With its elegant cathedrals and exquisite castles to its summer-filled coastlines and glorious animal parks, Kent has everything you could ever wish for. However, the county isn’t described as the Garden of England for nothing. Laced in trees, plants and eye-catching gardens, the greenery in the south east corner is rich with outdoor beauty.
Here are just some in the long-list we’re lucky to be surrounded with.
Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens
Located just minutes away from Biddenden Vineyards in one of the most rural parts of the county, this National Trust site is one of the country’s most well-known gardens. It actually has ten of them, all distinct from one another and equally intriguing as they surround the area’s 16th century castle. Whether it’s the Purple Border or the Rose Garden, it is no surprise this garden is a rocketing tourist hotspot.
A rapidly-increasing population sprawling with more and more houses, Ashford does however, contain 12 acres of rural beauty. Hedges, lawns and dazzling pink flowers, it also has ponds that attract an abundance of birds and farm animals. Its house is both ancient on the outside but with a modern interior that stands behind eye-catching salvias. Godinton House really is a unique attraction for any garden-lover.
Picture: Oast House Archive
Another garden in our list that is an English Heritage site, Chartwell, the home of former prime minister Winson Churchill for more than four decades, is an entire day out for anyone that visits. The house itself is steeped in sensational architecture, not to mention history, a flawless restaurant and a vegetable garden that simply makes you want to get one back at home for yourself. Its gardeners simply make the site a privilege to view.
Hever Castle & Gardens
When spring arrives and the winter fully departs, nothing is as appealing as an afternoon spent relaxing in the surrounding of an Italian-style garden. The Pompeiian wall joins over 4,000 rose bushes here at Hever Castle, as the cascading of water echoes peacefully from the ground’s water maze. Also steeped in Tudor heritage, these award-winning gardens are estimated to take one-and-a-half hours to complete during your visit, as you have the privilege of enjoying a beautiful exhibition during your day too.
Picture: Graham Bould
Situated midway between Ashford and Maidstone in the small town of Lenham, Leeds Castle is often seen as a kids day out in the summer during the holidays. However, those that have visited in the past will tell you that in order to reach these castle walls, you need to take a picturesque walk through the magnificent Princess Alexandra Gardens. Every colour imaginable then stands either side of the River Len as you approach the castle’s moat, before you are then graced with various scenery scattered around the grounds.
Walmer Castle and Gardens
Like its fellow Kent counterpart Dover, Walmer is also located on the East Kent coast, however this castle has an equally-impressive history. Constructed by Henry VIII during the 16th century, the gardens here contain chalk quarries, wobbly bridges and a wildflower meadow, in a small and compact Kent town that is simply not admired enough for its beautiful outdoor masterpiece.
Pashley Manor Gardens
These magnificent gardens are the absolute perfection of garden beauty. Whether it is the annual spring Tulip Festival or an awe-inspiring bluebell walk, their popularity simply doesn’t reach the heights it deserves. They are part of a Tudor house that is filled with ponds, fountains and streams, not to mention a café that allows you to absorb all the garden’s wonders whilst having a nice cup of tea.
Picture: Peter Jeffery
Doddington Place Gardens
The host of operas and TV episodes including Perfect Scoundrels, these gardens have been home to the Oldfield family since the start of the 20th century. The gardens are part of a huge 850-acre Edwardian estate and welcome thousands of visitors each year, and have also been open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme for more than fifty years. Their location between Faversham and Sittingbourne ensures they are a unique, scenic landmark for anyone in this part of the county.
Picture: Richard Humphrey
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
A Himalayan style garden filled with sculptures, incredible views and a setting so peaceful you wouldn’t want to leave. This is even in addition to the stunning fountains you will come across during your walk through a jungle-themed adventure that will leave you breathless in a 12-acre wonderland. What more could you want after being locked in for weeks?
Picture: Michael Garlick
Penshurst Place Gardens
Tonbridge’s first entry on this list, Penshurst is a glorious example of medieval perfection. The location of Henry VIII’s hunting battles way back when, these gardens have been used for a multitude of events over the years. They are colourful, neat and convey tranquility like no other, making them a must-see as soon as the chance arrives.
Picture: Paul Farmer