No matter what time of year you visit England, there's going to be a stunning garden ready for you to visit, regardless of whether you find yourself with crispy autumn leaves underfoot, blazing sunshine overhead, or both. With more public gardens than anywhere else on the planet you’ll have plenty to choose from too, but here’s our pick for each season to get you started…
Down in the warm, wet climate of Cornwall, the first shoots of spring appear a little earlier than in the rest of the country. At the Eden Project, daffodils, bluebells and violets brighten up the outdoor gardens, whilst delicately fragrant rock roses find the perfect conditions to bloom inside the Mediterranean Biome.
With the British weather in spring notoriously changeable – one minute you’re in a thick winter coat, the next stripping down to t-shirt and shorts – the Eden Project’s combination of indoor and outdoor gardens is ideal. You can also explore the site’s tropical rainforest biome, which showcases four of the world’s rainforest environments and includes a Canopy Walkway high up in the treetops. Thrill seekers can also try their hand at a host of adventure activities from Hangloose, including Skywire and Gravity.
When summer arrives on Tresco, one of the Isles of Scilly, it really arrives - and there’s no better place to experience it than the 19th-century Abbey Garden. The 17-acre garden has a tropical feel thanks to the island’s unique microclimate. With feet firmly on English soil you can travel the world walking round it, marvelling at its spectacular show of species from more than 80 countries.
There’s the flame-coloured frills of the South American Bomarea, which wow like a troupe of flamenco dancers, and succulents from the Canary Islands, with rosette leaves such a vivid green they’re almost fluorescent. And the added joy is that thanks to Tresco’s balmy climes, these beauties can be enjoyed well into late September’s Indian summer. Even in the winter, around 300 species continue to flower, while the Valhalla Museum within the garden houses a number of figureheads and other unique artefacts, collected from shipwrecks across the Isles of Scilly.
Sheffield Park and Garden is not in fact found in the northern city of Sheffield, but down south in Uckfield, East Sussex. The landscaped parkland really comes into its own in autumn – peaking around October - and is a popular place for family days out to see the season’s much-loved colours.
You’ll love strolling round the park’s lakes, framed with red, gold and copper trees, kicking up fallen leaves as you go and enjoying the satisfying crack and crunch of small branches under your walking boots. In all there are 120 acres to explore, with the majority designed by renowned landscape gardener Capability Brown, although the gardens form part of the much larger Sheffield Park Estate. Keep your eyes peeled for kingfishers and an array of impressive birds of prey, and be sure to remember your camera – you’ll treasure memories of this photogenic scene for years to come.
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest in Kent is a treat year-round but is perfectly suited to winter weather with its evergreen trees. Started in the 1840s by the Beresford Hope family, the site – spread over 320 acres – now boasts one of the globe’s most complete collections of conifers.
From the frosty crunch of the morning grass to the invigorating scent of fresh pine in the air, a nice walk here is sure to wake you from your winter slumber. There are miles of cycling, mountain biking and running trails to explore, as well as Go Ape tree top adventure for those with a head for heights.