garden Hever
22 April 2015

Garden of England

They say that gardens are good for the soul. It makes this 86-mile driving route through the Kent countryside a deeply calming proposition.  The county’s abundance of hills, rural estates and orchards – pears, apples, plums and cherries all thrive here – mean it lives up to its long-term nickname as “The Garden of England”. This English road trip covers some of the area’s finest grounds and gardens, as well as touching on Kent’s often significant role in British history. What’s more, you’ll even finish up at the seaside.

Banner Image Credit: alh1

  • Hever

    A familiar name to fans of Wolf Hall, Hever Castle was the family seat of Anne Boleyn. The moated, 13th century castle is a spectacle in itself, but it shares top billing with its 125 acres of gardens, voted the most romantic in the southeast by readers of Gardener’s World. The Italian Garden, with its Pompeiian Wall, and the English Rose Garden, with its 4,000 rose bushes, are widely famed. In the nearby village of Hever itself, the Greyhound Inn serves fresh seafood. From here, Goudhurst is a 45-minute drive away.

    Image Credit: Steve Slater (used to be Wildlife Encounters)

    From 14/04/2015

    View over Hever Castle in Kent.
  • Goudhurst

    Before arriving into Goudhurst, make a short diversion to call in at the 14th-century Scotney Castle. The National Trust-owned property has glorious formal gardens and is set in a wooded estate with its own hop farm. Close by are the massed conifers of the Bedgebury Pinetum, where you’ll find close to 10,000 trees and shrubs. On the other side of the village of Goudhurst, meanwhile, is Sissinghurst Castle Garden, designed by author and poet Vita Sackville-West in the 1930s. Moving on, Maidstone is half an hour to the north.

    Image Credit: davidmeggers

    From 14/04/2015

    View of Scotney Castle.
  • Maidstone

    Kent’s county town is bisected by the River Medway and has some decent shops and museums, but this particular car hire adventure finds a more obvious focus on the outskirts, in the shape of Leeds Castle. Unquestionably one of the finest castles in the country, it was once home to Catherine of Aragon and still stands in 500 acres of gardens and parkland.  Its Wood Garden is known for its azaleas and rhododendrons. Back in Maidstone, try dinner with a difference at cabaret-themed Mu Mu. Heading east, Faversham is 20 miles away.

    Image Credit:jonmcalister

    From 21/04/2015

    Vie over Leeds Castle, Kent.
  • Faversham

    Sitting on the fringes of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the market town of Faversham has a history reaching back to pre-Roman days. For garden-lovers, however, the main point of interest sits in the Kent countryside just out of town. The ten-acre Mount Ephraim Gardens, established in the Edwardian era, give deep views over the Swale and Thames estuaries and have their own maze and Japanese rock garden. Also close to Faversham, you’ll find the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve. From here, a 45-minute drive to the coast brings you to Deal.

    Image Credit: Menage a Moi

    From 14/04/2015

    View over Faversham.
  • Deal

    These days a well-preserved seaside resort on the English Channel, Deal was once a major port – Admiral Lord Nelson and Captain Cook both passed through. The town, with its narrow smugglers’ lanes, still has a historical feel, and the same is true of Walmer Castle & Gardens, south of town. The castle’s Broadwalk Garden has just finished a four-year restoration project, and there’s also a kitchen garden, the fruits of which can be sampled at Lord Warden’s Tea Room. Nearby, in the town itself, Deal Castle is another heritage attraction.

    Image Credit: Ian Stedman

    From 14/04/2015

    Path towards Walmer Castle in Kent.
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