Britain is renowned for its gardening culture, and the country is absolutely strewn with beautiful examples of some of the world’s best gardens. There is a long history of gardening within the UK, and though many cultures from around the planet have shaped and influenced planting and design over the centuries, the quintessentially English garden remains the backbone of many garden greats.
Britain is famed for its gardening organisations, and the most recognised is probably the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Their flagship garden, RHS Wisley, is located in Woking and offers an absolute treat for gardeners wanting inspiration. Open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day, the 240 acres are packed with planting ideas and offer great insight into the gardening year. The newly planted Rose Garden is a great sight to explore, especially with its more contemporary planting, whilst visiting the Glasshouse offers tropical flowers and foliage. There are many planting areas to offer inspiration, whatever garden type visitors may have in their own space too, catering to a wide range of preferences. Meanwhile, with an orchard, nursery, stunning views and friendly staff to help with questions, it’s the ideal British garden to explore.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
A relatively modern garden in comparison to many, Sissinghurst Castle Garden was created during the 1920s by the writer Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson. It has become one of the most visited gardens in England, largely because it is one of the most romantic outside retreats in the entire country and offers colour all year round.
The garden was developed around a concept of many small garden rooms, and each has its own colour and intimacy. The White Garden is one of the most famous ‘rooms’, and in each space visitors will find that many traditional English plants are interwoven with rarer and more exotic species. There is also surprise when entering each area, with different planting combinations and designs offering something new at every turn.
Wrest Park is one of the English gardens that has been hidden for so long, but which is now being unveiled thanks to English Heritage. The 90 acre site is located in Bedfordshire, and stunning gardens, including the recently restored Rose and Italian Gardens, are situated around a French-style mansion.
Like many large garden estates, there are several key elements and features of the gardens that visitors can enjoy on their stroll around Wrest Park. The Long Water, with its edging of perfectly clipped laurel, leads the eye down towards Archer’s Pavilion (below). Wrest Park’s Orangery is said to have held the tallest orange trees in England which had to be wheeled out of the greenhouse during the summer months. Meanwhile, on the east side of the house sits the tiny Le Petit Trianon; a gabled wooden cottage which was modelled around Mme de Pompadour’s Versailles chateau. In addition to these features, a beautifully laid out woodland area, Chinese temple and Dogs’ Cemetery are all locations which shouldn’t be missed on a trip to this British gem.
Stowe Landscape Gardens
One of the most famed British gardeners was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, and he was head gardener at Stowe Landscape Gardens. These gardens cover a vast 750 acres and contain 40 temples and historic monuments to visit in addition to the planting and design aspects. Founded in 1710, gardening developments and changes have been made throughout the decades, and the garden has been open to visitors from the mid 18th century. In historical terms, Stowe Landscape Gardens is recognised as one of Britain’s most important horticultural designs, changing the shape of gardening and leading to where garden design lies today.