Best gardens, nature reserves and country estates in the East Midlands

The BBC Gardeners’ World presenter shares his favourite places to visit for plant lovers in the East Midlands, from a country estate filled with ancient oaks to a nature reserve teeming with wild flowers

Bluebell woods
Published: April 17th, 2022 at 6:35 pm

Born in Essex, garden designer and BBC Gardeners' World presenter Adam Frost moved to Lincolnshire aged 21 to work with the late, great Geoff Hamilton at Barnsdale Gardens over the border in Rutland.

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Since then, Adam has fallen in love with his adopted county: "Lincolnshire is a gem. It’s huge – the diversity of its landscape is incredible. There’s Stamford in the south, a beautiful limestone market town, then across the Fens with big skies and up into the Wolds. Then there’s Lincoln and the coastline... it doesn’t get enough fanfare.”

Doing his bit to showcase his home region, Adam shares his favourite places to visit in the East Midlands, from poet John Clare's dreamy cottage to a wildflower-filled nature reserve.


John Clare Cottage, Peterborough

John Clare Cottage
John Clare Cottage, Helpston, Peterborough. Credit: Getty

“Poet John Clare (1793–1864) is one of my heroes,” says Adam. “Helpston is a couple of villages on from me, and I love the walks from Clare’s Cottage. They give you a taste of Lincolnshire – it’s a good place to start to explore the county.”

You can visit John Clare Cottage on Mondays and Thursdays, 10am to 3pm.

Ponies grazing coastal grasslands

Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire

Ancient oak trees
Ancient oaks at Burghley House on the Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire border. Credit: Getty

“I love the grounds at Burghley House… some of those oaks and horse chestnuts,” says Adam. “As sad as this is, I take photos up-close of trees, or take time looking around a tree’s diameter, enjoying encounters with nature.”

Burghley House is open to visitors daily (excluding Fridays), 10.30am to 4.30pm. The gardens are open daily, 10.30am to 5pm.


Easton Walled Garden, near Grantham, Lincolnshire

Easton Walled Gardens
Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire. Credit: Getty

This 450-year-old garden – with its yew tunnel, long borders, rose meadows, woodland and orchard – is revered in the gardening world. “Spending time there is lovely,” says Adam.

Easton Walled Gardens are open to visitors from mid-February to the end of September, Wednesdays to Sundays, 11am to 4pm.


Barnack Hills and Holes Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire

Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve
Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire. Credit: Getty

The site of a medieval quarry, this wildflower-strewn area is now a national nature reserve, described by the Woodland Trust as “one of Britain’s most important wildlife sites”.

Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve is open to visitors all year round.


Lincolnshire woodlands

Bluebell woods
Bluebells in Brumby Wood, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. Credit: Alamy

“The Lincolnshire countryside and coastline are stunning,” says Adam, “but it’s freezing when the wind comes in! I’m a sucker for woods and their sense of shelter. To be in a wood and the only person there – that’s near-paradise. I’d live and die in a wood. I like the calmness they provide.”

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Find out more about Lincolnshire's woodlands at Explore Lincolnshire.


Adam Frost's new book, RHS The Creative Gardener, is published by DK; £25

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