England’s best gardens by the coast

Year of the English Garden logoBrits have a long history of green-figured genius, and to celebrate the most amazing botanic creations Visit England has declared 2016 to be the Year of the English Garden. We think that some of our country’s most striking patches of land are located close to the coast, so to mark the event we’ve picked our favourite gardens by the sea.

There are holiday parks nearby, so it’s easy for you to plan a visit to any of these amazing creations.


The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

Alnwich House gardens and water fountains
The Water feature at Alnwick Gardens, the Grand Cascade, created on a sloping hillside, with pleached trees and green plants, and water jet displays.

Striking water features, geometric ornamental gardens and one of the largest collections of European plants are among the highlights of these beautiful gardens, created by celebrated designers Wirtz. More favourites include the spring blossoms, fragrant roses and the roots and shoots vegetable garden. Break for lunch at the tree-top restaurant, which is set in one of the world’s largest wooden tree houses.

Entry: from £7.70 for adults, £4.40 for children

Where to stay in Northumberland: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/north-east/northumberland

Ventnor Botanic Gardens, Isle of Wight

Owl on sign at Ventnor Botanic Gardens
The Ventnor Botanic Gardens, an owl seated on the wooden carved sign of welcome to The Southern Hemisphere Garden.

Taking full advantage of the island’s south coast microclimate, Ventnor Botanic Gardens has an impressive collection of rare, subtropical and exotic plantings in Mediterranean, Arid, Australian, New Zealand and South African gardens.

Entry: from £8.50 for adults, £5 for children.

Where to stay on the Isle of Wight: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/isle-of-wight

The Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex

Though comparatively small, this hidden gem garden was created on top of an old car park and manages to pack in a water garden, woodland area, scree beds and gravel garden.

Entry: from £6.95 for adults, free for under 14s

Where to stay in Essex: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/essex

Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

Pool view of the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Overgrown until the early 1990s, the Lost Gardens were hailed as the “garden restoration of the century.” Today there are stunning Victorian productive gardens, an Italian Garden and an exotic outdoor jungle. Look out for the Giant’s Head, Mud Maid and Grey Lady.

Entry: from £12.50 for adults; £6 for children

Where to stay in Cornwall: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/devon-and-cornwall

Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens, East Yorkshire

Drive and bushes at Burton Agnes Hall

There are more than 4,000 different plants in these award-winning Elizabethan gardens. Seek out the classical pond, pebble mosaic garden, herbaceous borders, more than 100 yew topiary bushes and a national collection of bell-shaped campanulas. If you follow the woodland walk, look for the wildlife sculptures along the way.

Entry: from £7 for adults, £4 for children

Where to stay in East Yorkshire: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/yorkshire/yorkshire-coast

Great Dixter House & Gardens, East Sussex

Garden at Great Dixter House
The historic house and landscaped garden at Great Dixter, created by garden designer Christopher Lloyd around the historic 15th century house. Bold colours and planting.

The stunning garden was the passion of gardening writer Christopher Lloyd and is now famous for having some of the most exciting planting in England. Highlights include the Long Border, Wall Garden and the Peacock Garden, where there are 18 sculpted topiary birds towering above daisy hedges.

Entry: from £8.80 for adults, £2.75 for children

Where to stay in in East Sussex: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/sussex/east-sussex

Levens Hall, Cumbria

Topiary bushes at Levens Hall
The historic Elizabethan house of Levens Hall and the pele tower and a celebrated topiary garden, which was started by a French gardener, Guillaume Beaumont in the 18th century.

These 17th century gardens are world famous because of more than 100 individual topiary pieces. Sculpted shapes include chess pieces, Queen Elizabeth and Howard the Lion, with some bushes more than nine metres high.

Entry: from £9 for adults, £5 for children

Where to stay in Cumbria: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/north-west-and-lakes/cumbria

Godolphin House and Estate, Cornwall

The medieval gardens of this historic house are among the most important in Europe. Enjoy the peace of King’s Garden and Side Garden, which is largely unchanged from the 16th century. Head to the potting shed for expert gardening tips.

Entry: from £6 for adults; £3 for children

Where to stay in Cornwall: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/devon-and-cornwall

Powderham Castle, Devon

Bushes at Powderham Castle
A summer view of Powderham Castle in Kenton, Exeter, taken from the gardens

Explore the Victorian walled garden and a plant-filled glasshouse, with an adventure play, pets corner and picnic area for families. BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Toby Buckland hosts a two-day festival in May.

Entry: from £11.50 for adults; £9 for children

Where to stay in Devon: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/devon-and-cornwall

Torre Abbey Gardens, Devon

For those with a dark side, Torre Abbey features a garden inspired by the novels of local writer Agatha Christie and is filled with plants that can kill or cure (in theory, anyway). There’s also one of the Westcountry’s finest Dahlia collections and a new medieval children’s garden.

Entry: adults £7.50, £3 for children

Where to stay in Devon: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/devon-and-cornwall

Mapperton House, Dorset

These spectacular formal valley gardens are Italian in style and include pretty fishponds, an orangery and summer houses. There’s also a wild garden, woods and stunning views.

Entry: from £6 for adults, under 15s are free

Where to stay in Dorset: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/dorset-and-somerset

Pensthorpe Park, Norfolk

There is so much to see, including a structured Millennium Garden, the lush foliage of the Wave Garden; a Wildlife Habitat Garden and Wildflower Meadow, with plenty of places to get closer to nature by feeding birds, following a wildlife tracker trail, or trying pond dipping. The park is breeding site for many birds that are rarely seen elsewhere in the UK.

Entry: from £11.25 for adults, £9.75 for children

Where to stay in Norfolk: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/norfolk

Gunby Hall and Gardens, Lincolnshire

The Victorian walled gardens of this 16th-century country house feature sweeping formal lawns, flower borders, vegetable gardens and wildflower corners.

Entry: from £5 for adults, £2.50 for children

Where to stay in Lincolnshire: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/lincolnshire

Photo credits:

  • Alnwick Gardens: VisitEngland/Alnwick Castle and Gardens
  • Burton Agnes Hall: VisitEngland/Visit Hull and East Yorkshire
  • Levens Hall: VisitEngland/Visit Cumbria
  • Powderham Castle: VisitEngland/Heart of Devon
  • Great Dixter Garden: VisitEngland/Great Dixter
  • Ventnor Botanic: VisitEngland/Visit Isle of Wight
  • Lost Gardens of Heligan: Heligan Gardens Ltd