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Gardens to visit in Kent: Nine of the best in the county

Belmont House & Gardens

An inspirational Kent garden, near Faversham, that has been planted over two centuries. The layout of the grounds dates back from the 1790s, though the planting has been altered over the past two centuries. The gardens consist of a walled garden, pinetum, wooded areas, formal lawns and a large kitchen garden.

The gardens are open all year round between 10am and 6pm. For more details and entry costs visit belmont-house.org/the-gardens

A plant fair takes place at Belmont on May Bank Holiday Monday
A plant fair takes place at Belmont on May Bank Holiday Monday

The eight-acre gardens at Hadlow College, near Tonbridge, were originally designed and maintained as a teaching resource for the students, but is now open to the public.

Each year, from September to May, students build new gardens on themes from domestic gardens, show gardens to public landscape styles using a range of plants and materials in innovative ways.

They hold two national collections - the National Collection of Japanese Anemones, flowering from August to October, and the National Collection of Hellebores, flowering February to March.

All seasons are covered at the gardens, from summer with its bright colours through borders in contrast to the leafy shade from the lakeside trees, to spring with tulips, crocuses and daffodils used in formal bedding schemes, autumn with Japanese Anemones and late flowering perennials and winter with its shrubs, grasses and colourful dried heads of herbaceous plants.

Find the gardens and garden centre at Hadlow College, Tonbridge Road, Hadlow, TB11 0AL. Visit broadviewgardens.co.uk for details of opening times.

Broadview Gardens
Broadview Gardens

Down House

With its unique place in the history of science and evolution, Down House, the family home of world-renowned scientist Charles Darwin, is a must-see.

Stand in the study where Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species, stroll through the gardens that inspired him, and visit his and wife Emma's newly recreated bedroom which overlooks them. Let Sir David Attenborough take you on an interactive multimedia tour around the house, and discover how Darwin developed his groundbreaking theories.

Visitors can also explore the hothouse with its carnivorous plants and orchids, find the wormstone and enjoy the beautiful planting whatever the season.

Find Down House at Luxted Rd, Downe (off the A21 or A233), BR6 7JT. For more details and opening times visit english-heritage.org.uk

Down House, near Orpington, the former home of Charles Darwin
Down House, near Orpington, the former home of Charles Darwin

Emmetts Garden

You can explore rose and rock gardens at Emmetts Garden in Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks, along with exotic and rare trees. Standing on one of the highest spots in the county, the National Trust garden has panoramic views of unspoilt countryside.

Youngsters can enjoy trails featuring your storybook favourites to wild play and outdoor fun throughout the summer.

For opening times, admission prices and events visit nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden

Emmetts Garden in Sevenoaks
Emmetts Garden in Sevenoaks

Goodnestone Park

Goodnestone is a haven of tranquillity hidden away between Canterbury, Sandwich and Dover. The gardens have many centuries of history behind them and have been created by generations of the FitzWalter family who have lived here since they built the house.

The gardens are renowned for their quality and are suitable for a peaceful family day out or a walk in the Kent countryside, as well as special events, including concerts, plant fairs and wedding receptions.

Open to the public Tuesdays to Fridays from April to September as well as Sundays and bank holdays. For details go to goodnestoneparkgardens.co.uk

The manor house at Goodnestone Park
The manor house at Goodnestone Park

Godinton House & Gardens

An ancient estate surrounded by parkland with beautifully restored house and gardens, Godinton is a much-loved home with 600 years of history.

Tours of the house are led by expert guides revealing a country house collection of furniture, art, porcelain and curios and there are homemade cakes and refreshments in the old Billiard Room.

The famous yew hedge surrounds the formal gardens with the wild, Italian and walled gardens beyond, full of colour and interest through the seasons.

Find Godinton House & Gardens at Godinton Lane, Ashford, TN23 3BP. For details of opening times, prices and events go to godintonhouse.co.uk

Godinton House and gardens
Godinton House and gardens

Great Comp

The gardens near Borough Green are seven acres of beautiful and rare plants surrounding a 17th century manor house. There's also an Italian Garden, romantic ruins, enchanting woodland walks and a tearoom.

The garden is the creation of Roderick and Joy Cameron who moved to Great Comp in 1957. They opened the garden to the public for charity in the 1960s, and it is now run by curator William Dyson, assisted by gardeners and a team of volunteers.

Find the gardens at Comp Lane, Platt, Borough Green, TN15 8QS. For details and opening times visit greatcompgarden.co.uk

Great Comp Garden
Great Comp Garden

Hole Park

Tucked away in the Weald of Kent, between Rolvenden and Cranbrook, the 15-acre gardens are privately owned.

One of the highlights of the year is the stunning bluebell display that usually peaks in late April. The attraction, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Weald, has a barometer on its website which each year lets visitors know when to head there for the perfect blue day.

Visitors can also see magnificent rhododendrons, an intriguing solar-powered renovated ice house and Garlic Valley with its shimmering haze of silvery white flowers, where they can breathe in the aroma of wild garlic. The garden has a network of hard paths so is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

For more details and opening times visit holepark.com

Hole Park - tucked away in the Weald
Hole Park - tucked away in the Weald

The garden near Sevenoaks are a listed hillside garden for the whole family to enjoy. Renowned for their carpets of bluebells in the woodland in springtime, and a spectacular array of rhododendrons and azaleas in spring, the gardens also have views over the Weald.

Try den building in the woods, the adventure playground and the hedge maze - and there's the Riverhill Yeti who you might spot in the woods.

Find Riverhill Himalayan Gardens at postcode TN15 0RR, call 01732 459777 or riverhillgardens.co.uk

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

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