back to the 17th century and has been a private home to the Buxton family since 1946. The gardens hold historical importance, with The Glass House being one of the only iron-constructed greenhouses still standing in all of England.
Open between April and September, the gardens benefit from a wealth of beautiful attractions, such as the Victorian kitchen garden with lawns and herbaceous borders or the woodland walk through the glorious Ashmanhaugh Wood.
The gardens are also home to The Kidney Lake, which is a wildlife haven throughout the year for species such as nesting waterfowl, ducklings, frogs and toads, kingfishers and herons. Why not enjoy a walk among the gorgeous grounds, then take a break in the quirky Garden Kitchen Cafe for a fantastic day out?
Stay at: Rockland Cart Lodge for a contemporary twist on a farm building conversion.
These are 6 of the best and most beautiful of England’s gardens, but there are hundreds more, all with accommodation nearby. Check out the whole portfolio of UK properties on Oliver’s Travels for inspiration for your next getaway. Need any assistance or special extras? Just contact our concierge team who will be happy to assist.