With 2016 crowned the year of the English garden, there is no better time to visit Britain’s picture-perfect open green spaces. Immaculately presented, these parks and gardens are filled with both natural and man-made treasures, with an abundance of flourishing flora and fauna.
In London, you could roam any of the eight Royal Parks, including Regent’s Park with its glorious rose display. Visit the elegant Kensington Palace in the lavish Kensington Gardens, while the kids enjoy the Diana Memorial Playground, complete with a pirate ship and teepees.
Richmond Park is best known for its furry residents, including red and fallow deer, while further afield, the Glendurgan Garden in Cornwall is filled with spectacular scenery and a carefully maintained giant hedge maze.
In Wales you will have your pick of grassy meadows to explore. The highly touted Bodnant Garden is breathtakingly beautiful and offers a vast collection of plants, providing year-round colour.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is equally attractive, covering more than 200 hectares of Carmarthenshire countryside.
Take time out in Scotland to peruse the natural wonders on display at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, or visit Pollok Country Park and wander the halls of the graceful Pollock House.
Britain’s top parks and gardens provide the perfect escape from the bustling big city. Enjoy a breath of fresh air as you stroll perfectly manicured lawns, ravishing flower displays and ornamental monuments and landmarks, and see why the UK countryside is lauded for its beauty and charm.
One of the eight Royal Parks of London, Kensington Gardens boasts an impressive number of attractions spread across a whopping 97 hectares. The lush landscapes are decorated with tree-lined avenues and ornamental flower beds.
Stroll through the 150-year-old Italian Gardens and admire the marvellous Peter Pan Statue in honour of J. M. Barrie’s famous tales, inspired by the gardens. Of course, the most notable attraction is the magnificent Kensington Palace, a royal residence since the 17th century.
Nestled in the county borough of Conwy, the award-winning Bodnant Garden is a lavish green space. Often touted as one of the most beautiful gardens in the United Kingdom, the verdant landscapes are perfectly positioned, with views stretching towards the Snowdonia ranges.
The striking gardens boast sweeping lawns and dense woodlands in addition to many stunning flowering plants, from roses to hydrangeas and lilies. Browse the immaculate Italianate Terraces, the most formal part of the garden with year-round colour.
Royal Botanic Garden
Centrally located, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh acts as a peaceful haven away from the city hustle.
Featuring nearly 30 hectares of stunning scenery, the gardens are renowned for their unique collection of unusual plant species. Witness Britain’s tallest Palm House or stroll among the towering Redwood trees in the Woodland Garden.
Enjoy the serenity of the Chinese Hillside, explore the world-famous Rock Garden, or admire treasures at the award-winning art gallery inside the historic Inverleith House.
More UK holiday inspiration
Encompassing three valleys, the Glendurgan Gardens are a natural wonderland filled with exotic flowers and jungle-like terrain. The valley garden offers picturesque views stretching down to the glistening waters of Helford River.
You can also tour through the gardens to Durgan village, a quiet fishing hamlet set on the water. The gardens are famous for their labyrinth of carefully maintained hedges that form a twisted maze that proves to be fun for all ages. Little ones can also swing high on the Giant’s Stride.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
Covering more than 200 hectares, the National Botanic Garden of Wales offers extensive horticultural displays and flower meadows. The centrepiece is the Great Glasshouse filled with a lavish Mediterranean landscape including a six-metre-deep ravine.
Designed to be an immersive experience, guests can pause in a Spanish olive grove, visit a Japanese garden complete with a tea house, or wander through collections of fuchsias from Chile. The extensive gardens feature contemporary art design with a clever blend of both historic and futuristic displays.
The largest of London’s Royal Parks, Richmond Park is known for its wildlife conservation, thanks to the hordes of ancient trees that flourish in the region. Furry residents include some 650 wild red and fallow deer, in addition to many bird species from woodpeckers to waterfowl.
Little critters also roam the land, including butterflies and beetles among 250 types of fungi. A highlight will be the 16-hectare Isabella Plantation, known for its evergreen azaleas, which peak in late April and early May.
There is no shortage of things to do in Regent’s Park. Queen Mary’s Gardens is a delight to explore with more than 12,000 roses on display, covering 400 varieties. The expansive space also holds a number of memorials, fountains and statues, including the Triton Fountain, Jubilee Gates and the Griffin Tazza.
The park also houses the Open Air Theatre, London Zoo, Primrose Hill and the largest outdoor sports facility in London. Keep your eyes peeled for the many wild birds and waterfowl that roam the grounds.
Pollok Country Park
As Glasgow’s largest park, the award-winning grounds of Pollok Country Park provide a quiet oasis for visitors and residents alike. The leafy surrounds feature a wildlife garden, woodlands, a mountain bike circuit and a play park.
Visit the Pollok House, one of the city’s most elegant family homes, containing a remarkable collection of Spanish art and a lovely tea room. This is also where you will find the Burrell Collection, with priceless artworks from across the globe.
Other notable London parks
- Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, Surrey
- Hampton Court Palace Gardens East Molesey, Surrey
- Kensington Roof Gardens Kensington High Street, London
- Chiswick Gardens Burlington Lane, Chiswick
- Hyde Park, London
- Battersea Park, London
- St James’s Park, London
- Greenwich Park, London