The United Kingdom is best known for their Royal tradition as well as their many lavish castles filled with history, but have you ever noticed the gorgeous gardens that dot these royal palaces? The botanical gardens surrounding palaces, castles, and chateaus in the UK have some of the most exotic plants and flowers you would ever see.

Whether you’re a botanical hobbyist wanting to check out some of the expertly crafted gardens in the UK, or a tourist looking for your next destination, or you’re simply looking for something to do over the weekend, we’ve got you covered. The UK has some of the most beautiful collections of botanical gardens anywhere in Europe. Here are some of the most enchanting gardens and arboretums you can visit.

The Complete List of Gorgeous Gardens In The UK

If you’ve found yourself with a desire to be surrounded by exotic flowers and plants, then a visit to an arboretum or a botanical garden might satisfy your needs. From small dainty gardens to acre-sized patches of land that have been cared for for generations, here are the best gardens you can visit in the UK.

1. Bodnant Gardens

Bodnant Gardens
“Bodnant Gardens”, by DeFacto, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Bodnant Gardens are home to collections of botanical specimens from around the world. A sole family has worked in this garden since it was first built in 1874. Four generations of the same family have since worked on this beautiful garden. The Arts & Crafts movement inspired the Upper Terrace’s design. Collections of Embothrium, Eucryphia, Magnolia, and Rhododendron are some of the specimens at the Bodnant Gardens. Plant lovers will surely love visiting this garden, especially in spring and autumn.

2. Beth Chatto Gardens

Beth Chatto Gardens
“Beth Chatto Gardens”, by Grahamec, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Beth Chatto’s gardens have always been a favourite among the gardening community. Beth Chatto is considered by many to be one of the most influential gardeners of the current and last century. Fans of her work began flooding her gardens after she died in 2018. Chatto had always been a proponent of planting the specific correct plants in the right area, prioritising native species. This practice led to Beth Chatto Gardens having some of the most organic and diverse growth of any garden in the UK. Beth Chatto Gardens may not look as organized, but that’s the point. The beauty of these botanical gardens lies in how they can look as natural as possible.

3. Great Dixter

Great Dixter
“Great Dixter”, by Nick Macneill, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Renowned as one of the best Arts & Crafts gems of the 20th century, the Great Dixter is a great example of an experimental and educational garden. The garden has since been under the care of Fergus Garett after the garden’s original owner, Christopher Lloyd, passed away in 2016. Lloyd had always been famous for his controversial planting combinations, and that trait is still a core concept of the Great Dixter today. Visitors can visit year-round and experience a level of horticultural expertise that rises above the rest.

4. Chatsworth Hall

Chatsworth Hall
“Chatsworth Hall”, by Steve Fareham, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The 105-acre Chatsworth Garden contains a collection rich with history. Home to the Duke of Devonshire, the garden has gone through several Head Gardeners throughout the generations. First laid out in the 17th century, the original Baroque-style landscape is still visible. It also retains many classic attractions such as the Duke’s Greenhouse, the Cascade, and the Canal Pond. Families can enjoy stimulating walking tours or bond with their little ones at a drawing workshop.

Loudon and Wise were the first to design the landscape after the estate was purchased in 1549. Since then, an arboretum and a rockery have been added in by Joseph Paxton. The rockery has also undergone extensive restorations with Tom Stuart-Smith spearheading the effort, while Dan Pearson added contemporary layers to the garden during the recent redesigns.

5. Hidcote Gardens

Hidcote Gardens
“Hidcote Gardens”, by Michael Garlick, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Located in Cotswold, the Arts & Crafts style garden has been a favourite by many since its debut in the early 20th century. It was designed by Lawrence Johnston, an American horticulturist major. Since its creation, Hidcote Gardens has become an influence for many botanists and horticulturists all over the globe. Johnston’s signature hedged ‘rooms’ created a viewing experience like no other. Now owned by the National Trust, the gardens still retain much of the original allure and character.

A myriad of hedge mazes and secret gardens are thoughtfully laid out. Each section contains a unique design language that distinguishes it from the rest. Many of the plants in these collections were procured from Johnston’s personal trips. The gardens also serve as a sanctuary for birds, with woodpeckers and hummingbirds making constant visits. If you’re looking for inspiration for your personal landscaping projects, a visit to Hidcote Gardens would surely help.

6. Inverewe Garden & Estate

Inverewe Garden & Estate
“Inverewe Garden & Estate”, by Robin Drayton, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Found on a remote portion of the western Scottish Highlands coast, the Inverewe Estate was created in the late 19th century by Owner McKinzie. This garden contains an exotic selection of plants from South America, China, the Himalayas and the Antipodes. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the garden experiences a warmer climate, allowing the specimens to grow healthy. The garden offers walking tours along the banks of Loch Ewe, taking visitors on an exotic experience that makes them feel like they’ve gone to a distant land. Now, the 100-acre garden belongs to the National Trust for Scotland.

7. Highgrove Gardens

Highgrove Gardens
“Highgrove Gardens”, by Robin Webster, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Highgrove Gardens looks like something straight out of a fairytale with high hedges, canopies, and wild, exotic flowers and plants. Following a typical garden design, plants are separated into garden rooms dotting around the Gregorian-style house at the centre. Since King Charles III’s purchase in 1980, it has since turned into a sanctuary for endangered native plants such as the common spotted orchid and yellow rattle. The woodland garden and stumpery, which were designed by Isabel and Julian Bannerman, provide a stark contrast to the meadows surrounding the gardens.

8. Rousham Gardens

Rousham Gardens
“Rousham Gardens”, by Jason Ballard, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Many garden designers and horticulturists have cited the Rousham Gardens as being one of, if not the main influence in their designs. The classical timelessness of the Rousham Gardens is a testament to the beauty in simplicity. Designed by William Kent in the 18th century, this garden still stands as one of the most well-preserved examples of garden architecture from that era. Most of the original features are still intact with follies, statuaries, basins, and tunnels. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next garden design, take a visit to the Rousham Gardens. You can never go wrong with a timeless classical design.

9. Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden
“Sissinghurst Castle Garden”, by Derek Harper, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Sissinghurst Castle garden is revered and celebrated as the quintessential English garden. Taking one tour around the grounds of this garden will make any visitor realise why this garden is considered one of the best in the country. It was designed by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson in 1930, and the gardens were transformed into a space for horticulture and various planting schemes. Nine garden rooms make up the main part of the garden and are separated by bricks or hedging. A recent redesign by Dan Pearson added the Delos, a complex and welcome contrast to the already stunning garden.

10. The Oudolf Field, Hauser & Wirth

Oudolf Field
“Oudolf Field”, by Christopher Figge, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Oudolf Field Garden owes its beauty to Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. Surrounding the renowned Hauser & Wirth art gallery, the Oudolf Field became known as one of the most iconic contemporary gardens in recent times. A stark contrast to most gardens that are made up of ‘rooms,’ the Oudolf Field mimics a meadow. The plants and flowers extend far, showing off majestic colour combinations. Visitors flood the field during later summer when the perennials and tall grasses are constantly weaving in and out of each other as they dance to the warm summer breeze.

11. RHS Harlow Carr

RHS Harlow Carr
“RHS Harlow Carr”, by Daderot, licensed under CC0 1.0 DEED

The Harlow Carr garden is an impressive and stunning display of horticulture know-how and botanical prowess. Chosen by the Royal Horticulture Society as their northern flagship, the Harlow Carr garden boasts a diverse collection of different plants, rose gardens, and bulb gardens. It also includes an arboretum, a rockery, and woodlands. You can take a walking tour of the garden to experience the highest level of technical skill the best garden designers can offer. Harlow Carr is located in Harrogate, a small spa town with multiple attractions. The historic town also prides itself in preserving history and culture, and visitors can experience it by visiting the Mercer Art Gallery, the Royal Pump Room Museum, and Betty’s Tearoom.

12. Tintinhull Garden

Tintinhull Garden
“Tintinhull Garden”, by Eugene Birchall, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Behind a stone house in Somerset lies Tintinhull Garden, a small garden perfect for Sunday strolls. The garden gives a rustic and cosy mood with small ponds, secluded ponds, and manicured hedges. If you’re looking for a place to slow down and spend a warm quiet afternoon, Tintinhull Garden is worth a consideration. The Arts & Crafts-style garden was designed by Mrs Phyllis Reiss and is separated into seven distinct garden rooms, bordered by colourful hedges and stone walls.

13. RHS Garden Bridgewater

RHS Garden Bridgewater
“RHS Garden Bridgewater”, by Mike Peel, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

As the Royal Horticultural Society’s fifth and longest-awaited project, Garden Bridgewater is considered the most impressive heritage garden in the whole of the UK. It’s also the first RHS garden built in the middle of an urban area. The 154-acre estate is filled with wild and exotic flowers as well as native and endangered species. Some of the garden’s best features include the UK’s largest Victorian walled garden, the Weston Walled Garden, several orchards and meadows, an arboretum and a lake.

This experimental concept of a horticultural garden built in the middle of a busy urban area is, to some, a controversial decision. Some gardeners maintain that gardens should be built away from the cities, away from the hustle and bustle of vehicles and people, and must have a dedicated space designed specifically for botanical use. Others welcome the idea with open arms, saying a garden of this size helps remind the people in the city to take a break and appreciate the beauty of nature without needing to travel far.

14. Mottisfont

“Mottisfont”, by David Martin, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Spring bulbs, a walled rose garden, an autumn garden, and a winter garden. These are just some of the attractions visitors will find at Mottisfont Gardens. Surrounding an 18th-century house that serves as the estate’s crown attraction, the Mottisfont Gardens is a beautiful display of classical gardening techniques and design. Summer around June is the best time to visit the Mottisfont as the roses will be in full bloom. Families will love the grassy lawns and tree-lined river walk during sunny days as children run and jump around wide-open meadows.

Final Thoughts

Reading about the gardens and arboretums in the UK won’t come close to doing any of these horticultural wonders justice. If you have even the slightest interest in botany and horticulture, we highly recommend you check out at least a few of the gardens mentioned on this list. The level of expertise that goes into creating these landscapes is nothing short of astonishing!

Featured Image: “RHS Harlow Carr”, by Daderot, licensed under CC0 1.0 DEED

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