Here, we list the 10 best summer gardens in the UK to visit this year. With striking colours, heady scents and relaxing spaces to take in the view, it’s the perfect place to wile away a sunny afternoon
With vibrant displays of flowers and long, warm days to look forward to, it’s time to make the most of nature – with a healthy serving of sunshine if we’re lucky. And while you bask in the sunshine you can be certain that your visit helps the conservation charity care for these gardens for many more summers to come.
Best summer gardens in the UK
Sizergh, Kendal, Cumbria
This much-loved family home nestled on the edge of the Lake District is great for a day of family adventures. Explore 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. Don’t forget to venture into the 1,600 acres of rambling estate to spot the rich and diverse wildlife that calls Sizergh its home.
Powis Castle, Powys, Wales
Explore a paradise in Wales. Dating back 300 years, this bright limestone-red castle has world-class gardens steeped in history and stunning views across the Severn Valley. Overhanging terraces house an ancient orangery, original statues and an array of rare and tender plants. During the summer months, the gardens will be blooming with roses, poppies, iris and delphinium, as well as wild flowers including common spotted orchids. Weave your way down through terraces and take a stroll through the medieval deer park or get lost in the romantic charm of the woodlands below. This is truly one of the UK’s best summer gardens.
Dyffryn House, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales
Bursting to life in the summer months, Dyffryn is an idyllic place to soak up the summer sun. The Grade I gardens feature a stunning collection of formal lawns, an extensive arboretum housing tree specimens from all over the world and a number of intimate garden rooms for visitors to relax in. In high summer, the sunshine streams through the garden’s reinstated glasshouse, highlighting its inspiring collection of cacti and orchids.
Fountains Abbey, Ripon, 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.
Hidcote, near Chipping Campden, 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. Full of contrasts, this garden is fiery and red at one turn and calm and white at the next, where avenues lead to 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 vibrant, exotic plants. 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.
Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
With miles of parkland and woodland to explore Ickworth Park makes a grand place for a summer’s day out. Don’t miss the informal Italianate garden, one of the oldest surviving examples of its kind, created in 1821. Discover the enchanting Victorian stumpery, a rockery made out of parts of trees which is one of the largest in the UK. Beyond this lie the remnants of an 18th-century walled garden, a magical summerhouse and a dazzling lake, a perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic with the family. Before you leave take a visit to the Tea Party Oak, at around 700 years old, this magnificent tree is one of the oldest on the estate.
Wimpole Estate, Royston, Cambridgeshire
Wimpole’s magnificent parkland is the work of many of the greatest names in landscape gardening, including Humphrey Repton and ‘Capability’ Brown. Take a summer stroll through the parkland to find the Pleasure Grounds where the family would have taken their picnics in the 18th century, surrounded by exotic plants. Some 12,000 plants in the parterre garden bloom in vibrant tones throughout the summer months, and the vegetable plots in the walled garden flourish with tasty produce ready to be eaten in the restaurant.
Osterley Park and House, Isleworth, Middlesex
Osterley’s formal gardens are a relaxing retreat from urban life during the summer months. Funded by visits to the gardens, they have been transformed during a six-year-long conservation project from an overgrown wilderness back to their 18th-century grandeur of herbaceous borders, roses and ornamental vegetables beds. Look out for the original Robert Adam summer house full of lemon trees and highly scented shrubs. Take a break on the deckchairs on the temple lawn, enjoy the woodland walk and uncover the forgotten boathouse or picnic in the ancient meadow, bursting with wildflowers and butterflies.
Biddulph Grange Gardens, Biddulph, Staffordshire
Biddulph is a fine example of a high Victorian garden created by James Bateman for his collection of exotic plants from around the world. A visit in summertime 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. It’s the perfect place for a lazy summer stroll full of discovery and exploration. And you can be sure that every penny you spend on a visit to Biddulph Grange is helping the National Trust care for the gardens for many summers to come.
Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire
With wide avenues and a sweeping Herbaceous Border, Anglesey Abbey Gardens are the perfect place to while away a summer’s afternoon. Enjoy the heady scent of the Rose Garden, dazzling dahlias and the natural beauty of over 30 acres of wildflower meadows. Take a stroll down to the historic working water mill where you can buy freshly milled wholemeal flour or sit back and watch the world float by in the Sky Garden.