14 delightful Dorset gardens to visit in August

Stone arch in a garden at Knitson Old Farmhouse in Dorset

Knitson Old Farmhouse at Corfe Castle, lovingly created over six decades - Credit: Louise Jolley

From an artist’s colourful hill top garden to a sub-tropical paradise in Lyme Regis, there are some wonderful National Garden Scheme venues opening their gates this month across Dorset

Knitson Old Farmhouse: Cottage-style garden, at base of chalk downland, evolved and designed over six decades. Herbaceous borders, rockeries, climbers and shrubs. Large wildlife friendly kitchen garden, including 20 varieties of fruit bushes and trees. Sloping garden with uneven paths, main lawn and tea area level. 

Open: August 3 & 10 (12-4.30pm) Where: Corfe Castle BH20 5JB 

Old Granary Cottage: Sensational hilltop garden with sweeping views to Eggardon Hill created by artist Hugo Grenville as an inspiration for his painting, a blaze of pink and yellow, violet and red, silhouetted against the bluish-greens of South Dorset hills. Bright floral colour in a modern flamboyant style featuring salvias, echinacea, cosmos and tropical plants. Opportunity to view Hugo’s art work and studio (hugogrenville.com). 

Open: August 5 (5.30-8pm) with wine/August 6 (12-6pm) with homemade teas  

Where: West Milton DT6 3TN  

Colourful summer border at Manor Farm in Hampreston in Dorset

Colourful borders at Manor Farm in Hampreston, looked after by three generations of the Trehane family over a century - Credit: ngs.org.uk

Manor Farm: Traditional farmhouse garden designed and cared for by three generations of the Trehane family over a century of farming and gardening at Hampreston. Noted for its herbaceous borders and rose beds within box and yew hedges. Mature shrubbery, water and bog garden. Dorset Hardy Plant Society sales at openings.  

Open: August 7 (1-5pm) Where: Hampreston BH21 7LX 

Lawns with flower beds in summer at the Old Rectory in Pulham, Dorset

Formal and informal planting combines at the Old Rectory in Pulham - Credit: ngs.org.uk

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The Old Rectory: Four acres of formal and informal gardens surround an 18th century rectory with stunning views. Yew pyramid allées and hedges, circular herbaceous borders with late summer colour. Exuberantly planted terrace, purple and white beds. Box parterres, mature trees, pond, fernery, ha-ha, pleached hornbeam circle. Flourishing bog garden.  

Open: August 7 (2-5pm) Where: Pulham DT2 7EA 

Broomhill: Clipped box, island beds and borders planted with shrubs, roses, grasses, masses of unusual perennials and annuals give vibrancy and colour. Lawns and paths lead to a less formal area with wildlife pond, meadow, bog garden, late summer border. Plant stall.  

Open: August 11 (2-5pm) Where: Rampisham DT2 0PU 

Colourful herbaceous border in high summer at Broomhill in Rampisham Dorset

Flower packed herbaceous borders at Broomhill in Rampisham - Credit: ngs.org.uk

Roman House: Small, town garden in the centre of Lyme Regis with a sub-tropical twist. Bordered by a stream, the planting is loose and informal attracting many insects around a charming garden studio. Terraced cut flower beds, raised veg beds in gravel garden and several herbaceous borders. Worth visiting Harcombe House on the same day, as only 10 minutes away. 

Open: August 13 & 14 (1-5pm) Where: 5 St Andrews Meadow, Lyme Regis DT7 3NS 

Harcombe House: Landscaped into a hillside 500ft above the Char Valley, with spectacular views across Charmouth and Lyme Bay, this steeply sloping site comprises ¾ acre formal garden restored and replanted with an abundance of visually stunning shrubs and perennials, and ½ acre wild garden. Hydrangeas and eucryphia are the stars in August. Challenging for the less mobile, unsuitable for wheelchairs. 

Open: August 13 & 14 (1-6pm) Where: Pitman’s Lane, Morcombelake DT6 6EB 

The Old Vicarage: Glorious 1.7 acres wildlife garden which features the first swimming pond to be built in Dorset. Tree viewing platform, grotto, pond dipping, swing and other children’s attractions. Cakes including gluten free, diabetic and vegan options.   

Open: August 14 (2-5pm) Where: East Orchard, Shaftesbury SP7 0BA 

Castle Rings: Small, long garden in two parts laid out beside an Iron Age hillfort with spectacular views. Pretty cottage style garden features a formal area with colourful planting followed by a paved area with pots leading through to informal planting. Topiary, roses and clematis on tripods. 

Open: August 21 (2-5pm) Where: Donhead St. Mary SP7 9BZ 

Ellerslie: Pre-ticketed opening with talk on the history and development of this large restored 19th century walled garden with formal lawn, box/yew features, densely planted borders, north and south facing beds with coordinating cool tones. West facing border divided by water feature and warm colours, two wonderful rose borders. Open same day as Farrs in nearby Beaminster, well worth doing both gardens. Book at ngs.org.uk, click on Special Garden Events, select Dorset. 

Open: August 24 (11am-12.30pm) 

Where: Cattistock DT2 0JL 

Potager garden at Farrs in Beaminster, Dorset filled with flowers, vegetables and fruit

Jennie's potager garden at Farrs in Beaminster , filled with an eclectic mix of flowers and vegetables and fruit - Credit: Carole Drake

Farrs: John Makepeace’s inspirational grasses garden, and his wife Jennie’s riotous potager with an oak fruit cage feature in this walled garden of gardens that wraps round one of Beaminster’s historic town houses. Pre-ticketed special opening, includes a talk on John’s furniture design and recent commissions, and a talk by Jennie on plants, followed by a Dorset cream tea. Book at ngs.org.uk, click on Special Garden Events, select Dorset. 

Open: August 24 (2.30-4.30pm) Where: 3 Whitcombe Road, Beaminster DT8 3NB  

Colourful flower filled potager at Farrs in Beaminster in Dorset in summer

Jennie Makepeace's flower, fruit and veg filled potager at Farrs in Beaminster is a riot of colour in summer - Credit: Carole Drake

22 Avon Avenue: Japanese themed water garden featuring granite sculptures, large deep ponds, waterfalls, cloud topiary and a collection of goldfish and water lilies. 

Open: August 28 (12-5pm) Where: Avon Castle, Ringwood BH24 2BH 

Japanese garden with waterfall and pond at Avon Avenue in Ringwood, Dorset

The Japanese themed garden with its waterfalls and deep pools at Avon Avenue in Ringwood - Credit: ngs.org.uk

Blackshed: Browse over 200 colourful flowerbeds growing a selection of cut flowers, foliage and grasses to supply florists and the public for weddings, events and occasions throughout the seasons. A dazzling array of dahlias are stars of the show at this time of year.  

Open: August 28 (1-5pm) 

Where: Blackmarsh Farm, Dodds Cross, Sherborne DT9 4JX 

Pale orange dahlias in bloom at Blackshed Flowers in Sherborne Dorset

Dazzling dahlias at Blackshed in Sherborne - Credit: blackshed.flowers

The Hollow: Admire bright floral colour and coastal style planting in this former stone quarry above Swanage. Stone terraces with many unusual shrubs and grasses attract many butterflies and bees. Pieces of mediaeval London Bridge lurk in the walls. Exceptionally wide range of plants including cacti and air-plants.  

Open: August 31 (2-5.30pm)  Where: 25 Newton Road, Swanage BH19 2EA 

Find details for all these gardens and more at ngs.org.uk 

Click here for a circular Dorset pub walk at Milton Abbas