Kent may be known as the "garden of England", but neighbouring counties Sussex and Surrey make a great case for the label to be applied to the entirety of South East England. With perfectly mown lawns, colourful flower displays and rare, preserved plant species, each of these gardens perfectly captures the best of English horticulture.
Despite its relatively small size, the town of Arundel packs in a lot of must-visit attractions, including a cathedral and a nature reserve. But, the biggest attraction in the town continues to be Arundel Castle and Gardens. Housed next to Arundel Cathedral, the gardens feature several distinctive sections, including a vinery and a walled kitchen garden. The castle is also home to the annual Tulip Festival which attracts visitors from all over the world.
Handily located just off one of the main routes from London to Brighton (the A23), Nymans is an expansive National Trust garden featuring a variety of exotic flowers from around the world. Developed in the late 19th century, the garden features a section of woodland on the property, which is ideal for spring and autumnal walks. Also on the property is the medieval style manor, built around 1839 by a man named George Harrington.
One of the more unique offerings in South East England is the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden. The sculpture garden has been exhibiting contemporary sculpture since 1984 and has grown from displaying a few sculptures to 200+ pieces every summer. Set in a beautiful section of woodland, the garden combines bright, colourful flowers, shrubbery and trees with intriguing artworks from 50+ artists.
Since the early 1900s, the grounds of Hever Castle have housed a constantly expanding set of attractions, including two mazes and a variety of picturesque gardens. Once the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn, the castle began as a country house built in the 13th century.
Venture into the Italian Garden for a series of plants and sculptures inspired by Italian culture, or celebrate the quintessential English rose in the Rose Garden. Admire the giant topiary chess set and be sure to visit Astor’s Garden Legacy, an interactive display tracing the garden’s development from Tudor times to the present day.
Located on the border of Kent and East Sussex, Pashley Manor Gardens is home to classic Romantic era English landscapes, complete with sculptures, fountains, and ponds. Opened to the public in 1992, the rose gardens and woodland paths of Pashley Manor are constantly being refreshed, ensuring visitors can enjoy spectacular displays every year. Look out for the spring Tulip Festival in late April featuring around 35,000 blooms and for Special Rose Week, when more than 100 varieties of rose are on show.
Wakehurst Place offers 500+ acres of gardens and woodland, making it one of the largest botanic gardens in the United Kingdom. Operated by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst’s collection is always updated and important preservation work is being undertaken at the site’s Millennium Seed Bank too. Go for a ramble in the country and learn more about the local flora, or take in one of the venue's special exhibitions and arts classes focusing on the natural world.
Beautiful from early spring when the first buds appear, until autumn when the trees turn red and golden, Sheffield Park and Garden houses acres of landscaped gardens and historic woodland. From various points, you can enjoy spectacular views across the countryside, although with the immense range of colourful plants and trees in the garden, great views can be found just about anywhere. Spot the influences of renowned landscape gardeners Capability Brown and Humphry Repton, wander around the four main lakes that form the heart of this verdant refuge, and keep your eyes peeled for an array of wildlife including kingfishers and birds of prey.
Developed by Sir Eric Savill in the 1930s with a wide array of distractive plants and exotic forest, The Savill Garden welcomes new and exciting colours throughout the year. From the intense sensory experience offered by the rose garden, to the ever-changing colours of The Valley Gardens, there is something to enjoy whenever you visit.
From here, you can explore parts of the vast Windsor Great Park or take a short drive to neighbouring Windsor, a town with a rich royal heritage. Its castle is the largest and oldest inhabited fortification in the world, having housed royalty for more than 900 years. Look out for the Royal Standard flying over the Round Tower, a sign the Queen is in residence.
Set around an Elizabethan mansion in more than 200 acres of land, Borde Hill Garden will delight visitors with its series of ‘living garden rooms’. From the Italian Garden to the exotic Round Dell, there’s something for everyone at Borde Hill, and it’s all maintained to a high standard throughout the year. Each part of the 17-acre formal garden has its own unique identity and style, and you’ll find everything from azaleas and rhododendrons to magnolias and roses from spring onwards.
With 27 acres of woodland, water gardens and exotic flowers, High Beeches is a bright and lively garden located in Sussex. This is an ideal spot for a relaxing walk, giving you the opportunity to spot bluebells in their natural environment, along with a variety of other flowers from across the globe. High Beeches is also home to the National Collection of Stewartias, a small set of ornamental trees that can trace their roots to the USA and Asia.