10 Wild Gardens close to London
With a mantra of ‘working with nature’, this stunning garden and 88-acre working farm is run on biodynamic and organic principles. Any visit is educational and there are many inspirational courses to sign up to. Enjoy a delicious farm-raised meal, in the tea room. Advance booking required.
Church Hill, White Waltham, Berks SL6 3JH. Open: mid-May to Sept – see website for details.
Hidden away in the biodiverse medieval parkland of Sevenoaks rests 600-year-old Knole House. Herds of deer, descendants of those hunted by Henry III, bask among foxgloves and bracken. In the gardens, native orchids thrive in meadows and it’s here you will find the longest wisteria in the country.
High Street, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RP. Open: Park – daily, dawn-dusk; walled garden, Apr-Sept, Tues only, 11am-4pm.
Set in beautiful parkland, the walled gardens are an abundant explosion of perennials, herbs and vegetables – all happily competing for space. There is buzzing medicine garden and the organic vegetable garden leads on to a simple but beautiful nut walk and pond.
Stakescorner Rd, Guildford, Surrey GU3 1HS. Open: May-Sept, Sun-Thu, 11am-5pm.
Walking into this incredible, verdant woodland garden is like walking into a stylish childhood fairy-tale. This is a garden of combined creativity, Anthony Paul, landscape designer creating the leafy backdrop to Hannah’s curation of sculpture. Rent the magical self-catering cottage in the woods.
Black & White Cottage, Standon Lane, Ockley, Surrey RH5 5QR. Open: May-Oct Fri & Sat 11-6pm, Sun & bank holidays 2-5pm.
Nestled in the picturesque rolling Chiltern hills, the organic gardens of 16th-century Greys Court are glorious in spring and summer. Climb up the steep Great Tower and enjoy a rare birds-eye view of the colourful planting and the 100-year-old wisteria walk.
Rotherfield Greys, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 4PG. Open: Daily 10am–5pm (4pm winter).
Marle Places is the life’s work of the owners, glorious wild elements merge effortlessly with bold and creative planting. Roses ramble through specimen trees. Sculptures surprise at every turn and there is a delightful tea room for lunch.
Marle Place Rd, Brenchley, Kent TN12 7HS. Open: Apr-mid Sep daily (except Thu) 11am-5pm.
Rows upon rows of sweet peas, vegetables and cottage garden herbs and flowers were impressive but couldn’t compete with the almost unnatural blues and indigos of the magnificent Delphinum Society collection that is housed here.
Godinton Lane, Ashford, Kent TN23 3BP. Open: Mar-Oct daily 1-6pm.
Even in the rain Kentwell has the air of a lost garden paradise. Vines as thick as an elephant’s leg burst out of the tumbledown vine houses, while roses draped themselves over arched, studded doorways. And all this beauty was displayed against the backdrop of gorgeous, moated Kentwell Hall.
Long Melford, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 9BA. Open various days from mid-Feb to mid-Sept – check website for details.
The gardens of pioneering plantswoman Beth Chatto display a deep understanding of both the local environment and plant ecology. The woodland garden is magical in spring and the nursery is renowned for its special plants.
Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex CO7 7DB. Open: daily 9am-5pm (Sunday 10-5pm); until 4pm in winter.
Wakehurst Place and its secret Loder Valley deserve a full day’s exploration Acres of excellent planting merge into protected and habitat-rich wildflower meadows and ancient forests. Visitors to this special nature reserve are limited to 50 a day but even at the meadows’ floral peak in June we felt as if we had the whole place to ourselves.
Ardingly, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17 6TN. Open: daily, 10am-6pm (4.30pm in winter).
Wild Garden Weekends: Explore the secret gardens, wild meadows and kitchen garden cafés of Britain by Tania Pascoe (wildthingspublishing.com, £16.99) is available from all good bookshops.
To get 25% off and buy Wild Gardens Weekends for just £12.75 (instead of £16.99), including free delivery, go to www.wildthingspublishing.com and enter ‘Wild Garden Weekends’ as your coupon code.
Main image credit: JTB Photo/ Contributor