We’re tremendously lucky to live in a country that appreciates the outdoors like Britain does. We have a vast range of landscapes within our collection of islands, from dense woodland and wildflower meadows, to mountain forests and lakeside greenery. Travelling around the United Kingdom is an enlightening experience in itself, but it’s not just the majesty of the wilderness that is beautiful; there’s just as much splendour in the carefully designed, manicured and crafted public gardens around the country. As a garden design agency, our team all have passions for the beautiful garden and we’ve been to see a fair few between us…
We’ll start with one right on our doorstep. Sissinghurst in Kent is an historic castle with a chequered background; from being used as a prison in the 1700s to operating as a Cranbrook Union workhouse. The castle also had its fair share of royal residents over its time as a mansion house, but all this was before Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson got their hands on it in the 1930s. As a shadow of its former self, the two garden enthusiasts took the ruins and transformed them into one of the most famous public gardens in England today.
Throughout the grounds are a number of individual gardens including the Formal, the Cottage and the White gardens. Visit the castle in all of the seasons if possible, it represents one of the most fantastic year round examples of perfect garden design. With an exemplary English heritage, the gardens perfectly epitomise the Kent landscape and the local flora and fauna.
Biddulph Grange, Stoke
From one end of the spectrum to the other, Biddulph Grange is an eclectic and experimental garden that has to be seen to be believed. Designed in the 1800s, you could easily mistake your surroundings from something out of ‘Through The Looking Glass’ when inside Biddulph. Its Victorian designer James Bateman had a peculiar taste for the international, blending elements of Ancient Egyptian with Modern Swiss, which in turn rubbed shoulders with Chinese architecture. This fantastical experience has to be experienced and the vast array of beautiful dahlias don’t do anything to harm its bizarre beauty.
Kew Gardens, London
Right in the centre of one of the most metropolitan and modern cities in the world are the botanical gardens at Kew. Sandwiched between Brentford and Richmond, hugging the banks of the River Thames; Kew Gardens are an outstanding cultivation of natural beauty. Making money as a tourism destination, the true original intention of Kew Gardens was to collect and study botany from all over the world; a tradition which continues to this day. With Victorian architecture, treetop walkways and (lots of) polished glass; Kew Gardens is more than enough reason to sit in an M4 traffic jam.
Helmsley Walled Garden, Yorkshire
Not only is Helmsley an aesthetic wonder of northern England, there’s also a very worth-while charity drive behind the gardens. Aiming to utilise the restorative and relaxing traits of gardening to help those with disabilities, Helmsley Walled Gardens charges an entrance fee which is used to fund horticultural sessions. Peppered with greenhouses of tropical flora, the gardens are beautiful and fascinating in equal measure. When visiting, make sure that you stay your hand from the wonderful fruit that grows around the gardens.
Shute House, Dorset
By far the smallest and most modest garden on the list, Shute House in Shaftesbury is also one of the youngest. Designed and created around 1970, the garden feels like it was planted yesterday and has an atmosphere unmatched by the larger public gardens. Its designer, Geoffrey Jellicoe, used his talents to manufacture amazing views of the hills and downs of the Dorset countryside. Framed with elegant greenery, Jellicoe guides the eye and the feet with herbaceous borders; whilst also disguising the springs of hidden pools in thick planting.