Kent is known as the garden of England, and for very good reason. You will find field after field of orchards and hop gardens, not to mention many a beautiful manor garden. With so many magnificent gardens to visit, I thought I would share with you some of the most beautiful gardens in Kent that I return to year after year.
Great Dixter House & Gardens
Nestled in the small village of Northiam you will find one of the best Arts and Crafts Gardens in the entire country. The gardens are grown around a 15th century Tudor timber framed house which was home to the famous gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd until his death in 2006 when he left it to The Great Dixter Trust. He spent 40 years creating these gardens and they are special in that they are awash with colour all seasons of the year. He made sure that even in the depths of winter there would be different flowers and plants growing. I had spent years wanting to visit these gardens until finally last September we made it there! And they were just as incredible as I had imagined they would be. I’ve never seen anything quite like them and photos definitely don’t do this place justice. I have never seen the variety of plants that Great Dixter has but what really stood out was the sheer amount of different textures of plants, flowers and trees. It was a feast for the senses!
Visit their website here for further details on opening times and entry prices.
Scotney is such a beauty!! Alongside Ightham Mote, Scotney is one of my all time favourite National Trust properties and I can’t stop returning over and over. It dates back to the 12th century but when the property came into the hands of Edward Hussey III in 1835, he decided that he wanted a ‘new’ house instead of the old moated manor. So he built himself a new one which stands on the hill looking down at the old and he turned the old manor into a garden centre piece. The best I’ve ever seen, it’s magical! Personally I would have preferred to keep the old manor but each to their own. And we now get to enjoy it in a way we never would have if it remained lived in. The castle ruins make for one of the most beautiful gardens in Kent.
Click here for opening times for Scotney Castle.
This place has a piece of my heart. A medieval moated manor house whos interior looks very much the same as it would have done centuries ago. I can still remember the day I clapped eyes on this place and it hasn’t lost its magic. It is so rich in history and stories that every time I visit I discover something new! I like to visit here in late spring when the gardens are brimming with colour and the orchards are blossoming. I cannot recommend this beauty enough. I adore the place. Btw, it is pronounced Item Mote not Ig-tham Mote.
Click here for opening times for Ightham Mote.
Sissinghurst is set in the woodlands of Kent. In particular, in an area first settled in the early Saxon period and in fact, the earliest historical reference to Sissinghurst is in ai medieval document calling it ‘Saxingherste’, meaning woodland settled by Saxons. The earliest dwelling was a moated manor owned by the de Saxingherste family and Edward I is known to have stayed here on at least three occasions! Of that manor house, only the moat survives, which you can enjoy lovely walks along.
Over the coming centuries Sissinghurst saw a lot of change. It was let as flats in the 17th century, used as a prison for French sailors in the 18th and almost complete ruin until the property was purchased by Vita Sackville-West and her husband in 1930. They poured all their energies into transforming the property into what we see today. A true marvel! And I love the orchard when that is in blossom, it looks absolutely gorgeous.
Click here for opening times for Sissinghurst Castle.
Pashley Manor Gardens
I bet you don’t know this, I didn’t until I visited either, but this was once the former childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the renowned second wife of Henry VIII. The history of the manor goes back to the 13th century when in 1292 Sir Edmund de Passele built a moated manor. The Passele, or Pashley, family held the manor until 1453 when it was purchased by the Bullen family of Norfolk. The Bullen family name is better known today in its alternate spelling, Boleyn. Anne Boleyn is thought to have spent parts of her childhood at Pashley Manor which the family used as a hunting lodge!
When Anne was executed for treason in 1536 the Boleyn family was forced to sell the manor and today it is a wonderful place to wander around in the spring time with blankets of bluebells, a magnificent kitchen gardens, a Monet style bridge in the garden, a house laden with wisteria which you can smell before you can see – the beauty of this place knows no bounds!
Visit their website here for details on opening times and entry prices.
So there are five of the most beautiful gardens in Kent. There really are so many more it was hard to narrow it down. Is there anywhere you think should be on this list that I missed off?
Just a note – three of these gardens are in the care of the National Trust – Sissinghurst, Ightham and Scotney. If you aren’t already, I highly recommend becoming a member as it will save you tons of money if you are wanting to visit more than one place! And in Kent you will want to use your membership tons, they have an abundance of incredible houses and gardens to visit! Knole Park, Chartwell, Emmetts Gardens and Batemans but to name a few.
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