5 Kent gardens you have to visit

Bluebells at Hole Park near Rolverden in Kent

Blue is the colour as you meander through beautiful bluebells - the subtle springtime scent lingering in the air - at Hole Park, Rolverden - Credit: Leigh Clapp

Not for nothing is Kent known as the garden of England  - so, come rain or shine, make the most of spring's bounty by taking a tour round one of these glorious gardens

Hole Park Gardens near Rolvenden in Kent

Hole Park Gardens near Rolvenden - Credit: Archant

1. See life through a misty blue haze at Hole Park, near Rolvenden, whose ancient woods are carpeted from mid-April onwards with exquisite, subtly-scented bluebells. Once you've admired the 10 acres of woodland, you've still got a 16-acre garden to admire, complete with wisterias (at their best in May), azaleas and rhododendrons, immaculately trimmed yew hedges and sculptural surprises around every corner. Oh, and there's a wealth of water features to enjoy too, with ponds, rills and streams all helping to create a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. Admission: £9 for adults and £1 for children (5 to 18). holepark.com

Daffodils growing in the grounds of Godinton, Kent

Spring flowers blooming at Godinton - Credit: Archant

2. Godinton near Ashford feels very much like the working estate and home that it is - yes, there's no denying it's grand, but you can tell it's a family garden too. Twelve acres of tranquil gardens are surrounded by ancient parkland studded with stately oaks and chestnuts and, though the landscape here has undoubtedly evolved over the centuries, Reginald Blomfield's garden design of 1898 is still very much in evidence. Terraced lawns bordered by a vast yew hedge and topiary box have been softened over the last century by the addition of long, curvy-edged herbaceous borders and ornamental tree and shrub plantings. Go now, and you'll catch the last of the daffodils, with almond blossom and peonies just appearing - but, whenever you visit, there's always something to enjoy here - including a walled garden with ornamental greenhouse, a lily pond and an Italian garden. Cream teas are on offer too. From Tuesday, March 30, Adult garden tickets from £6. godintonhouse.co.uk

Brogdale Collections

The contrast between blue sky and cherry blossom ranging in colour from creamy pink to warm cerise always says 'spring'. Catch it while you can, though, at Brogdale as blossom time doesn't last long... - Credit: Brogdale Collections

3. OK, so it's not strictly a garden, but Brogdale, near Faversham, is renowned as the home of the nation's fruit-tree collection and, as such, offers an exhilarating springtime explosion of blossom. First to bloom are plum and ornamental cherry trees, followed by cherry, apple and pear blossom. In normal circumstances, Brogdale would be hosting its Hanami blossom festival, a celebration of all things cherry tree. While it's not possible this year, you can still wander under your own steam, adhering to government guidelines of course - though you will need an Orchard Pass (from £13.50 per adult per year, or £28 for a family of 2 adults and children aged 2 -15) to get in. brogdalecollections.org

4. Vita Sackville West's enchanting garden at Sissinghurst Castle, with its various 'rooms' each with its own vista, has influenced gardeners the world over since its creation in the 1930s. From the white garden to the lime walk, and with its statues, pretty water features and exceptional collection of old roses, Sissinghurst always has something to inspire - little wonder it attracts under normal circumstances around 200,000 visitors a year. Enjoy wandering from space to space while it's quieter and explore, too, the new Delos garden, inspired by Vita and her husband Harold Nicolson's visit to the Greek island in 1934. With its Mediterranean feel, it's an interesting contrast to the lushness elsewhere in the garden. £8 per adult, National Trust members, free. nationaltrust.org.uk

Shrubs and perennials with red flowers in the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle

The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle - Credit: Archant

5. The origins of the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, near Eynsford, couldn't be much more dramatic: plantsman Tom Hart Dyke came up with plans for it when he was held captive in Colombia for nine months back in 2000. Today, Lullingstone sees those plans having come to fruition: a garden celebrating the reality that around 80% of the plants we enjoy in our own gardens are in fact not native to our own isles but to other countries. Thus plants from around the globe are planted in their respective continents of origin, a mini 'world map' having been created within the garden. There are some real corkers to discover here: the world's rarest gum tree (Eucalyptus morrisbyi), the stinky Dog-Poo plant (Hoodia gordonii) the world's most dangerous plant, the Queensland Stinger (Dendrocnide moroides) and the hottest chilli - Dorset naga. There's are cacti and orchid houses as well as a woodland walk to enjoy, making this a really good day out. Adults, £9, family ticket (two adults two children), £20. lullingstonecastle.co.uk

Just a stone's throw from Lullingstone is the Castle Lavender Farm - read more about it here

And for more ideas of where to enjoy spring flowers in the garden of England, see here

For more ideas of uplifting things to do, whatever the season - plus regular news of the county's extraordinary people, places and history - subscribe to Kent Life.

Comments powered by Disqus