Best spring gardens in the UK

Sunshine on your face, the scent of blossom in the air, the dreamy song of a blackbird. What better way to while away a spring day than in an idyllic country garden? Here are 10 of the best

Gardens showing mixed deciduous and evergreen trees, English bluebells and rhododendrons in May
Published: February 28th, 2022 at 6:14 am

In recent years, much has been written about the restorative power of gardens and the great outdoors to positively influence our mental and physical wellbeing.  

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These beneficial properties may be most pronounced in springtime. After winter’s short, dank and drear days, the rush of green growth heralded by spring and the accompanying buzz of wildlife suddenly spurred into action is incomparable.

While springtime gardens may lack summer’s flower-power, they offer a quickening and scale that is unmatched. Spring bulbs form vast carpets under the dappled shade of fresh, lime-green tree foliage. Herbaceous perennials grow like teenagers, often with lustrous foliage colour. Blossom trees – including beautifully fragrant cherry, almond, plum and apple – provide early pollen and nectar for foraging bees.

The vibrancy and pace of spring is what makes it such a special season, and a wonderful time to visit gardens – here are 10 of the UK's best.

10 glorious gardens to visit this spring

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

Near Kendal, Cumbria. Open daily.

Daffodils in country garden
Discover Sizergh Castle's daffodil blooms/The National Trust Photolibrary, Alamy

Wordsworth waxed lyrical about the native wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus and, when naturalised as they are here and spreading as far as the eye can see, it is easy to understand why. The Limestone Rock Garden is a wonder of jewel-like alpine plants and fresh foliaged Japanese acers, while a great café serves local produce, too. 01539 560951, nationaltrust.org.uk/sizergh


Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Aylsham, Norfolk. Open daily.

Spring flowers beside a country house
Blickling Estate's double borders flush with pinks and purples in spring/Credit: Justin Minns, National Trust Images

Spring is a stand-out season at the gardens of this wonderful Jacobean stately home. The Temple Walk is generously planted with rhododendron and azalea, there are mature magnolia through the gardens, and tulips by the thousand in the formal beds. Daffodils stretch seemingly for miles in early spring, followed by similarly expansive bluebells. 01263 738030, nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate


The Savill Garden, Surrey

Egham, Surrey. Open daily. 

Spring gardens
Savill Gardens in Windsor Great Park Windsor Berkshire/Credit: Lucy Levenson, Alamy

Part of the Windsor Great Park estate, with one of the country’s finest plant collections. Aptly named Spring Wood is planted with mature specimens of magnolia and rhododendron, including many Loderi hybrids, the flowers of which are deliciously scented, while the Azalea Walk is at its peak in mid to late May. Brilliant for families, with a great café, too. windsorgreatpark.co.uk/en


The Himalayan Garden, North Yorkshire

Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire. Open daily from 12 April.

Spring garden
The walled garden adjacent to the main house at the Himalayan Garden/Credit: Paul Buckingham, Geograph

Set in a valley between Harrogate and Ripon, this garden features hundreds of native Himalayan plants in a setting that is perhaps as close as you can get to being in an actual Himalayan valley – especially on a misty morning. Many of the rhododendrons are wild species, collected and grown from seed and now in their mature prime. 01765 658009, himalayangarden.com


Great Comp, Kent

Near Sevenoaks, Kent. Open daily from 1 March. 

Spring gardens
Camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias steal the show in spring at Great Comp/Credit: Plantography, Alamy

Located on the greensand ridge, a geological feature, this 2.8-hectare garden’s acid soils allow camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias to thrive, alongside huge drifts of tulips, daffodils and muscari. Roderick and Joy Cameron began creating the Italianate garden in 1957, opening to the public a decade later. The spring plant fair is not to be missed. 01732 885094, greatcompgarden.co.uk


Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Near Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Open daily.

Bluebells flowering in parkland
Bluebells flowering in the parkland of Clumber Park/Credit: James Dobson, National Trust Images

The once-great stately home has long gone but the walled garden remains, and in spring is alive with tulips, the blossom of wall-trained fruit trees and fresh rhubarb. Outside the walled garden, new bulb plantings augment the 80,000 bulbs planted beneath the Cedar Avenue. 01909 476592, nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park


Bowood Woodland Garden, Wiltshire

Near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Open April to June.

Gardens showing mixed deciduous and evergreen trees, English bluebells and rhododendrons in May
Spring in Bowood's woodland garden delivers a mixed deciduous and evergreen trees alongside English bluebells and rhododendrons/Credit: garfotos, Alamy

With two miles of footpaths over 12 hectares, the Woodland Garden has an extensive collection of rhododendrons and azaleas in a carpet of bluebells. It opens for only six weeks of the year in spring, when the plant collections are at their peak. A trip to it dovetails nicely into a visit to the main gardens and stately home of Bowood House next door. 01249 812102, bowood.org


Arduaine Garden, Argyll

Near Oban, Argyll. Open daily from 1 April. 

Spring garden
Look for stands of primula and iris at Arduaine Garden/Credit: National Trust for Scotland

Set on Scotland’s west coast amid stunning scenery, this beautiful garden benefits from the benign influence of the Gulf Stream. Now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, the historic garden featured over 200 rhododendrons by the 1920s, which are still spring highlights, as are stands of primula and iris. But the real stars are the glades of iridescent blue Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis species) – jaw-droppingly beautiful. 01852 200366, nts.org.uk/visit/places/arduaine-garden


Bodnant Garden, Clwyd

Near Colwyn Bay, Clwyd. Open daily. 

Spring gardens
Explore Bodnant Gardens' national collections of magnolia and rhododendron/Credit: Rod Kirkpatrick, National Trust Images

Rightly considered one of the UK’s finest gardens, Bodnant springs to life with pools of daffodils in Old Park Meadow, along with national collections of magnolia and rhododendron. Extensive plantings of cherry and viburnum fill the garden with fragrance in mid-spring, alongside plentiful bluebells. For three weeks from mid-May, the famous Laburnum Arch, a long pergola walkway, drips with golden-yellow flowers, and alone is worth a visit to experience it. 01492 650460, nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden


Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim

Ballymena, Co. Antrim. Open from March. 

Wild garlic
Walk among a sea of frothy wild garlic flowers/Credit: Getty
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Another garden benefitting from coastal microclimates, Glenarm is known for its beautiful walled garden, once crammed with edibles, now bursting with colour from herbaceous borders. Yew hedges form green corridors, framing views to babbling fountains and glades of specimen trees. An area of mature woodland reopens in 2022, with the Woodland Walk featuring plantings of mature camellia and rhododendron, beneath which a sea of frothy wild garlic flowers creates a pungent understorey. 02828 841203, glenarmcastle.com 

Authors

Matthew Wilson is a garden designer and a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time.

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