As the mercury rises, it’s time to plan all those days out – and what better place to start than a beautiful garden?
In many stunning open gardens nationwide, you’ll find family-friendly activities, beautiful plant collections and inspiration for your own garden at home, whatever the size.
Thanks to funding from Sport England, visitors to National Trust properties will be able to have a go at more than 20 different activities, such as ‘go barefoot’, ‘make a splash’ or ‘work together’, to explore, get outdoors and connect with nature.
So, take a look at some of the gardens you could be visiting, during the school holidays and beyond.
1. 2 Durnamuck, Wester Ross, Scottish Highlands (open to public August 21st, scotlandsgardens.org)
To mark the 90th anniversary of open garden charity Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, this private garden is one of around 400 opening its gates to the public this year. The majestic views of An Teallach and Sail Mhor from this coastal plantsman’s garden on the shores of Little Loch Broom are enough to really feel like you’re on holiday – and the variety of plants from foreign climes further stimulates the senses. In summer, you’ll see a rich mix of South African plants, including agapanthus, red hot pokers and dieramas, as well as host of Mediterranean plants.
2. Chartwell, Kent (nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell)
Winston and Clementine Churchill loved their roses, which is pretty obvious as soon as you step into the garden of their country home. The swathe of roses which grace The Golden Rose Avenue were a golden anniversary gift from their children, while beautiful ponds and the Walled Garden borders provide a stunning setting, giving visitors a visual and olfactory treat. Families can enjoy new outdoor games, including boules or quoits, and there’s a new summer trail about the treasures of the Chartwell gardens, running throughout the summer holidays.
3. The Vyne, Hampshire (nationaltrust.org.uk/the-vyne)
This former Tudor house was among King Henry VIII’s favourites, as he loved to hunt through the woods and fields. Take in soft grassy trails which lead through the orchard, or test your birdwatching skills from the hide, and see what insects the kids can discover in the wetlands. Children can also find out how we’re helping nature on The Vyne’s new Ranger Rabbit garden trail, or if the heavens open, they can soak up Victorian adventure stories indoors.
4. Clinton Lodge, East Sussex (open to public August 2nd, ngs.org.uk/view-garden/7884)
It’s advisable to book to see this beautiful six-acre romantic garden overlooking parkland, as it has plenty of highlights, including a water canal with pools and fountains. The garden is designed as separate rooms, reflecting a range of English garden design from the 17th century to the present day. Don’t miss the William Pye water feature, soft-hued white and blue herbaceous borders, a Medieval style potager and a wildflower garden.
5. Croft Castle and Parkland, Herefordshire (nationaltrust.org.uk/croft-castle-and-parkland)
If you’re heading to Wales this summer, stop off for the day at this beautiful ancient setting on the English-Welsh border, to admire its picture postcard cottage gardens, ancient trees and newly-restored Fishpool Valley, with its cooling cascades of water. There’s plenty of room for the kids to let off steam in the natural play area, or they can investigate the bug hotel, or seek out birds, bees and butterflies in the long grass in the walled garden.
6. Castle Ward, County Down (nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward)
Game Of Thrones fans should recognise the setting of Winterfell in the historic farmyard of the 18th century mansion, as well as the Whispering Wood, and you can even download a map to help you find where the scenes were shot. But even if you’re not a fan of the show, there’s plenty of interest in this huge 820-acre walled demesne, whether you’re cycling or walking, as you navigate atmospheric woodland, parkland and gardens. Families can also use ‘Get Set Go’ cards to make their own outdoor adventures, with gentle prompts to encourage youngsters to make a splash, add some bounce, go barefoot or take a moment to notice nature.
7. East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, West Yorkshire (nationaltrust.org.uk/east-riddlesden-hall)
Fancy helping your children make a mud pie? Look no further than the discovery garden in the grounds of this historic house, where they may also fancy building a den or exploring the hobbit house. Gardeners may prefer to wander through the colourful herbaceous borders surrounding the green lawns. Plonk yourself into a deckchair for a lazy sunny afternoon, or enjoy a picnic in one of the many picnic spots.
8. Cotehele, Cornwall (nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele)
August is the prime time to head to the sizzling hot borders at the East Terrace and Upper Garden, in the vast grounds of this impressive Tudor house, which has 14 acres of gardens and 12 acres of orchards. Mixed border plantings feature hydrangeas, roses, geraniums, irises, salvia, centaurea and veronicas.
9. Coldcotes Moor Garden, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland (open to public August 14th and 15th, ngs.org.uk/view-garden/31341)
With its stunning planting schemes – including vibrant herbaceous borders, a rose arbour and fruit and vegetables to die for – this 15-acre landscaped garden with woods, an orchard and a variety of walks will make a brilliant day out. Take inspiration from the mix of shade and semi-shade planting in the courtyard, while there’s also a small children’s play area to keep the kids happy. Pre-booking essential.
10. Dyffryn Fernant, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire (open six days a week, and for NGS on August 15th, ngs.org.uk/view-garden/18847)
Now an RHS partner garden, if you’re a modernist in search of contemporary innovation, look no further than this six-acre garden, which has been created amid the ancient landscape at the rocky tor of Garn Fawr, making the most of its dramatic environment. In the summer, the dahlias, ornamental grasses and exotics reach their peak, while the bog garden is enhanced with a mirrored obelisk, and there’s a clever use of geometric design within a natural meadow.