12 Glorious Dorset Gardens to visit in May  

Gardens of White Cliff Manor in Swanage, Dorset

White Cliff Manor in Swanage, an eclectic walled garden terraced and divided into rooms by yew hedges - Credit: White Cliff Manor

From manor house to cottage, enjoy some wonderful late spring displays in these delightful Dorset gardens great and small which are opening for the NGS in May 

White Cliff Manor: An eclectic walled garden terraced and divided into rooms by yew hedges. There are vegetable gardens, an orchard, shrub roses in the meadow garden, mature mulberry trees, a large wildlife pond and an ancient tower, fabulous views out to sea.

Open: April 30 (2-5pm), May 1 (11.30am-2.30pm), June 4 & 5 (2- 5.30pm)  

Where: Whitecliff Road, Swanage, BH19 1RL 

Kings Barrow: The many old and established trees in this fascinating garden make Kings Barrow feel quite majestic. Several acres are built around a structure of mature hedges and trees and there are many different sections to the garden. The lawn, edged with herbaceous borders, dominates and via an avenue of yews leads to a woodland walk encompassing an ancient barrow. A walled garden is split into a vegetable patch, cutting patch and party area. Roses abound throughout and swathes of bluebells are visible in spring.  

Open: April 30, May 1 & 4, June 5 (1-5pm)  

Where: Wareham, BH20 5AJ 

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The Manor House: Set in heart of Beaminster, 16 acres of stunning parkland with mature specimen trees, lake and waterfall, their wonderful walled garden is the cover star for NGS Dorset booklet this year. Plant stall, book stall, pygmy goats, swings for the children, bring a picnic. 

Open: May 1 & 2 (11am – 5pm) 

Where: North Street, Beaminster DT8 3DZ 

Restored bluebell woods at Lower Silton in Dorset

Restored bluebell woods at Lower Silton, opening for the first time this month - Credit: Lower Silton

Lower Silton: Wonderful 25-acre bluebell wood with emerging colonies of early purple orchid. Large developing arboretum with many interesting trees in the fields alongside. Ponds with black neck swans and ducks. When you’ve finished here visit the gardens of nearby Silton House. 

Open: May 7 (2-5pm) 

Where: Silton, Gillingham, SP8 5AQ 

The flower filled gravel garden at Silton House in Dorset

The gravel garden at Silton House, a new NGS venue opening in May - Credit: Silton House

Silton House: Large garden divided into rooms. Topiary and yew hedges, pleached lime walk extending to garden wall against which is an herbaceous and shrub border. Vegetable and flower garden though arch in wall with orchard beyond. Gravel garden with box-edged flowerbeds against house, lawn extending to enclosed swimming pool garden. 

Open: May 7 (2-5pm) 

Where: Church Road, Silton, Gillingham, SP8 5PR 

Flower filled terrace at Silton House in Dorset 

Flower filled terrace at Silton House in Dorset - Credit: Silton House

Julia’s House, Children’s Hospice: The gardens here have been designed so the children who come here for respite care can experience and enjoy different sensory elements. Refreshments in aid of Julia’s House. 

Open: May 7 & 8 (10.30am-3.30pm) 

Where: Branksome, Poole, BH12 1JQ 

The Old Rectory, Litton Cheney: Interesting woodland walkway with a natural swimming pool, rose garden and stunning entrance designed by Arne Maynard with a well-structured herbaceous border, box hedging, copper beech balls and pleached crab apple trees framing the front lawn. 

Open: May 8 & 11 (11am – 5pm)  

Where: Litton Cheney DT2 9AH 

Tree fern in the nature friendly family garden at 49 Stirling Road, Bournemouth

49 Stirling Road, Bournemouth - a nature friendly family garden - Credit: 49 Stirling Road, Bournemouth

49 Stirling Road, Bournemouth: Nature friendly family garden of several parts with a view to sustainable living. Pond with waterfall, orchard area and well-tended vegetable garden. Stepped entrance and multiple stepped decking area. 

Open: May 7 & 21 (2.30-5pm) 

Where: Bournemouth, BH3 7JH 

Falconers: Behind the gate of 150-year-old Falconers Cottage lies a ¼ acre mature garden with some interesting plants. Wander around this lovely cottage style garden to admire its many features including a pond, herbaceous bed, climbers and vegetable plot.  

Open: May 14 & 15 (10.30am-4.30pm) 

Where: 89 High Street, Lytchett Matravers, Poole, BH16 6BJ 

Cottage gardens at Falconers in Lytchett Matravers, Dorset

Cottage garden at Falconers in Lytchett Matravers - Credit: Falconers

Harcombe House: Landscaped into hillside 500ft above the Char Valley this well-established garden enjoys spectacular views across Charmouth and Lyme Bay. The beautiful ¾ acre formal garden has been replanted in natural and relaxed style with an abundance of shrubs and perennials, many unusual and visually stunning. Majestic rhododendrons and azaleas complement spring bulbs and bluebells in a blaze of colour in May/June. Challenging for the less mobile visitor and unsuitable for wheelchairs and buggies. 

Open: May 21 & 22 (1-6pm) 

Where: Pitman’s Lane, Morcombelake, Bridport, DT6 6EB 

Hillside gardens of Harcombe House in Morcombelake, Dorset

Harcombe House in Morcombelake, landscaped into hillside 500ft above the Char Valley - Credit: Harcombe House

The Old Rectory, Pulham: Four acres of formal and informal gardens surround an 18th century rectory. Yew pyramid allées and box parterres, fernery, ha-ha, pleached hornbeam circle. 10 acres woodland walks. Flourishing extended bog garden with islands awash with primulas and irises in May. 

Open: May 22 (2- 5pm) 

Where: DT2 7EA 

Gardens at Serles House in Wimborne, Dorset

The Secret Garden at Serles House in Wimborne - Credit: Serles House

The Secret Garden at Serles House: The home of the late Ian Willis, who lived here for just under 40 years, the executors of Ian’s estate kindly offered to open up his home and garden for the NGS, in his memory. Alan Titchmarsh described this amusingly creative garden as ‘one of the best 10 private gardens in Britain’. The ingenious use of unusual plants complements the imaginative treasure trove of garden objects d’art. Gothic-style conservatory, Oriental summerhouse and Indian summer room.  

Open: May 28, June 11 (10am-4pm) 

Where: 47 Victoria Road, Wimborne, BH21 1EN 

This is just a selection of gardens opening for the NGS this month, find more at ngs.org.uk 

Click here for other events happening in Dorset in May 

Click here for a walk through the Dorset Bronze Age 

Click here for when to see the lunar eclipse in Dorset in May