The sun's arrived, the days are warming and the flowers are blooming. Spring and summer are special times of the year for exploring the glorious gardens of Britain, all bursting with a multitude of colour.
Nothing beats our nation's National Trust treasures with their lavishly landscaped lawns and secluded garden sanctuaries. Idyllic country pubs with rooms in sleepy villages and charming small towns make the ideal base for exploring such gems, or for enjoying a delightful drink and meal along the way.
Here we look at twelve of the most spectacular National Trust gardens across Britain to visit all year round, plus the special places on their doorsteps to escape to for a stay, drink or meal.
Sissinghurst's wonderful garden is the enduring legacy of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson who laboured long and hard to complete this horticultural work of art. Don't miss Vita's tower writing room and explore the nearby lakes and bluebell woods.
Only 25-minutes from the glorious Bell in Ticehurst, a thriving village inn with the wow factor. As well as being a cracking dining destination, it's also a fabulous and offbeat place to stay. Check out their quirky garden lodges and outdoor fire pit. Continue reading >
Nymans is a garden lover's heaven, radiating unique beauty and celebrating some of England's most magical spectacles all year round. Its famous walled garden is a must-visit, especially in spring when the cherry trees create a wonderfully enchanting ambience.
Find the 16th century Old House Inn just 15-minutes down the road - one of West Sussex's best kept secrets, with six elegant bedrooms overlooking a glorious garden and a menu which boasts the freshest seasonal ingredients, sourced locally wherever possible. Continue reading >
This 12th-century former Augustinian priory became a private house after the Dissolution. Now managed by the National Trust, Mottisfont includes a drawing room decorated by Rex Whistler and a superb walled garden containing one of the finest collections of roses in the country. A tributary of the River Test flows prettily through the grounds.
Discover The Peat Spade right on this treasure's doorstep in an idyllic thatched village setting that nestles in the heart of the beautiful Test Valley, only 100 yards from the famous trout stream. Step inside to find a relaxing yet classy country inn with beautifully designed rooms. Continue reading >
Hidcote in the captivating Cotswold hills is one of the country's greatest gardens, full of rare shrubs and trees, herbaceous borders and unusual plants from all over the world. In addition, there are superb views across the Vale of Evesham from the garden.
We recommend The Townhouse only 15-minutes down the road for a delightful drink, meal or place to stay - a distinctive 400-year-old Grade II listed building with a striking 18th century castellated frontage, located opposite Shakespeare's school in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. Continue reading >
Acknowledged as one of Europe's finest landscaped parkland gardens, Stourhead is managed by the National Trust. The gardens serve as a perfect example of the English landscape style, and the lake is a picture at any time of the year. The autumn colours here are a real treat.
Only 20-minutes away is The Beckford Arms, a 'beacon' in the business that many pub entrepreneurs aspire to emulate. Its relaxed atmosphere, easy-going service and gloriously rural location on the edge of the Fonthill Estate all make this a superb spot for a little rest and relaxation. Continue reading >
A luxuriant colourful garden with award-winning magnolias and rhododendrons. Trengwainton Garden holds plants that flowered in Britain for the first time back in the 1920s. Follow winding paths through wondrous woodland to discover stunning sea views across Mount's Bay - it's worth the slight climb!
Just 12-minutes away in the pretty fishing village of Mousehole is The Old Coastguard. Situated right next to the sea on Mount's Bay, with glorious views from the verdant lawned garden that leads down to a small, rocky beach, this inn is a must for those who love Cornwall's seascapes. Continue reading >
Catching sight of Blickling Hall for the first time takes your breath away. The turreted Jacobean mansion stands proud in the Norfolk landscape and surrounding it is a beautiful 500-acre park with a luscious lake, pretty walled garden and scenic walks. Blickling, near Aylsham, is widely believed to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn.
Not far from this hidden gem is The Wiveton Bell, a rustic-chic treasure and Michelin Bib Gourmand for 2021, with exquisite premium dishes, luxurious French-style bedrooms and alfresco dining heaven. Continue reading >
Ickworth's spectacular Rotunda was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless artefacts collected on tours around Europe in the 18th century. Explore over 1800 acres of parkland and gardens. The Italianate garden includes box hedges and Mediterranean planting.
Around the corner is the impressive Northgate which prizes luxurious surroundings and top-quality food without pretension. At the heart of the inn is the cocktail bar-cum-lounge, open all day with direct access to the alfresco terrace. Continue reading >
A World Heritage Site holding ancient abbey ruins and a picturesque water garden. Follow the neatly mown lawns down to the peaceful riverside and enjoy a picnic under the trees. Or walk alongside the river to the deer park, housing Sika, Fallow and Red deer as well as an abundance of ancient trees. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is a one-of-a-kind place to explore.
The Durham Ox is the perfect hideaway to escape to afterwards. Sitting atop the hill of 'Grand Old Duke of York' fame in the heart of beautiful Crayke, this unassuming 300-year-old inn affords stunning views across the Vale of York from the rear cottage bedrooms and the garden. Continue reading >
Charlecote Park is a peaceful parkland set beside the river Aon, filled with wildlife including fallow deer and spotted Jacob sheep. These historic herds have both been protected in the grounds since the 18th century when the Victorian owners brought them to the estate. A visit to this special place is a perfect day out - make sure to bring your binoculars!
After visiting this wondrous landscaped garden, nip down the road to the lively Rose and Crown which is always ready to welcome friends old and new, serving fresh, quality, seasonal food every day (with a top-notch roast every Sunday). Continue reading >
A historical estate with 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 1,000 acres of deer park and a neo-classical mansion. Seek out the pretty Gardener's Cottage tearoom tucked away in the Victorian Walled gardens overlooking the orchards for an idyllic breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea spot. Another foodie haven in Tatton Park is the Stables restaurant which champions delicious, fresh local ingredients.
Drive 15-minutes around the corner and you'll find the very special Roebuck Inn - a true gem! Offering six rustic boutique bedrooms and an intimate neighbourhood bistro with Mediterranean inspired dishes, it boasts a stylish interior with a big dose of quirk. Continue reading >
A Welsh paradise steeped in history. Powis Castle, built around 1200, stands high on a steep rock overlooking a now world-famous garden, influenced by both Italian and French styles. Weave through the magnificent grounds and discover wonderfully rare plants hidden in lavish borders, splendid statues each with their own fascinating history, and more.
"Nowhere else will you experience such a theatrical mix of dramatic terraces, sophisticated flower borders, fantastical topiary and superb views." - National Trust.
Not far from this medieval treasure is the Lion and Pheasant. Step inside this exquisite gem and be transported back 200 years to a world of ancient beams, glass chandeliers and wonky floors. The Loft Suite, with its timbered ceiling, hip bath and storm shower, is the perfect romantic hideaway. Continue reading >
Last updated: 23.04.21
Photo credit: Shutterstock (Stefan-Kadar - Nymans/Annie Spratt - Mottisfont Rose Garden/Fabio Reis - Stourhead/Oscar Porras - Blickling Hall/Chris Dorney - Ickworth/Pecold - Studley Royal Water Garden & Fountains Abbey/Matt_4621 - Charlecote Park/JR Harris - Tatton Park/Sinead Photography - Powis Castle Garden)