National Trust gardens are at their peak during the summer months, with striking colours, scents and relaxing spaces to take in the views. With vibrant displays of flowers and long, refreshing days to look forward to, it’s time to make the most of nature.
Biddulph © National Trust Images/Andrew Butlera
1. Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire
Biddulph is a fine example of a delightful high Victorian garden created by James Bateman for his collection of plants from around the world. A visit takes you on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. The garden features collections of rhododendrons, summer bedding displays, a stunning dahlia walk in late summer and the oldest surviving golden larch in Britain, brought from China in the 1850s. The garden is laid out so that the visitor is led from one area to another in a journey of discovery and exploration. Each garden is separated by hedges, banks and rockwork. Paths, steps and tunnels lead from one to area to another resulting in an intriguing journey of discovery.
2. Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey
It is easy to see why the quirky green oasis at Claremont was fit for a princess in bygone days. Not a typical garden of herbaceous borders, but an unusual oasis of trees and shrubs, where the views always change, the water sparkles and secret glades await. Enjoy the stunning views and the perfect spot for a family picnic. With a luscious grass amphitheatre to relax on, this eye catching earthwork is the only surviving example of its kind in Europe and it offers an excellent view down over the lake to the valley below. There’s also a serpentine lake with a mysterious grotto to visit and a vibrant camellia terrace which blooms in the summer months.
3. Sizergh, Cumbria
Enjoy a satisfying stroll at Sizergh this summer; an unexpected treasure nestled on the edge of the Lake District. This much loved family home stands proud in its natural setting. Explore the grounds where you will find the formal Dutch garden and the magnificent limestone rock garden. Admire the views and the tulips that border the terrace walls and take a walk to the beautiful kitchen gardens and orchard. Sizergh garden has been allowed to evolve and expand gradually over 300 years and is still being developed to this day. Don’t forget to venture into the 1600 acres of beautiful estate to spot the rich and diverse wildlife that call Sizergh their home.
4. Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan
Dyffryn is a wonderful place to visit, with the Grade I gardens featuring a stunning collection of formal lawns, an extensive arboretum and a number of intimate garden rooms for visitors to relax in. The glorious sunshine streams through the garden’s reinstated glasshouse, highlighting its impressive collection of cacti and orchids. Dyffryn’s amazing arboretum covers just over 22 acres and houses fantastic tree specimens from all over the world and is the perfect place to go for some peace and to soak up the summer sun. Don’t forget to visit the kitchen gardens where you can find vegetables and fruit trees that would have once supplied most of the house in its heyday.
5. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire
What better way to enjoy a warm summer’s stroll than by cool water at this World Heritage Site. Marvel at one of the best surviving Georgian water gardens, with breathtaking views of the Cistercian Abbey, canals, neo-classical temples and elegant ornamental lakes. Conservation work has opened up some eye-catching vistas, so there’s a stunning view around every corner. There are 800 acres to explore with medieval deer park, a Victorian high Gothic church, Jacobean manor house and a surviving Cistercian corn mill. Visit this summer to enjoy the seasonal colour and charm of this beautiful landscape.
6. Hidcote, Gloucestershire
Cradled in the Cotswolds with stunning views over the Vale of Evesham, a stroll in the gardens at Hidcote is sure to make a lasting impression. One of the most inventive gardens of the twentieth century, Hidcote sets the trend for dividing a garden into ‘rooms’, showing the fulfillment of a quiet American’s English fantasy. Full of contrasts, this garden is fiery and red at one turn and calm and white at the next, where avenues lead into small pockets of shrubs, trees and unusual plant species from all over the world. Explore the maze of narrow paved pathways and discover secret gardens, magnificent vistas and plants that burst with colour. Find a quiet spot and sit on one of the ornate benches and watch green woodpeckers search for their lunch or listen to the calls from the buzzards circling overhead. Time it right and you might catch a glimpse of the elusive hummingbird moth. Meander through the intricate gardens and into the Wilderness. This secluded stretch of tall trees is just right for a picnic. Take a glimpse beyond the boundary and see the garden blend effortlessly into the countryside beyond. This garden really is the perfect place if you’re in need of some gardening inspiration.
7. Ickworth, Suffolk
With miles of parkland and woodland to explore, a wander or cycle around Ickworth Park makes a grand place for an entertaining summer day out. Surrounding the central Rotunda, the gardens at Ickworth are beautiful and diverse. Don’t miss the informal Italianate garden, one of the oldest surviving examples of its kind which was created in 1821. Discover the Victorian stumpery, a rockery made out of parts of trees which is one of the largest in the UK, it makes for a most peaceful and enchanting walk and is great for imaginative kids. Beyond this lies the remnants of an eighteenth century walled garden, a magical summer house and a dazzling lake, a perfect place to relax and have a picnic with the family. Before you leave take a visit to the Tea Party Oak, at around 700 years old, this oak is one of the oldest trees on the estate.
8. Nymans, West Sussex
Nymans is a garden lovers’ home, a place to relax in the summer months and enjoy the peaceful country garden. The grounds boast a historic collection of plants, gathered from around the world, with the borders providing fresh and dynamic early summer displays using unusual perennial plants and dahlias. Nymans is packed full of exotics, from Chinese and Chilean trees in the walled garden to the new South African bed. The terrace border, in front of the romantic ruins, evokes warmer, drier climates with Mediterranean and exotic planting. Whilst there, you can also look out for the eucryphias that produce big, starry white flowers in August, which along with other flowers, grasses and plants, offers a treasure chest of colourful and unusual plants from summer onwards. Go on a stroll and you’ll discover intriguing ruins, summerhouses, statues, vast views and planting with year-round beauty and a large international collection.