10 English Countryside Gardens to Explore this Spring

The heady scent of hyacinths. Leaves unfurling. Buds in bloom. It can only mean one thing: spring has sprung.

Pack a picnic and go in search of romantic topiary, the stateliest 18th-century gardens and exacting urban flower beds in these beautiful gardens.

thingstodo

Chelsea Physic Gardens

London

Founded in 1673 as the Apothecaries’ Garden and situated close to the River Thames for optimum climate, this oasis was set up to train apprentices and identify plants. Despite being home to over 5,000 different edible, useful and medicinal plants (many of which have changed the world), it is often overlooked by busy Londoners. Visit for educational ambling.

Address

66 Royal Hospital Road Chelsea London SW3 4HS

thingstodo

Petersham Nurseries

Richmond

In 1997, Gael and Francesco Boglione moved from central London to Petersham House in Richmond, where their new home overlooked a local plant nursery. Today, the nursery is an internationally prized garden centre and seedbed of inspiration. Renowned for organic gardening, culinary excellence and sustainable sourcing, a trip to Petersham Nurseries is always a varied experience. Enjoy a three-course meal at the glasshouse restaurant or go for homemade cakes in the teahouse before browsing the nursery and scouting out the shop.

Address

Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Richmond Surrey, TW10 7AB

thingstodo

Chatsworth House

Bakewell

This regal house and garden was built for Sir William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick in 1555. Famous for its waterworks and sculptures, Victorian rock garden and labyrinthine maze, the 105-acre garden is quite a site to behold. It’s no surprise, then, that the house was featured as Pemberley in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice – and retains all the pomp and charm of its fictional proprietor Mr. Darcy.

Address

Bakewell Derbyshire DE45 1PP

thingstodo

Glendurgan Garden

Cornwall

This sub-tropical garden is a little patch of paradise in Cornwall. Glendurgan’s history stretches back to 1820 when the valley was purchased by Alfred Fox; in 1833 he developed the famous laurel maze. Blooming with magnolias, wildflowers, woodland flora and exotic trees, the gardens are at their best in the spring. Continue your explorations beyond the garden and follow the external path that leads down to Durgan Beach and the Helford River.

Address

Glendurgan Falmouth Cornwall TR11 5JZ

thingstodo

Blickling Estate

Blickling

In spring, tiptoe through the carpet of dainty English bluebells and follow the winding paths through the great wood before reaching rows of hellebores, daffodils and rhododendron. The formal garden is the result of three centuries of inspired planting, with wisteria and peonies marking the garden’s perimeter. Grab a waymarked map and head out into the 500 acres of parkland and woods.

Address

Blickling Aylsham Norfolk NR11 6NF

thingstodo

Anglesey Abbey

Cambridge

With majestic avenues and sprawling formal gardens, the grounds at Anglesey Abbey are some of the grandest in England. Each season offers a different highlight, from snowdrops and spring bulbs (including magnificent displays of hyacinths in the formal garden and tulips in the Himalayan silver-birch grove) to the sweeping herbaceous border and English rose garden in summer. Late arrivals will enjoy colourful dahlias in September.

Address

Quy Road Lode Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB25 9EJ

thingstodo

Kew Gardens

Richmond

This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 1759, making it one of the oldest botanic gardens in the UK. Head to the treetop walkway 59 feet above the ground, where you can wander among lime, sweet chestnut and oak trees while admiring the magical glasshouses, stately buildings and beds of orchids that fill the gardens below.

Address

Richmond TW9 3AE

thingstodo

Nuffield Place

Nuffield

From 1933 to 1963, Nuffield Place belonged to William Morris (Lord Nuffield) the founder of Morris Motors. Most of the garden – including the rose pergola, rock garden, yew hedges and many of the trees – remains as it was during Morris’s lifetime, making for an idyllic and nostalgia-laden outing.

Address

Bradley Road Nuffield Huntercombe RG9 5RY

thingstodo

Levens Hall

Kendal

Famous for its 17th-century topiary gardens – with some pieces over nine metres high – designed by Monsieur Beaumont in 1694, Levens Hall is a maze-like, surrealist garden. Get lost amid geometric and abstract shapes like the Howard Lion, Queen Elizabeth and four peacocks, before retiring to the nearby tea rooms.

Address

Levens Hall Kendal Cumbria LA8 0PD

thingstodo

Eden Project

Cornwall

Formerly a sterile clay mine, the Eden Project is now a vibrant global garden, brimming with plants and sculptures, The 35-acre site is a shrine to ingenuity – its world-famous geodesic domes are filled with thousands of plants and trees, recreating the environmental conditions of both a rainforest and the Mediterranean. See olive groves and lemon trees in the Mediterranean biome, then explore the outdoor gardens to see gorgeous native blooms and learn all about the uses of plants.

Address

Bodelva Cornwall PL24 2SG