Top public gardens you should visit in Spring or Summer

Spring is an exciting time for gardeners as the whole garden suddenly bursts back into life. Each year it’s a season full of potential, like the blank canvas of what to do with your garden as the year stretches ahead of you.

Surely as our gardens slowly awaken, there’s no more delightful way to get some inspiration and blow away the winter cobwebs than to spend some time looking around some of our wonderful public gardens. So here are our top 5 recommendations for wherever you are in the UK:

RHS Garden Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire

There’s something to inspire you at RHS Garden Harlow Carr all year round with their Alpine House, Kitchen Garden and Streamside Garden. There are 68 acres to explore which include water, woodland and wildflower meadows and it’s open all year round. This year will see the first flowers of the 30,000 bluebells that were planted last year, part of an ongoing project and you can also enjoy the primulas, irises, hostas, ferns, astilbes and stunning Himalayan blue poppies.

If all of that wasn’t enough to get you armed with your spade ready to start your garden design, the Kitchen Garden is not only a testament to re-cycling (look closely at those raised beds) but will fill you with ideas for everything from climbing vegetables to herb planting.

Pashley Manor Gardens, East Sussex

Pashley Manor describes itself as one of the finest gardens in England and treats you to “sweeping herbaceous borders, elegant rose and historic walled gardens, the productive kitchen garden, enchanting woodland paths…” It opens from April to September Tuesday to Saturday but also runs a series of special events.

One of the most compelling times to visit has to be for the tulip festival from late April to early May when you’ll be left dazzled by the 30,000 tulips in every corner and in every colour, shape and size. If the sculpture is your thing, Pashley Manor also displays a number of sculptures by both well-known and local artists.

The Garden House, Devon

For a touch of romance and a lot of colour, you’ll love The Garden House. Set in 10 acres, The Garden House is made up of a series of different gardens each an absolute delight in their own right. The first of the year to flower is the Bulb Garden where you’ll find carpets of snowdrops, cyclamen and irises right through to daffodils.

You’ll also find a Rhododendron Walk, a Wisteria Bridge and a newly planted Summer Garden with geraniums, geums, wild grasses, echinacea and more. That’s not forgetting the Acer Glades, Wildflower Gardens and Cottage Garden.

There are over 6,000 different plant varieties here and they run a series of events throughout the year which include everything from gardening presentations to art classes.

The Dorothy Clive Garden, Shropshire

This informal, hillside English country garden will treat you to colour and variety throughout the year but one of the highlights has to be its spring flowering displays. Best visited in May you’ll be delighted by rhododendrons, azaleas, laburnums and alliums. It’s a 12-acre garden planted as recently as the 1940s and 50s and it also runs a series of ongoing events to enjoy.

You can plan your visit to the Dorothy Clive Garden here using their monthly plant calendar of what you can expect to find and enjoy, all of which includes a woodland walk, a waterfall, a rose walk and much else.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London

Always a treat to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, this year if you hurry you can just catch the end of their Orchid Festival which runs from February into early March and promises to be a feast of tropical colour and includes a whole myriad of displays and events.

But if you don’t make that, then make sure you join one of their Spring Awakening Walks which run throughout March and April and which includes a guided tour around the blossoming plants and some of their spring highlights.

NGS Gardens, nationwide

NGS gardens are private gardens that are based all over the UK. They are opened to the public to raise money for charity and they offer stunning views for a great cause. If you are interested in showing your support you can find a garden near you on their website.

Start planning your trips

There are dozens if not hundreds of public gardens for you to explore this spring and summer, all of which are sure to inspire and enthral you. 

Related articles