The United Kingdom is a country of passionate gardeners, with hundreds of open gardens every year.

Gardens to see and visit in the United Kingdom range from large estate and castle gardens, to small town gardens, public allotment gardens and superb botanical gardens, including the world renown Kew Gardens in London and the Edinburgh Botanics. The Royal Horticultural Society has several large gardens open throughout the year and also manages hundreds of private residential garden openings around England and Wales.

Local guide in this country

Garden Travel Guide to the United Kingdom


From Scotland’s woodland gardens to the formal and perennial gardens of southern England, historic castle gardens, picturesque vista gardens and quirky contemporary gardens the United Kingdom has something to enthrall every garden lover in every season. In spring you can see colourful spring bulb gardens and, in summer there are gardens filled with showy high summer perennials to stroll through. Come autumn/fall, vibrant tree colours are reflected across lakes and ornamental ponds and winter’s open gardens reveal elegant clipped conifer and box parterres.


Garden History in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s long love-affair with gardening begins with new plant introductions like the periwinkle even before Roman times, however the first evidence of purpose-built gardens dates from the medieval era, with monastic gardens of herbs, and contemplative cloister gardens. By the early 16th century, Henry VIII and his court were spending large sums on pleasure gardens around their huge country estates. The gardens at Richmond and Hampton Court date from this period and were laid out in formal French and Italian style.

By the mid 17th century, exploration through Africa and Asia, and to the New World saw an explosion of plant collecting and importing of new plants into Britain which were used in the intricate and formal Italianate gardens that were popular during this time, with grottos, parterres, elaborate fountains and many statues.

However by the early 18th century, there was a quintessentially English backlash against the huge scale and strict formality of these gardens, with new designers such as Kent, Rousham, the famous ‘Capability’ Brown and, later Repton ushering in a new era of natural style landscapes, with picturesque vistas across lakes, copses of trees, romantic follies and rolling lawns.

By the 19th century, garden fashions had turned again and the new ‘gardenesque’ style of Loudon, with its specimen plantings, shrubberies, unusual plant combinations and patterns of colourful bedding plants took hold.

A new naturalistic movement was an inevitable result with many of the England’s most famous Arts and Crafts gardens by Jekyll, Sackville-West and Johnston dating from the early 20th century, with their flower meadows and long, mixed-perennial borders kept more orderly in ‘garden rooms’ by dividing hedges and clipped topiary. In northern Scotland, the garden at Crathes Castle is another famous Arts and Crafts garden.

By the late 20th century, in residential gardens, the practical gardens of vegetables and herbs were overtaken by the cottage garden style, with mixed planting of perennials, roses and flowering climbers. However a growing awareness of working with the soil and climate rather than always seeking to improve them saw new gardening styles championed by gardeners such Beth Chatto in her dry gravel garden in Essex. And at Great Dixter, Christopher Lloyd turned all the tried-and-true plant combinations that gardeners thought they knew on their heads.

In much of the cooler and wetter parts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland, woodland gardens with large collections of rhododendrons and flowering shrubs, conifers, naturalised bulbs and ferns were developed, and are still popular today.

In Ireland and the south-west coast of England and north-west Scotland, the warmer and wetter climate meant that gardeners could experiment with collections of exotic plants from places like Australia, Africa and even tropical climates, such as in the Inverewe garden in north-west Scotland.


Garden styles in the United Kingdom

Perhaps as a response to its many days of dull, overcast skies, gardens throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland are still dominated by flowers, with laburnum walks, wisteria arches, rose gardens, perennial borders, and pots of colourful annuals.

However it is also a place of great garden design experimentation, as seen in the show gardens of Chelsea and Hampton Court and the 21st century gardens of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation and Little Sparta in Scotland.

British designers like Dan Pearson, Christopher Bradley-Hole, Tom Stuart-Smith and Andy Sturgeon are strongly influencing garden design around the world with new naturalistic plantings of delicate native plants and pared-back hardscapes featuring natural stone.


Gardens to visit in the United Kingdom


Gardens to visit in England

See Garden Guide to England (under construction)


Gardens to visit in Scotland

See Garden Guide to Scotland


Garden to visit in Wales


Northern Wales

Powis Castle and Gardens, Welshpool (National Trust garden)

Bodrhyddan, Denbighshire

Bodnant Garden, Conwy (National Trust garden)

Bodysgallen Hall, Conwy

Erddig Garden, Wrexham (National Trust garden)

Plas Newydd Country House, Anglesey (National Trust garden)

Plas Yn Rhiw, Pwllheli, Gwynedd

The Dingle Garden, Welshpool


Southern Wales

Veddw House, Devauden

Penpergwm Lodge Gardens, Abergavenny

Colby Woodland Garden, Amroth (National Trust garden)

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanartheney

Tredegar House and Park (National Trust garden)

Diffryn Botanic Garden

Parc Taf Bargoed, Trelewis

Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthen

Llanerchaeron (National Trust garden)

Singleton Park and Swansea Botanic Gardens

Clyne Gardens, Swansea


Gardens to visit in Northern Ireland


Belfast and eastern Northern Ireland

Mount Stewart

Bellfast Botanic Gardens

Antrim Castle Gardens

Ballyrobert Gardens and Nursery – March to October

Kilcoan Gardens

Glenarm Castle Walled Gardens

Rowallane Garden (National Trust garden)

Seaforde Gardens

Castlewellan Forest Park and Peace Maze

Bangor Castle Walled Garden

Joymount Presbyterian Church Jacobean Knot Garden, Carrickfergus


Londonderry and north-west Northern Ireland

Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple

Brook Hall Estate and Arboretum


Amargh, Enniskillen and southern Northern Ireland

The Argory (National Trust garden)

Tully Castle


Northern Ireland private open gardens: see the National Trust Ulster Gardens Scheme


United Kingdom garden shows, festival and fairs



RHS Chelsea Flower Show – late May

Chelsea Fringe Festival – May-June

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – early July

RHS Tatton Park Flower Show – late July

BBC Gardeners’ World, Birmingham- late June

London’s Open Garden Squares – mid June

RHS Malvern Spring and Autumn Shows

Blenheim Palace Flower Show, Oxfordshire – mid June

Essex Flower Show – early June

Suffolk Flower Show – late March

Newbury Flower Show, Berkshire – early April

Newark Flower Show, Nottinghamshire – late April

National Flower Show, Hylands House, Essex – late May



Gardening Scotland – early June

Ayr Flower Show, Ayrshire – early August



RHS Flower Show Cardiff

Royal Welsh Spring Festival, Powys – late May


Northern Ireland

Garden Show Ireland, Antrim – early May


Chelsea Flower Show goes on

Steven Wells

There is just so much to take in at the Chelsea Flower Show. So here is some more of the fun, fashion, flowers, fascination and fantastic gardens that makes Chelsea so special.

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Steven Wells

On a glorious, sunny spring day in London the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show delivers again. The pinnacle of horticultural endeavours and exhibitors were on display and I was certainly impressed by the gardens on show.

Book Review: Great Gardens of London

Helen Young

I’ve offered to write a review of this book, simply because I enjoyed it. Such books don’t always live up their hype but this is one I’m happy to add […]

Book Review: ‘Lessons from Great Gardeners’


‘Lessons from Great Gardeners’ is an inviting book, profiling 40 ‘gardening icons’ – gardeners and garden designers. You will respond to their creative ideas and their passion for gardens, and learn from them.

Which gardens make your heart sing?

Janna Schreier

When I first took an interest in garden design, it was all about the look. Some combination of colours, textures and forms would jump out at me from a page […]

Henry James and his Lamb House garden

Susannah Fullerton

“I am hopeless about the garden, which I don’t know what to do with and shall never, never know – I am densely ignorant,” said Henry James, whose garden at Lamb House was both refuge and inspiration.

Chelsea 2015: 10 things that caught my eye

Helen Young

What caught my eye at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015? From moss-covered lampshades to colourful potatoes and a must-have shell-covered pig seat, there really was something for everyone.

Chelsea 2015 Fresh: World Vision Garden

Helen Young

One of the Chelsea Flower Show 2015 gardens in the Fresh category that I loved was the ‘World Vision Garden: Grow Hope’, inspired by the beauty of Cambodia. It won a silver-gilt medal for

London’s ‘Sloane in Bloom’ 2015

Helen Young

In Sloane Square close to London’s Chelsea Flower Show, retailers compete annually in ‘Sloane in Bloom’, dressing their shops with glorious floral displays, this year themed ‘Fairytales’.

The Brontës and their garden

Susannah Fullerton

“There is not a knoll of heather, not a branch of fern, not a young bilberry leaf, not a fluttering lark or linnet, but reminds me of her” wrote Charlotte Brontë, of sister Emily after her death.

Sir Walter Scott and his Abbotsford garden

Susannah Fullerton

In 1811 Sir Walter Scott bought a small farm on the Tweed River in Scotland where he built the Scottish Baronial-styled ‘Abbotsford’, surrounded by gardens and picturesque grounds.

Garden oddities – floral clocks

Silas Clifford-Smith

One of the horticultural oddities of the last century is the floral clock. A curious landscape design practice of the 20th C., floral clocks have a history that dates back to the 18th century.

Great Dixter: a manic masterpiece

Angus Stewart

I have long been fascinated by the work of the late British garden designer Christopher Lloyd. So it was with great anticipation that I recently visited his Great Dixter garden […]

Wordsworth’s outdoor office at Rydal Mount

Susannah Fullerton

Wordsworth is of course familiar to all as one of the greatest of English poets, founder of the Romantic movement and Poet Laureate. What is less well known is that […]

Orchid fever

Ros Andrews

As a first time visitor to the Chelsea Flower Show in late May, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So much to see in such a short […]

The floating gardens of London

Paul Urquhart

Twice a year, a unique barge community of barge gardens floating on the Thames is opened to the public to raise money for charity. Known as the Downings Road Moorings […]

War and Peace

Julie Thomson

On a day when all manner of people turned out to publicly and conspicuously commemorate ANZAC Day, marching, singing, praying, dressing up in uniform, waving flags, wearing medals, beating drums, […]

Xylothek – a touching, reading adventure

Bernhard Feistel

As we can read in this forum or elsewhere, gardening from a distance is far from easy, if not mad; awkward to plan and yet full of surprises. Last week […]

A Year (or two) in Kew

Tim Entwisle

As I prepare to leave London this week, I thought I’d reflect a little on my nearly two years at Kew, how I got here and why I’m leaving. A […]

Giant squill is simply delightful, Madeira

Tim Entwisle

No I haven’t been to Madeira. But according to Greg Redwood, one of my colleagues here at Kew, I should go there rather than to (mainland) Portugal. This was in […]

Nature’s leaf rainbow

Matthew Popplewell

Having returned from a whirlwind tour of the UK, few places could have left a more lasting impression than the wondrous colourful transition of the leaves and progression into a […]

The James Bond garden tour

Tammy Schmitt

I recently popped over to Plant Postings to read about the amazing garden tour of Italy Beth is planning for herself and other bloggers. I just returned from a garden tour […]

Chelsea 2012 review & retrospective

Paul Urquhart

Sometimes it is hard to crystallise your thoughts about an event especially when there is so much visual white noise around. I found that after visiting Chelsea 2012. I have […]

Real, or not? Dubai, Chelsea & Aalsmeer

Helen Young

Some things you see when you’re travelling are amusing or thought provoking, and it’s nice to have a blog like this to share them. I’m very lucky to lead a […]

Ancient Parisian acacia has a crise d’identité

Tim Entwisle

Well at last I’m really ‘talking plants’. As regular readers know, Talking Plants ( is a blog devoted to plants and gardens, with an eye for the quirky or scientific, or […]

Garden Stay

Millgate House, Yorkshire

When: Available on demand/by appointment

Countries: United Kingdom - Yorkshire

Highlights: Rise from a great night's sleep and look out over the sheltered, walled garden. After a delicious breakfast, wander on...