The summer garden guide: South east England

Date Posted: 30/04/2015

As summer approaches and the flowers begin to blossom, gardens all over the country are opening their doors to groups.

Almost all National Trust gardens will be open for visitors to take in the vibrant colours, scented displays, and bountiful borders from June, just when they are at their peak.

Here are a few of the best gardens in the South East for you to visit…

Best for roses

Chartwell, Kent: Flowering from June to October, Lady Churchill’s rose garden is filled with a mixture of soft pink and white floribundas and hybrid tea roses. You can take a stroll along the golden rose walk, which is planted with 32 varieties of yellow roses, as well as see the climbing roses around the walled garden, which was designed and planted by Lady Churchill with help from her head gardener.

Emmetts Garden, Kent: This small, formal rose garden in Kent is known as the ladies’ rose garden due to its abundance of pink hues. Using photographs from the 1900s the garden has been recently restored to replicate its appearance from the Edwardian times, and groups can now see the delicate pink rose collection planted in a classic style.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent: It’s the intimate garden rooms and the rose garden filled with old rose varieties that marks Sissinghurst Castle Garden out. See the old fashioned climbers and shrub roses which were owner Vita Sackville West’s favourite flowers, as well as the first plant sown by Vita at Sissinghurst – a now 80 year old rose.

In the white garden, which peaks in late June, you can see ‘rosa mulliganii’ cascading over the central arbour and covering it with thousands of single, white, scented blooms.

Bateman’s, East Sussex: The garden that made Rudyard Kipling feel like an English country gentleman includes a river running through a wild flower meadow, a watermill, orchard and a formal rose garden.

On the walls there are climbers and ramblers in a variety of colours including deep red ‘Ena Harkness’ and primrose yellow ‘Goldfinch’. The lily pond and rose garden designed by Kipling himself includes three varieties of floribunda roses in shades of pink and red flower, meaning Bateman’s is a garden full of colour in the summer months.

Best for summer borders

Scotney Castle, Kent: Scotney Castle’s inner courtyard is famous for its roses, clematis and geraniums, and the itea that climbs and clings to the walls. The 23 different species of dragonflies around the moat add to the colourful scene at the Medieval castle.

Bateman’s, East Sussex: As well as the rose garden at Bateman’s, the borders are filled with an abundance of summer annuals chosen for their decorative floral value. They bloom alongside vegetables, herbs and salads. Originally laid out as an ornamental kitchen garden, these beds are being gradually restored to Kipling’s original style of planting and this year will include something different. This summer you will find giant sunflowers amongst sweetcorn, tomatoes and a mixture of salad leaves.

Other gardens not to be missed

Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex: Half the land around this house is covered by the kitchen garden, which is full of flowering sweet peas, potatoes, onions, beetroot, sweetcorn, spinach and squash. The borders surrounding the garden are also home to masses of herbs and flowers such as lemon balm, mint, evening primroses, poppies and pot marigolds.

Standen, East Sussex: From June onwards, the sloping lawn at this Arts & Crafts house and garden is transformed into a wildflower meadow with native orchids, geraniums, red clover, knapweed and yellow rattle providing a splash of colour to the landscape.

The huge kitchen garden is currently being restored to its original vintage design and size, and this summer will be filled with Sussex varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as edible flowers that visitors can try.

For more information visit

Photo credit: John Miller, National Trust.

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