Whether you’re looking for a calm oasis away from the noise of family life, or seeking a taste of tropical planting to continue that holiday feel, or just looking for inspiration for your own garden, there’s a plethora of options available.
Here are some of our favourite summer gardens worth a visit.
1. Nymans, West Sussex (nationaltrust.org.uk)
Nymans is an extensive yet intimate garden, set around a romantic house and ruins. Discover hidden corners through stone archways, walk along tree-lined avenues while surrounded by the lush countryside of the Sussex Weald. The adjoining woodland, with lake and bird hides, has plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.
The highlight in late summer is the dramatic summer borders, which have been around since the Edwardian period. New this summer is the Garden in the Ruins, an oasis of calm and tranquillity reflecting the creative legacy of Oliver Messel, a costume and stage set designer of the mid-20th century, who spent part of his childhood at Nymans.
2. Morton Hall Gardens, Redditch, Worcestershire (ngs.org.uk)
Explore eight acres of garden and park, where you’ll enjoy breathtaking views over the Vale of Evesham to the mountain ranges on the horizon, from an escarpment where this Georgian country house is situated, hidden behind a tall hedge, and the surrounding garden of outstanding beauty. It offers a series of distinctive but linked garden rooms, which are a riot of colour with perennial and annual planting schemes. A garden for all seasons, it features one of the country’s largest fritillary spring meadows, sumptuous herbaceous summer borders, a striking potager, a majestic woodland rockery and an elegant Japanese Stroll Garden with tea house.
3. Hardwick, Derbyshire (nationaltrust.org.uk)
At every turn you’ll find bursts of summer colour throughout Hardwick’s historic gardens. Enjoy the planting in the West Court, a mass of white flowers which flows into deep reds and purples by the house, where the planting was influenced by the famous Gertrude Jekyll. Meander among the hidden passageways between the gardens, in particular the orchards, where the grass has been kept long – the perfect hide and seek spot.
Family fun includes soft toy play, frisbee or kite flying on the lawn. There’s a secret walled orchard for activity, adventure and adrenaline, where visitors of all ages can unleash their inner child. Enjoy friendly competition with classic games like tennis and rounders, challenge yourself to hit the target with archery, or race your grandpa round the giant natural assault course.
4. The Secret Garden of Louth, Lincolnshire (ngs.org.uk)
Anyone who fancies a touch of the exotic should explore this garden, once a blank canvas in the early 1990s, now transformed into a lush, colourful, exotic plant-packed haven. It features exotic borders, a raised exotic island, ponds, a stumpery, as well as intimate seating areas along the garden’s journey.
5. Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan (nationaltrust.org.uk)
The restored Edwardian gardens at Dyffryn on the outskirts of Cardiff cover more than 55 acres and offer an intimate network of garden rooms, a lily-filled fountain, lush lawns, an abundant kitchen garden, and an extensive arboretum with 17 champion trees. Don’t miss the enormous glasshouse bursting with other-worldly delights, from tropical orchids and banana trees, to cacti and succulents.
Make the most of the gardens this summer with family-friendly games, two natural play areas and sunset performances. To celebrate the Commonwealth Games, there will be sports-themed family activities up to Sep 4 – hurdles, table tennis, rhythmic gymnastics and much more every day. There are also outdoor cinema events planned: West Side Story on Aug 26, Mamma Mia on Aug 27 and The Princess Bride on Aug 28.
6. Yewbarrow House, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria (ngs.org.uk)
This colourful four-acre garden is awash with exotic and rare plants, with dramatic views over Morecambe Bay. Outstanding features include the Orangery, the Japanese garden with infinity pool, the Italian terraces and the restored Victorian kitchen garden. Dahlias, cannas and colourful exotica are a speciality.
7. Exbury Gardens, Exbury, Southhampton (exbury.co.uk)
Exbury Gardens in the New Forest near Beaulieu, designed and curated by the de Rothschild family, is one of the finest woodland gardens in the UK, with over 200 acres to explore. In late summer, check out the bloom-filled herbaceous, centenary and sundial gardens, and meandering paths lined by glorious hydrangeas. Visit the Dragonfly Pond to spot these beautiful flying creatures, wander the woodland trails, and ride the Rhododendron Line steam railway, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. There’s also forest bathing on Aug 25 and Sep 29 (£25 pp) and a falconry day on Aug 23.
8. Laskey Farm, Warrington, Cheshire (ngs.co.uk)
Gorgeous herbaceous and rose borders feature in this 1.5-acre garden, as well as a vegetable area, a greenhouse, parterre and a maze showcasing grasses and prairie-style planting. Interconnected pools for wildlife, specimen koi and terrapins form an unusual water garden, which features a swimming pond. There is also a treehouse, plus a number of birds and animals.
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