The National Trust is a conservation charity that’s dedicated to preserving the rich cultural heritage of many of the UK’s most famous historic sites and green spaces.
Founded in 1895, The National Trust (or National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty) now restores and looks after countless beautiful spaces in Wales, England, and Northern Ireland, with these ranging from historic houses and gardens, to villages, woods, forests, and beaches. To put things into perspective, sites protected by the National Trust include more than 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments gardens, parks, and nature reserves, all of which are open to the public. (source)
For many of us, National Trust sites hold a special place in our hearts from our childhood family outings and adventures, re-inspiring that sense of learning, imagination, and wonder that we’ve sadly lost with age.
With its sprawling countryside and variety of seasons and plant species available, it’s no surprise that Britain is home to many impressive gardens. With that in mind, here are just three of our favourite UK National Trust gardens…
Hidcote Manor Garden is known for being one of the most famous and influential Arts & Crafts gardens in the UK. Located in the village of Hidcote Bartrim in Gloucestershire, it was created by British garden designer and plantsman, Lawrence Johnston, after his mother purchased the Hidcote Manor Estate in the year 1907.
A keen traveller with a great interest in plants, Johnston took inspiration from the artist Alfred Parsons’ landscape paintings, and Getrude Jekyll, a horticulturist who is famous for her impressive herbaceous borders with their hot to cold colour schemes. Like them, he designed his garden with linking outdoor ‘rooms’ with their own theme; these include the ‘White Garden’ and the ‘Woodland Garden’.
Alison Levey, a Blogger who writes about gardening at The Blackberry Garden and has visited Hidcote Manor Garden, says: “Hidcote is such a special garden as it isn’t just one garden, but many. Whether you prefer formal or informal, wilderness or rocky planting, there is something for everyone. Whenever I go, I always come away feeling inspired, and with some new idea that I want to see if I can ‘borrow’ for my own garden.”
Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire
The work of James Bateman (a horticulturist), with his wife, Maria, and his friend and painter, Edward William Cooke, Biddulph Grange Garden spans 73 acres and is a prime example of Victorian gardening. A part of the larger Biddulph Grange estate, the garden is also regarded as being one of the best places to visit in the UK.
From 1841, Bateman spent over 20 years deploying hunters to source plants from various destinations around the world. With on-going restorations from the National Trust (using an 1862 description from Edward Kemp, alongside archaeological evidence), the gardens are uniquely separated by hedges, and rockwork. Each of these reflect a different part of the world, from China, to Scotland.
Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
The Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in the Weald of Kent are one of the most famous gardens in England, as well as being grade I listed. Created in the 1930s by the poet and garden writer, Vita Sackville-West, and her husband, the author and diplomat, Harold Nicholson, it helped to popularise Getrude Jekyll’s idea of using colour themes in planting. (source)
Known for its great diversity, the garden was originally designed to have various ‘rooms’ separated by pink brick walls and tall hedges. Each of these rooms have their own unique theme, and they still exist today; standouts are The Purple Border, which interestingly, features plants in an array of pinks, blues, and purples, the Nuttery, and The White Garden.