25 pretty gardens to visit in Kent
- Credit: Archant
Kent has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit. Throughout the open garden season you’ll find an array of stunning choices, many places also serving home-made teas
Don’t forget - there is still time to enter your garden into the 2018 Kent Life Garden Awards
Benenden TN17 4DL
Open through NGS: Sun 29 Apr, Sun 6 May (12pm-6pm). Admission: £6, child £2.50
Created more than 33 years ago by artist and plantswoman Charlotte Molesworth, this unique garden is whimsical and romantic. Look out for topiary atop wavy hedging and an extensive palette of layered planting in mixed borders. Planting is also chosen for wildlife, in particular nesting birds and small mammals. A tranquil haven to discover and you can also stay at the property in a quirky self-catering cottage converted from the potting shed.
Woodchurch TN26 3RA
NGS: Suns 22 Apr, 9 Sep (2pm-6pm). Admission £6, child free, home-made teas in 17th-century barn
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Seven-acre partly terraced garden with a wide range of ornamental trees and shrubs, stretching down a south-facing slope, with lovely views over neighbouring fields towards Tenterden. A succession of interest is provided from bulbs, shrubs and herbaceous plants in broad vistas or more intimate vignettes, with themed areas, including a flame bed and camellia dell. Superb carpets of bluebells and anemones in mature woodland make for an invigorating walk.
3. Boundes End
Bidborough TN4 0XB
NGS: Visits welcome by arrangement June to August, group 20 max. Admission £3, child free, home-made teas
Designed and created by owners Carole and Mike Marks the abundant garden is set on an unusual third-of-an-acre plot formed from two triangles of land, and was a finalist in the Kent Life 2016 Garden Awards. There are formal and informal areas, terraced beds, collections of containers and lots of interesting features to enjoy. Seating is placed throughout, so allow time to sit and fully enjoy the garden.
Frittenden TN17 2DH
NGS: Wed 2, Suns 6 and 27, Wed 30 May (2-5). Admission £4.50, child free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement April and May, 30 max
Dainty, colourful geums are the stars here in this pretty cottage garden with a National Collection of more than 100 of these vivacious blooms planted through the beds. Although less than a quarter of an acre, the garden seems larger as it is cleverly divided and intensively planted with a wide range of hardy perennials, bulbs and shrubs. Climbers jostle softly against weathered pergolas and the whole effect is of charming abundance. You can even buy some geums to take home for your own garden.
5. Crowmarsh House
Wateringbury ME18 5DU
NGS: Visitors welcome by arrangement in June, max. 8 people. Admission £3.50, child free, home-made teas £3
Winner of our Kent Life amateur garden 2017, this inspirational small courtyard is inspired by both English and Mediterranean styles. Keeping to a palette of white and green it is a serene enclosed oasis full of ideas to inspire. Admire the elegant parterre with Lonicera nitida hedging, racemes of white wisteria and repeated roses, to containers of edibles and the detailing from upcycled objects, such as collection of antique watering cans and charming statuary.
Nr Sittingbourne ME9 0BB
NGS: Sun 9 May; Wed 20 Jun; Sun 16 Sep (11am-5pm). Admission £7, child £2, home-made teas. Sun, Wed, BHM, 16 Apr-30 Sep (11am-5pm)
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the picturesque 10-acre landscaped garden and parkland has both open and internal views. There’s a woodland area with azaleas, rhododendrons and bluebells, a renovated Edwardian rock garden, fine trees, formal areas with clipped yew hedges, a Gothic folly, a paved rose garden and mixed borders.
Markbeech TN8 5NR
NGS: Mon 28 May, Fri 15 Jun, Fri 29 Jun, Fri 13 Jul, Sat 4 Aug (1.30pm-5.30pm). Admission £5, child free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement May to Oct, groups 10-50
This charming four-acre country garden with fabulous views has been in the same family for 160 years. From the ruin garden with formal parterre the areas extend out from the house with herbaceous borders, mature trees, roses, peonies, wildflower meadows and a productive garden, complete with chickens in the orchard.
Ashford TN23 3BP
Daily 1 Mar-1 Nov (1pm-6pm). Delphinium Festival week, 23 Jun-2 Jul. Admission: Garden only £5, House and Garden £9, child free
Explore 12 acres of gardens around a magnificent Jacobean house, redesigned in 1900 by Sir Reginald Bloomfield in his typical architectural style. Famous for its shaped yew hedge reflecting the roofline of the house, there are terraced lawns, herbaceous borders, a 1920’s Italianate garden, a rose garden, formal pond and a walled garden resplendent in summer with fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and a fabulous array of delphiniums. In late May there are lovely irises and in June delphiniums star.
Wingham CT3 1PL
Apr-Sept, Sunday, Tue, Wed, Thu, BHM (11am-5pm). Admission: £7, child £2
One of Kent’s outstanding gardens and popular with return visitors, Goodnestone has connections with Jane Austen, who was a regular guest and wrote Pride and Prejudice immediately after staying here in 1796. Historic garden of around 14 acres around the 18th-century house, with woodland, panoramic views, a contemporary gravel garden and an extensive walled garden with densely planted borders, old-fashioned roses and productive areas. You can walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps along the newly-reinstated Serpentine Walk through the park.
Great Comp, Platt TN15 8QS
Daily 25 Mar-31 Oct (11am-5pm). Admission: £8, child £3
Skilfully designed seven-acre landscaped and expertly planted garden with adjacent nursery. Paths and open lawns lead past a plantsman’s collection of shrubs, trees, heathers and herbaceous plants, while theatrical wall ‘ruins’ separate areas of more formal planting. The late season is particularly colourful, not just from foliage, but also with one of the country’s finest salvia collection, dahlias and other perennials.
11. Hever Castle
Edenbridge TN8 7NG
Main season 26 Mar-28 Oct (10.30am-6pm). Admission: Castle and Garden £17.25, child £9.75
Romantic gardens around a moated castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, blend history from different eras. Standing by the vast lake, with the mist rising, can transport you back in time. Also to admire are hundreds of roses, classical statuary, mazes, fountains, herbaceous borders, topiary, herbs and Italianate gardens.
12. Hole Park
Rolvenden TN17 4JB
1 Apr-9 Jun daily, bluebells late April/early May. 13 Jun-31 Oct, Wed and Thu. Sun 7, 14, 21, 28 Oct (all 11am-6pm). Admission: £7.50, child £1
Lovely views and attractive landscaped garden spread over 15 acres. The garden has been opening to visitors since 1927. Fine specimen trees dot sweeping lawns and there are walled and hedged gardens with mixed borders. Carpets of bluebells in spring and stunning autumn colour, with lots of interest between from a wide range of shrubs, perennials and annuals.
13. Knowle Hill Farm
Ulcombe ME17 1ES
NGS: Sun 15 Jul (2-5.30). Admission: £5, child free. Visitors also welcome by arrangement Feb to Sept
Past winner of our Kent Life Garden Awards in 2012. Set on a slope with far-reaching views to the Weald of Kent, this beautiful two-acre garden has deep, densely planted borders in orchestrated colour themes, Mediterranean and tender plants, ribbons of lavender buzzing with bees, a walled garden, evolving topiary and a new green garden is nearly complete.
14. Leeds Castle
Maidstone ME17 1PL
All year round, 10am-5pm
The gardens of Leeds Castle reflect the historic fabric of the architecture and traditions of the estate that has seen 900 years of heritage as it changed through the ages. Glorious gardens surround the impressive castle. Explore natural-style woodlands with large expanses of lawns, mature trees and carpets of bulbs, as well as a cottage garden and a Mediterranean terraced garden.
Edenbridge TN8 5NH
NGS: Sun 5 Aug (12-5). Admission: £4.50, child free
The private garden of garden designer, nursery owner, author and Kent Life Garden Awards’ Head Judge Roger Platts. Set adjacent to his home and nursery, the garden has a relaxed air with densely planted curving borders bursting with a broad range of shrubs and perennials. A wildflower hay meadow, kitchen garden and late-summer flowering border complete the idyllic scene.
16. Mount Ephraim
Hernhill ME13 9TX
Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun and BHM. 1 Apr-30 Sep (11am-5pm). Admission: £7, child £2.50
Explore 10 acres of gardens with herbaceous borders, fanciful topiary miscellany, a millennium rose garden with arches and pergola, rock and water gardens, as well as a mizmaze of grasses and perennials. A garden to stroll in and children will delight running in and out of the shimmering grasses dotted with colour in the maze. Superb vistas over fruit farms to the Swale estuary.
17. Old Bladbean Stud
Bladbean CT4 6NA
NGS: Sun 27 May; 10, 24 Jun; 8, 22 Jul; 5, 19 Aug (2pm-6pm). Admission: £6, child free, home-made teas
Romantic interlinking gardens created from scratch by owner Carol Bruce. Old-fashioned roses, colour-themed borders, vegetable beds and a striking formal garden with 300-ft long colour schemed, symmetrically double borders dotted with painted obelisks. Managed as an ornamental eco-system and there is also an experimental self-sufficiency project which includes a wind turbine and solar panels.
18. Orchard House
Marden TN12 9PJ
NGS: Sun 20 May; 5 Aug (11am-4pm). Admission: £5, child free
Although relatively new, having been developed over the past 11 years, this plantswoman’s garden is abundant with bloom and life. There is a lovely potager billowing with cut flowers and produce, herbaceous bee-friendly borders with clouds of cosmos, gaura and achilleas, plus collections of containers on the patio. There’s also a delightful small nursery specialising in herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. Productive beehives and honey for sale.
19. Penshurst Place
Penshurst TN11 8DG
30 Mar-28 Oct (10.30am to dusk). Admission (house, garden and grounds): £11.50, child £6.50
This historic 10-acre garden dates back to the 14th century and has more than a mile of clipped yew hedges dividing a series of garden rooms. From spring bulbs in profusion, followed by the famous peony border to the formal rose garden and herbaceous borders, there is a long season of interest to enjoy, as well as events through the season.
20. Pheasant Farm
Oare ME13 0QB
NGS: Visitors welcome by arrangement Apr-Jun, groups 10-30. Admission: £4, child free, home-made teas
You could almost be in France at this atmospheric garden around a 17th-century farmhouse farmhouse. A relaxed outdoor lifestyle, quirky decorative touches and an infinity lawn with views over Oare marshes and creek encourages a sense of relaxation. And look out for the herbaceous planting, massed lavender and shrubs, as well as a circular walk through an orchard and the adjoining churchyard.
Sevenoaks TN15 0RR
Mar-Sep, Wed-Sun and BHM (10.30am-5pm). Admission: £8.25, child £5.95
Home to the Rogers family since 1840, this hillside woodland garden with views across the Weald of Kent is glorious in spring with carpets of bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons. Later roses take centre stage and the areas of new planting. There is also a modern water garden and for the children adventure areas that include den building and yeti spotting that will have them enthralled!
22. Rock Cottage
Bilsington TN25 7LA
NGS: Sun 10 Jun; Sun 15 Jul, Sun 9 Sep (10.30am-4.30pm). Admission: £5, child free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement May-Sep, groups 10-plus
One of two runners-up in the 2017 Kent Life Garden Awards, this tranquil two-acre country garden has been created by Bill and Penny Sisley over the past 33 years with a range of garden rooms and areas. You will find quite an eclectic mix that includes a topiary garden, a Mediterranean garden, exotic planting, agave containers, vegetables and cut flowers, an orchard and a lime walk. Rambling roses roses and clematis adorn structures and there’s a surprises around every corner.
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich CT13 9EW
NGS: Wed 19 Sep (10am-5pm). Admission: £8, child free, home-made teas
The restored garden is hidden away behind high walls in this quaint town. The Lutyens and Jekyll gardens spread out from the Grade I-listed manor house, now a boutique hotel and restaurant. Many original features have been carefully re-instated, such as the characteristic double borders with their changing ripples of colour. Other areas include woodland, productive gardens and a small lake. The aim is to revive the sense of heritage with a fusion of traditional and contemporary styles.
Ash, nr Sandwich CT3 2AX
NGS: Sun 29 Jul, Sun 19 Aug, Sun 30 Sep (11am-5pm). Admission: £3.50, child free, home-made teas
Home to the Head Gardener of the Salutation, Steven Edney and his partner Louise Dowle, so do expect a touch of the exotic! While the front garden around the cottage is more traditional with a medley of effervescent flowers, vegetables and herbs, including espaliered apples on the fence, the back garden has been transformed into a jungle paradise with rare hardy and tender exotics in a lawn-free vision of towering plants. Wildlife friendly, dense, lush planting without any chemicals and three small ponds
25. Watergate House
Fordwich CT2 0DB
NGS: Sat 28 Apr, Sat 16 Jun (2pm-6pm). Admission: £4.50, child free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement Apr-Aug, groups 10-plus
Timeless English beauty in a magical walled garden that is home to garden designer Fiona Cadwallader. Ancient walls beside the River Stour provide an enclosed space, hortus conclusus, that is filled with roses and perennials, while a green oak pergola echoes a monastic cloister, as the property was once owned by St Augustine’s Abbey. Described by Fiona as “a country house garden in miniature”, there are defined areas of formal, natural, productive and woodland planting.
Find out more
• More than 100 gardens in Kent open through the National Gardens Scheme. Look out for the Kent brochure locally and visit
• Glorious Gardens open in support of ellenor
• Hospice in the Weald Open Gardens Scheme allows access to gardens of all kinds, from cottage to wildlife havens, to raise money for the hospice
• For a range of village open garden weekends near you, visit www.opengardens.co.uk