Gardens are a staple of group day trips and longer breaks. But what about finding somewhere a bit different? Try these for starters. 

Groups are often looking for quieter periods to visit gardens – St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall is a great choice for either autumn or spring when there are fewer crowds. Whether you’re fascinated by ley lines or interested in sub-tropical flora, itineraries can be tailored to group interests and specialist guides can be booked to answer your questions to make the most of your experience.

2020 is a big year for Brodsworth Hall & Gardens in South Yorkshire which will see its grounds transformed by a colourful new flower display as part of the restoration of the 18-acre site. 

Brodsworth Hall's Target Garden

Source: Scott Merrylees Photography

Groups visiting Brodsworth Hall & Gardens near Doncaster in 2020 are in for a treat - the grounds have been transformed. 

The 100-metre Edwardian Target Garden will feature various flowers as well as a detailed pattern of paving alongside the ‘Target Range’ strip of grass which was designed to be admired by Edwardian house guests as they waited for their turn at archery practice. 

My unusual garden recommendations are…

Dewstow Gardens, Caerwent, South Wales: An extraordinary garden with beautiful landscaped paths, decorative beds, waterfalls and pools. 

An accidental discovery of descending steps in 2000 led to an extensive labyrinth of underground grottoes, tunnels and sunken ferneries which now form part of a unique Grade I listed garden.

Cascades Garden, near Matlock, Derbyshire: A fascinating private four-acre peaceful garden built on the remains of an old corn mill. It is at the base of an almost sheer cliff face with rills, cascades, ponds and an old lead mine.

Cascade Gardens in Matlock, Derbyshire

The garden was inspired by a Buddhist monastery in Japan and provides secluded rooms, with rock formations, delicate planting schemes including unusual perennials, for relaxation and reflection.

Group organiser Penny Hodgson
Shamley Green Gardening Club / Shamley Green Village Care

It’s set to be a vibrant year at the Grade I listed gardens at Iford Manor in Wiltshire, which features as a filming location in the new fantasy drama film, The Secret Garden, being released in cinemas this April starring Colin Firth.

Iford Manor in Wiltshire

Iford Manor’s new head gardener Troy Scott Smith (previously head gardener at Sissinghurst) has been busy replanting certain areas for the season. 

There’s year-round interest thanks to Harold Peto’s unique garden design but they’re particular spectacular from June to August when the roses, peonies and borders start to come into their own. 

The walled garden at Floors Castle on the Scottish borders is a show-piece of seasonal colour and interest. The glasshouse dates from the 1850s and the Victorian tradition of growing plants and fruits continues today.

Floors Castle & Gardens

Source: VisitScotland & Ian Rutherford

Floors Castle & Gardens. 

A new tapestry garden has been created with a mix of meandering paths, hidden corners and other features. Groups receive discounted rates and coach drivers benefit from free admission, parking and refreshments. 

The colder months may not be the obvious choice for a garden visit but there are some gems to discover – so long as you’re wrapped up. Gems such as Ralph Court Gardens in Herefordshire which are transformed in December for a Winter Wonderland Event.

Thousands of lights create a truly magical feel throughout the 12 gardens set in the grounds of a gothic rectory.

Unique in its position, carved into the hillside, the Walled Garden at the National Trust’s Wallington, Northumberland, is an enchanting day out. From a peaceful stroll through the East woods to the Mary Pool stone feature, there’s plenty to charm visitors to the attraction. The Lower Terrace Border has recently been rejuvenated and is full of interest with climbers that embrace the old wall and a combination of plants that please the wildlife. Group rates for 15 or more are available. 

My garden of choice is…

…Beth Chattos in Sussex: It’s one of my favourite gardens to visit. Another is The Raymond Blanc Gardening School in Oxfordshire but you do have to eat there - I took my mum for lunch and did a tour of the garden with the Head Gardener. In the autumn my favourite is the Westonbirt Arboretum & Highgrove gardens. I’d also recommend Tresco Abbey Garden on the Isles of Scilly Islands, best to visit earlier in the year.

Group organiser Jacque Garside
Ashton-u-Lyne Soroptromists group

From spring to summer, the roses are glorious at Pashley Manor Gardens on the border of Sussex and Kent come mid-June. During its special Rose Week, this year taking place from 9th June to 17th June, masses of gorgeous pinks can be found spilling out of their box hedged borders in the Rose Garden.

Pashley Manor Gardens

Source: Kate Wilson

Pashley Manor Gardens, on the border of Sussex and Kent, boast colourful displays all year-round. 

Even the front of the house is covered in the creamy apricot flowers of Rosa Gloire de Dijon. There are Rose talks through the week; a selection of potted roses on sale from 25 times’ Chelsea Gold winners Peter Beales Roses and rose themed gifts from the shop - even the café menu features rose inspired dishes.