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Step Inside 12 of England's Most Beautiful Gardens

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Wed, 17 Aug 2016 11:15:00 +0000
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<p><em>This story originally appeared on <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/nature-travel/best-english-gardens#wimpole-estate?xid=PS_smithsonian" target="_blank">Travel + Leisure</a>.</em></p><p>There’s something nerdy (and kind of adorable) about England’s centuries-old fascination with—and subsequent mastery of—gardening. “It’s certainly true to say that we love plants,” admits Mike Calnan, the Head of Gardens at the <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/staying-at-a-british-national-trust-estate?xid=PS_smithsonian" target="_blank">National Trust</a>, which maintains over 300 historically significant houses and gardens throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. </p><div><div id="ad_5x5_1"><div id="tl_3"><div id="google_ads_iframe_/8484/tl/vertical_gallery_2__container__">American horticulture enthusiasts are catching on, with many making it a <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/how-to-tend-an-english-garden?xid=PS_smithsonian" target="_blank">primary reason</a> for traveling to the U.K. In fact, gardens have become so popular that 2016 was officially declared the Year of the English Garden. If you’re wondering exactly where to go to experience the country’s brightest flower borders, most eye-catching topiary, and stateliest 18th-century gardens, then you’re in luck. Read on for our top picks.‬‬</div><div><h2>Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire‬</h2></div></div></div></div> <p> Image by Smabs Sputzer via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/highlights6/14337410686/in/photostream/">Highlights6/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Smabs Sputzer via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/highlights6/14387922492/in/photostream/">Highlights6/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/highlights6/14373877476/in/photostream/">Highlights6/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Esther Westerveld via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Esther Westerveld via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/highlights6/14402731002/in/photostream/">Highlights6/Flickr</a>. Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire‬ <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>This <a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/biddulph-grange-garden" target="_blank">unique garden</a> was the brainchild of wealthy British landowner—and avid traveler—James Bateman, who attempted to recreate some of the faraway landscapes he visited in the 19th-century. Today, you can still pass through a series of exotic displays, like an Egyptian tomb-inspired passage guarded by a pair of sphinx. In the intimate China Garden, a red pagoda looms over the pond with carved wooden bridges, bamboo, and the oldest surviving golden larch in Britain (a type of conifer tree, brought from China in the 1850s).‬‬</p><h2>Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/homemadewebsites/28218801842/in/photostream/">Amateur with a Camera/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/homemadewebsites/28219086832/">Amateur with a Camera/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/homemadewebsites/27706210974/in/photostream/">Amateur with a Camera/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/homemadewebsites/28218618662/in/photostream/">Amateur with a Camera/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/arg_flickr/14548741624/">Andrew/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fylin624/3757608192/">Sherry Lin/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Andrew Stawarz via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/homemadewebsites/27706786183/in/photostream/">Amateur with a Camera/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>How does a green patch of land get promoted from humble garden to coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site? By also being home to spectacular monastic ruins, a medieval deer park, and views across neighboring River Skell. This <a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey-and-studley-royal-water-garden" target="_blank">Georgian-era water garden</a> amazes visitors with its beautiful serene lakes, neo-classical temples, and stone statuary.‬‬</p><h2>Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/clicks2006/9685212319/in/photostream/">Clive/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/clicks2006/9688450818/in/photostream/">Clive/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/clicks2006/9688442130/in/photostream/">Clive/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Dave Catchpole via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Glen Bowman via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Karen Roe via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Dave Catchpole via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by JR P via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>Step back in time at this <a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote" target="_blank">17th-century manor house</a>, where doorways reveal a succession of intricate and distinctive mini gardens. The effect is a bit like walking through the maze in Alice in Wonderland—meandering stone paths, bright pockets of flowers, deep green lawns, a glasshouse, and an orchard all call out for exploration. You never know quite what you’ll stumble on next—and that’s part of its allure.‬‬</p><h2>Sizergh, Cumbria‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/22087304@N07/5193318456/">P&amp;P photo/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/damiavos/5727610243/">Damian Entwistle/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by xlibber via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Bob the Lomond via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Paul Alex Reed via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>Located on the edge of England’s pastoral Lake District, this <a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sizergh" target="_blank">medieval fortified home</a> opens onto 1,600 acres that are perfect for road tripping families: there’s a 1.5-mile long “Wild Trail” with obstacles, rope swings, and hidden animal sculptures. Along with the surrounding orchards and formal Dutch gardens, the castle is best known for its limestone rock garden, a moss-covered paradise fed by trickling streams and pools, containing over 200 species of conifer and fern.</p><h2>Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire‬</h2> <p> Image by Karen Roe via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Karen Roe via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Karen Roe via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Karen Roe via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p><a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate" target="_blank">Wimpole</a> is the height of English country pomp and splendor, a turreted red brick mansion surrounded by meticulously cultivated grounds, with rolling farmland, sweeping gravel walkways and vibrant flowerbeds. Beyond the farm itself (where youngsters can get acquainted with baby pigs, and even try milking a cow), the 12-acres burst to life each summer with floral displays—think tulips, daisies and foxtail lilies—in the thousands. There’s also a separate 18th-century walled garden that supplies veggies to the on-site restaurant.‬‬</p><h2>Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-image/14913293839/in/photostream/">Image_Less_Ordinary/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-image/15096926251/in/photostream/">Image_Less_Ordinary/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-image/15077000846/in/photostream/">Image_Less_Ordinary/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-image/15099873765/">Image_Less_Ordinary/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/9796108@N07/3808845723/">Uglix</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by ReflectedSerendipity via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Hannah Hawke via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Alistair Young via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>This <a href="http://heligan.com/" target="_blank">once-abandoned garden</a> was restored in the 1990s after decades of overgrowth and is now one of the premiere botanical destinations in England. The 200-acre plot is filled with enchanting grottoes, jungle walks (which feature tropical plants not normally associated with this part of the world, like banana and palm trees), a collection of lakes, and a farm full of cows, sheep, ducks, and geese.</p><h2>Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/susan_g/8051002194/">Roger Bunting</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Derek Winterburn via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Hannah and Simon via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by deedsofthedanes via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Sarah Horrigan via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>Thousands of visitors show up annually to <a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park" target="_blank">this historic estate</a>, but it’s big enough—over 3,800 acres, to be exact—that its wooded trails and grassy meadows never really feel crowded. Near the entrance, a majestic avenue of lime trees claims to be the longest in all of Europe, and at the park’s center, a winding lake that spans four miles is a prime spot for picnics and bird watching. A four-acre walled garden, bursting with California poppies, a large greenhouse, and a variety of fruits and vegetables (many of which are used at the adjacent café) is another highlight.‬‬</p><h2>Leeds Castle, Kent‬</h2><figure> <img alt="" src="https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/1i1ygrRWiGpXp8klTcmVPOeQHBY=/800x0/filters:no_upscale()/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/87/0b/870bcfa6-f78d-421d-b2b1-2b1f9b03c38b/leads-castle-gardens.jpg"></figure><figcaption class="caption"> Leeds Castle with surrounding moat. <span class="credits">(Stockcam/iStock)</span> </figcaption><p>This 1,000-year-old <a href="http://www.leeds-castle.com/" target="_blank">Norman castle</a> (and former palace of Henry VIII) includes the Culpepper Garden, where the original occupants grew squash and tomatoes back in the 1600s. There’s also the Wood Garden, where daffodils and narcissi bloom along the river.</p><h2>Sheffield Park, East Sussex‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/netnicholls/15958871496/">David Nicholls</a>. Sheffield Park Garden <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by a href="<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/netnicholls/15321046083/in/photostream/">https://www.flickr.com/photos/netnicholls/15321046083/in/photostream/</a>"&gt;David Nicholls. Swans swim in Sheffield Park Garden. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/simon_ingram/26800479962/">Simon Ingram</a>. Sheffield Park Garden <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>If you’re en route to Brighton from London, consider a stop at this peaceful, <a href="http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden" target="_blank">18th-century estate garden</a>. The exotic and rare trees make it a top pick for families, who spend entire afternoons wandering the Ringwood Toll, which offers sights of burly Giant Sequoias, Great Oaks, and other (less giant) branches for climbing. Painters and photographers, plan on visiting in late summer and fall when an explosion of color transforms the five foliage-rimmed lakes into great rings of fire.</p><h2>Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent‬</h2> <p> Image by Gordon Bell Photography/iStock. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/westher/8841243273/">Esther Westerveld/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/avdleeuw/7285445312/">Ard van der Leeuw/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/westher/8841225933/">Esther Westerveld/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by JR P via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by JR P via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by Dongyi Liu via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by TheDavePhotoAlbum via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cokeeorg/1017940982/">Dongyi Liu/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>This <a href="https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden" target="_blank">acclaimed garden</a> is the legacy of 20th century poet Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicholson. Anchored by the dramatic tower of Sissinghurst Castle, the property consists of a series of small enclosures, the most popular being the White Garden, which contains bleeding hearts (a pink, heart-shaped flower), star jasmine, robust echinacea, and tulips (among others).</p><h2>RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey‬</h2> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ukgardenphotos/11753534955/">UKgardenphotos/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/amylloyd/14928642640/">Mrs Airwolfhound</a>. Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Wisley <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/amylloyd/15114920932/in/photostream/">Mrs Airwolfhound</a>. Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Wisley <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/magicattic88/16722339654/">Darling Starlings Flying the Nest/Flickr</a>. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>A flagship of England’s Royal Horticultural Society, this <a href="http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley" target="_blank">world-renowned spot</a> maintains a staff of 90 groundskeepers to keep things looking fresh. Exploring its long, polished lawns and delicately planted flowerbeds is like a crash course in high-style English gardening. Take a walk through its dense wooded trails, listen to songbirds, and admire the garden’s architectural accents, which include a giant glass house the size of 10 tennis courts.‬</p><h2>Stillingfleet Lodge Garden, York‬</h2> <p> Image by David Incoll via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p> <p> Image by David Incoll via Flickr. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/12-most-beautiful-gardens-visit-england-180959722/">(original image)</a> </p><p>Flanked by 18th-century farm buildings, this <a href="http://www.stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk/" target="_blank">private garden</a>—though tiny—is one of the dreamiest in England. There’s a walled courtyard with a picket gate and stone archways, a meadow brimming with wildflowers, and a small pond featuring water lilies, marigolds and ferns. Tall beech trees hang over the grounds with gnarled branches. There’s an explanation for the all-natural, cottage-y look: Stillingfleet, unlike other grand estates throughout England, is carefully tended by the same family who’s lived here since the 1970s.‬‬</p><p><em>Other articles from <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/nature-travel/best-english-gardens?xid=PS_smithsonian">Travel + Leisure</a>: </em></p><ul><li><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/parks-gardens/beautiful-botanical-gardens?xid=PS_smithsonian" target="_blank"><em>The Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in the World</em></a></li><li><em><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-most-beautiful-city-parks?xid=PS_smithsonian" target="_blank">World's Most Beautiful City Parks</a></em></li><li><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-most-beautiful-covered-bridges?xid=PS_smithsonian" target="_blank"><em>America's Most Beautiful Covered Bridges</em></a></li></ul>
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