Larger estate gardens/regular openers

Some of my favourites…

Large formal lawns, fine trees, a pinetum, borders and roses out from an elegant 18th century house. Of particular note is the walled kitchen garden restored in 2000 to a design by Arabella Lennox Boyd that has hop arbours, pleached fruit over arches, vegetables, flower borders and a large glasshouse.
Belmont House, Throwley, Faversham, ME13 0HH
Open through the year (10 – dusk)
Tearoom April to Sept


Great British Life: Doddington Place's fine gardenDoddington Place's fine garden (Image: Doddington Place)

Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the picturesque ten-acre landscaped garden and parkland has both open and internal views. Woodland area with azaleas, rhododendrons and bluebells. Renovated Edwardian rock garden, fine trees, formal areas with clipped yew hedges, Gothic folly, a paved rose garden and mixed borders.
Doddington Place, nr Sittingbourne, ME9 0BB


Great British Life: The greenhouse at Godinton House and GardensThe greenhouse at Godinton House and Gardens (Image: Godinton House and Gardens)

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.
Godinton House and Gardens, Ashford, TN23 3BP


Great British Life: A glorious border at GoodnestoneA glorious border at Goodnestone (Image: Goodnestone)

One of Kent’s outstanding gardens and popular with return visitors. Jane Austen was a regular guest – she wrote Pride and Prejudice immediately after staying here in 1796. Historic garden of around 14 acres, 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 follow in Jane’s footsteps along the newly-reinstated Serpentine Walk.
Goodnestone Park Gardens, Wingham, CT3 1PL

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. 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.
Great Comp, Platt, TN15 8QS

Romantic gardens around a moated castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, blend history from different eras. Standing by the vast lake, as the mist rises, can transport you back in time. Also to admire are hundreds of roses, classical statuary, mazes, fountains, herbaceous borders, topiary, herbs and Italianate gardens.
Hever Castle and Gardens, Edenbridge, TN8 7NG

Fifteen acres of garden, surrounded by parkland and with lovely views. Yew hedges separate and frame areas, with mixed borders, pools, lawns and specimen trees. Glorious woodland walks, carpeted with bluebells in spring and stunning foliage colour in autumn. Something of interest all season. Newly renovated long border.
Hole Park, Rolvenden, TN17 4JB

Glorious gardens surround the impressive centuries-old 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.
Leeds Castle, Maidstone, ME17 1PL


Great British Life: Mount Emphraim's miz mazeMount Emphraim's miz maze (Image: Mount Emphraim)

Spread across ten acres of enchanting Edwardian gardens in a country estate that has been home to the Dawes family for 300 years. Herbaceous borders, fanciful topiary, a millennium rose garden with arches and pergola, fanciful topiary, a rock garden, arboretum with mature trees and a miz maze of grasses and perennials. You can picnic by the lake and stroll the areas throughout the seasons.
Mount Ephraim, Hernhill, ME13 9TX


Great British Life: Penshurst Place's famous peony borderPenshurst Place's famous peony border (Image: Penshurst Place)

We are blessed with so many historic gems in Kent; here is another. Dating back to the 14th century and one of the oldest in private ownership, home to the Sidney family since 1552, the gardens are a delight through the seasons, with a series of ‘rooms’ to discover. Highlights include bluebells and tulips in spring, the famous 100-metre long peony border, irises, roses and lavender in summer, with late season borders continuing into autumn.
Penshurst Place, Penshurst, TN11 8DG

Home to the Rogers family since 1840, this woodland garden is glorious in spring, with carpets of bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons. Later, roses take centre stage and areas of new planting such as the cutting and productive garden. There is also a modern landscape-style water garden and, for children, adventure areas that include opportunities for den building – and look out for the yeti!
Riverhill Himalayan Garden, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RR


Great British Life: Colour and creativity at The World GardenColour and creativity at The World Garden (Image: Lullingstone Castle)

The ever-ebullient, modern day plant hunter, Tom Hart Dyke continues to develop his World Garden at his home Lullingstone Castle, with its collections from across the globe, of some 8,000 plant species, cultivars and hybrids. Areas are nicknamed, showing the sense of humour you’ll encounter - the ‘hot n juicy’ hot house, for instance, which showcases diverse collection of cacti and succulents. Keep an eye on the website for special events through the year, many are rather eccentric but oh so delightful, when Tom ropes in his friends to join him in playing a range of historic characters. Try to link your visit when an event is on for an extra fun day out.
The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, DA4 0JA