Ten Reasons why Kent Deserves its Nickname
Published: Sunday 11th Oct 2015
Written by: Alice de Courcy-Wheeler
Because of its abundance of hops and orchards, Kent is often referred to as the ‘Garden of England’ and lovers of horticulture are spoilt for choice in this green and fertile corner of the country. From castle parkland and beach rockeries to pine forests and Italian-inspired formal gardens, there are so many gardens to enjoy during your holiday. Here are ten to whet your appetite:
If you are feeling fruity, the Brogdale Collection near Faversham is must visit as it is home to the largest collection of fruit trees and plants in the World. It offers the opportunity to explore the orchards with a wide variety of fruit from pears and quinces to plums and cobnuts. At the right time of year visitors can taste the fruit and learn about the history of different varieties on guided tours.
Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage
In the far south-east corner of Kent, the shingle beach at Dungeness is home to an odd assortment of houses including the famous beach hut of the late film director Derek Jarman, where his famous garden of driftwood, sculptures and beach plants is an enchanting find. Under the gaze of a disused power station, Prospect Cottage has become a Mecca for lovers of unusual gardens and although not open to the public people are free to wander and take in this unique plot.
Famed as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the beautiful Hever Castle has plenty to keep garden fans happy. Its 125 acres contains an Italian Garden, a lakeside walk, a yew maze and a water maze. Gardener's World voted it the most romantic garden in the south-east of England.
A 14th century manor house, the glorious Penshurst Place is surrounded by 50 acres of garden and parkland. Over a mile of yew hedging divides the garden into different sections, each planned to show its best in different seasons. Visitors can wander around the Arboretum, stroll past the Trout Lakes and visit Lake Park in this charming corner of Kent.
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
Near Sevenoaks, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens was created by John Rogers, a friend of Charles Darwin, who took advantage of the location’s sheltered position to develop a fine collection of Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. The woodland is carpeted with Bluebells in spring and the Rose Garden becomes a riot of colour in the summer. There’s den building and an adventure playground to keep the children occupied as well.
Consisting of seven acres, the stunning Quex Gardens combines historic gardens and natural woodland with Victorian landscaping and design. Visitors can relax by the fountain and garden statues, stroll around the walled garden and explore the greenhouses or enjoy the woodland walks and wildlife that live there.
Managed by the Forestry Commission, the National Pinetum at Bedgebury is a one of the finest collections of conifers and pines to be found anywhere. A great place for those who love the great outdoors to spend the day, the location offers a host recreational activities from Go Ape and playgrounds to mountain biking and archery.
The Hop Farm Country Park
Many people used to travel to Kent to spend their holidays picking hops, and the history of hop farming and brewing in the county is retold at The Hop Farm Country Park which has the largest collection of oast houses in the world as well as recreated Victorian streets. There are also many attractions for children from indoor and outdoor play areas, birds of prey displays and funfair rides.
An imposing Norman stronghold, Leeds Castle sits in 500 acres of green space including a wood garden and the beautiful The Culpeper cottage garden full of flowers and scented plants. Children and adults alike will love the maze made from over 2,000 yew trees and the strange underground grotto in the middle where mythical beasts made from shells live.
Goodnestone Park Gardens
Described as one of the loveliest gardens in Kent and as the rural heart of England, Goodnestone Park Gardens near Canterbury was a favourite spot for novelist Jane Austen. There is a range of different gardens and terraces as well as parkland and woodland, which guarantee you will spend a blissful day strolling around this wonderful gem.