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The Top Ten British Gardens to Visit in the Spring

GemmaKH
Published on April 20th 2021
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Hoveton Hall
Please check local COVID restrictions as well as the garden's policy and opening times before planning your visit.
‘Where flowers bloom so does hope.’ These uplifting words uttered by former First Lady of the US Lady Bird Johnson act as a reminder that as spring flowers begin to open up, so will our lives. The vaccine rollout is moving rapidly across the UK, and as lockdown restrictions are gradually being lifted, gardens are beginning to open their gates and welcome visitors again.
Hoveton Hall Gardens
Image credit: Hoveton Hall Estate
Head gardener at Holker Hall, Glyn Sherratt, is extremely keen to see the public return to the gardens. Part of the reason the Cavendish family – current owners of the house and gardens – open their gardens is that they love sharing them with the public, he admits.
‘During lockdown, it didn’t feel right without people to enjoy the garden,’ Glyn said, ‘the garden team like it when people can enjoy their hard work. If you don’t have that feedback, it feels like a hollow victory.’
Bowood
©Anna Stowe Photography
Despite remaining open during the last two lockdowns, head gardener at Arley Hall Gordon Baillie also can’t wait to welcome more people and echoes the sense of reward this brings.
‘It’s brilliant to see people enjoying it,’ he agrees, ‘they get to see the results of our labour, and that’s always nice. People are genuinely appreciative of what we do.’
Hoveton Hall Gardens
Image credit: Hoveton Hall Estate
Both garden teams have been extremely busy planning events for the new season too. April will see the return of Arley’s much-loved Spring Plant Fair featuring spring flowers and bulbs, plus Gordon will be selling Sweet Peas that he’s grown.
Meanwhile, Holker Hall’s Spring Fair will focus on the outdoors, homemade produce and be a general celebration of spring.
Glyn adds: ‘We are confident we can run the event and keep people safe; we have plenty of space so that we can spread things out. We limit numbers and give people opportunities to do things, but in a secure way.’
Caerhays
Image credit: Caerhays Estate
Whether you want to immerse yourself in Arley Hall’s magnificent Rhododendron collection, enter the ‘spring-time wonderland’ that is Caerhays Castle or see dramatic Tulip displays at Blackland, there’s a cheerful British spring garden for everyone. Here’s our pick of the top 10.

Holker Hall & Gardens

Holker Hall & Gardens
©Paul Mitchell/Fluid Productions

Holker Hall & Gardens

Steeped in history yet always evolving, the award-winning gardens at Holker Hall are a must-see if you’re visiting this part of the Northwest – just a short drive from the central Lake District. There are 23 acres of gardens to explore, with walks like The Cavendish designed to showcase the highlights – from fountains and topiary to evergreens and wildflower meadows. Stand beneath the 400-year-old Great Lime before wandering round the curious Holker Labyrinth. Along with a huge variety of flowers and exotic plants, the gardens are also famous for their beautiful collection of rare Styracaceae. Each generation of the Cavendish family has left its mark on Holker Hall and Gardens, with the estate never having been bought or sold. Go on a tour of the house before enjoying views of Cumbria’s landscape from the Courtyard Café. You can pick up books on the gardens as well as seasonal plants in the gift shop.

Recognised for being a spectacular spring garden, Holker Hall and Gardens in Cumbria is home to one of the best collections of Magnolias in the North of England, as well as stunning Tulip planting schemes which Glyn calls ‘spring fireworks.’
‘We planted thousands of Tulips last November, so we’ll have amazing displays when we reopen,’ he adds.
Holker Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Holker Hall & Gardens
Influenced by generations of the Cavendish family and forever evolving, the gardens’ Tulip scheme is changed annually, so there’s always something different for visitors to see and be inspired by.
While there are colour and interest all year round, the 23-acre garden is a riot of colour in spring with bright yellow Daffodils, fabulous Camellias and striking spring meadows. The pond and cascade framed by a wall of majestic flowering Rhododendrons is an iconic must-see feature during this season.
Holker Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Holker Hall & Gardens
Not only is this a visual feast for the eyes, but a sensual one too. Glyn explains whenever there’s an opportunity to introduce scent through spring flowers, they do.
He encourages people to visit during spring as ‘the gardens are show-stopping' and as you peer around every corner you’ll be left muttering one word – ‘wow.’
Holker Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Holker Hall & Gardens
The Spring Fair will return on the 1st and 2nd May. Click here for details. You can also listen to their audio tour.

Bowood House & Gardens

Bowood Gardens
©Anna Stowe Photography
Aside from its claim to fame as a filming location for popular dramas, including Poldark and the Downton Abbey movie, these award-winning gardens are one of the best-preserved examples of Capability Brown’s work. Watch the impressive collection of Tulips emerge in the Italian-inspired Terrace Garden, the beautifully scented wisteria appear in May, and the Herbaceous Border radiate colour with the arrival of spring.
You won’t want to miss the Woodland Garden. Open for six weeks only during the flowering season, this 30-acre oasis is covered in a breathtaking blanket of Bluebells dotted with incredible Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Magnolias.
Bowood Gardens
©Anna Stowe Photography
Enjoy a guided tour of Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s Private Walled Garden, as well as the rest of the gardens and grounds, with head gardener David Glass on selected dates.

West Dean Gardens

West Dean Gardens
Image credit: West Dean Gardens
These Chichester-based Gardens may contain an aptly named Spring Garden, but it is not for the reason you probably think. Head gardener Tom Brown explains that Spring Garden is named for its natural water springs rather than seasonal highlights. However, there are still clear signs of spring within the peaceful space with ‘Magnolias ready to burst.’
West Dean Gardens
Image credit: West Dean Gardens
Within one of England’s most significant restored gardens, Tom says to look out for the spring bulb display and baby leaf display as well as the nectarine, peach and apricot blossom. Elsewhere, you’ll find a 300-foot Edwardian pergola draped in climbing Roses, Magnolias, Honeysuckles and Clematis, plus an award-winning Sunken Garden. View the Gardens' map or listen to our audio tour.

Arley Hall & Gardens

Arley Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Arley Hall & Gardens
The Grove at Arley boasts a dazzling display of colour and is a must-see during spring. One of the first areas on the estate to show signs of life each year, the informal woodland setting has been a passion of current owner Lord Ashbrook’s for nearly 50 years. Wander into it, and you’ll be met by huge mature Ash trees, underplanted with Azalea’s and Lord Ashbrook’s generous contribution of 400 varieties of Rhododendrons in vibrant hues of pink, yellow, red, purple and white. The Gardens’ best-known feature is its herbaceous border, which is one of the oldest in Britain.

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Despite some garden team members being furloughed, Gordon has been putting in extra hours during lockdown to keep one of Europe’s finest Gardens in tip-top condition.
‘We planted 5,000 Tulips last autumn,’ he says, ‘those will be coming into flower in April and May.’
Arley Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Arley Hall & Gardens
Other spring flowers of significance include Camellias, Magnolias, Daffodils and Hydrangeas.
After a long drab winter with many of us being stuck indoors, he claims enjoying the fresh air, marvelling at the colour, listening to the diverse birdsong and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere at Arley in spring is good for the soul.
Arley Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Arley Hall & Gardens
See the website for information about upcoming events and listen to our audio tour to learn more.

Caerhays Castle and Spring Gardens

Caerhays
Image credit: Caerhays Estate
Described as ‘a spring-time wonderland for visitors,’ this Cornish horticultural treasure is famous for its unusual and rare Camellias and is home to a National Magnolia Collection. Open exclusively for spring, the 140-acre woodland gardens claim their stunning spring flowers are like nothing you will see elsewhere.
A wonderful selection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas accompany a spectacular display of Hydrangeas and a variety of Champion Trees, while a glimpse of the Estate’s 100-year-old Magnolia tree in full bloom is enough to evoke FOMO. [

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Coton Manor Garden

Coton Manor Garden
Image credit: Coton Manor Garden
If you want to witness a garden “springing into action” and unexpected vistas around every corner, then this 10-acre beautifully maintained garden in Northamptonshire is the place for you.
One of the busiest times for nature at Coton Manor is April when the tulips come into full bloom, tree peonies reveal their exotic flowers, and masses of glorious and varied fresh foliage pops up. Beyond the charming atmosphere of the garden is a five-acre Bluebell Wood offering another magical experience.
Coton Manor Garden
Image credit: Coton Manor Garden

Blackland House

Blackland
©Britt Willoughby Dyer
There’s nothing like spending time in a garden bejewelled with Tulips during spring, and you can do exactly that at Blackland, a.k.a. ‘Tulipmania.’
The wonderfully varied 4½ acre organic garden is owned by historic Tulip specialist, and owner of the artisan flower grower and florist Bayntun Flowers, Polly Nicholson. She says her passion for old bulbs was ignited by the antiquarian books she used to research when working at auction firm Sotheby’s. Polly now grows over 70 different varieties of historic Dutch Tulips and around two dozen historic English species.
Blackland
©Britt Willoughby Dyer
In addition to historic Tulips, around 10-15,000 ‘annual’ Tulip bulbs are planted each year before being composted or given away, she explains. However, there’s more to see than Tulips with interesting topiary, traditional glasshouses, a rose garden and unusual spring bulbs. A vivid, naturalistic scene that is sure to blow you away. Find out when Polly’s garden is open for the NGS.

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Hoveton Hall Gardens

Hoveton Hall Gardens
Image credit: Hoveton Hall Estate
While the Buxton family have been consistent owners since 1946, these delightful 15-acre gardens in Norfolk are packed with spring flowers and bulbs and different areas to see.
The Magnolia Garden dominates in spring with a large-spreading Magnolia Soulangeana shrub, bearing fragrant goblet-shaped blooms. Meanwhile, the island on Kidney Lake provides a haven for nesting waterfowl and their ducklings. Stroll through Ashmanhaugh Wood, and you’ll find a fine collection of mature Rhododendrons and Azaleas thriving beneath a canopy of Silver Birch, Sweet Chestnut, Oak and Scots Pine.
Hoveton Hall Gardens
Image credit: Hoveton Hall Estate
Discover more via the Garden map and our audio tour.

Cerney House Gardens

Cerney House Gardens
Image credit: Cerney House Gardens
Despite being all-year-round gardens, Cerney House Gardens is mosy idyllic in spring, and it was the wonderful spring flowers that helped the current owners fall in love with this romantic English spot in the heart of the Cotswolds. You can see a stunning festival of spring colour from over 10,000 Tulips within the Knot Garden in late March and beyond. Meanwhile, April flowers grace the gardens in the form of a marvellous collection of Hellebores and Snowdrops. The beautiful secluded Victorian walled garden also features herbaceous borders overflowing with interest.
Cerney House Gardens
Image credit: Cerney House Gardens

Shuttleworth Swiss Garden

Shuttleworth Swiss Gardens
©Darren Harbar Photography
Next door to the famous Shuttleworth aerodrome, Shuttleworth Swiss Garden is a tranquil land of ponds and lawns, a woodland sculpture trail, resident peacocks and 13 listed follies.
This nine acre RHS partner garden is a fantastic example of the Swiss picturesque style and comes alive with colour from spring flowers including Daphnes, Rhododendrons and 15 different varieties of Daffodil (Narcissus) from March onwards. Garden manager Corinne Price says to look out for Daffodil Island which features the pretty flower spheres of Darmera peltata. The spring bulbs planted around the “Dolphin Tazza” folly make for fantastic April flowers, she adds.
Shuttleworth Swiss Gardens
©Darren Harbar Photography
And, this year, you can see thousands of their beautiful golden blooms up close in the Swiss Garden’s first-ever Daffodil Festival.
Shuttleworth Swiss Gardens
©Darren Harbar Photography