In the UK we are spoilt for choice when it comes to gardens to visit, however for this editor’s picks, I am going to stay close to London with Gardens all easily accessible to visitors either by train (plus taxi) or by car in under 1.5hrs. Here are my picks for the top 5 gardens in and around London!
I am a keen Gardener myself and have over the years spent a lot of time visiting gardens around the country and since this week is National Gardening Week in the UK (26 April – 2 May) – what better time to investigate them! All 5 of these gardens are perfect to take children to – my children (2 & 5) love spending hours exploring the different pathways. At the moment all are pre-book, and do look out for special child-friendly activities! They are always worth the few extra pounds, although they do sell out. Wakehurst, Kew, and Leonardslee also do winter Illumination tours – these are all spectacular so don’t think that these gardens are only summer activities.
Kew Gardens is quite simply a must-visit if you are visiting London. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses over 50,000 living plants. There is so much to see at Kew, and so many different events taking place, you will never be tired of visiting it. For children, there is a specially designed children’s garden aimed at those between 2 and 12, a wonderful tree-top walkway (safe for buggies/strollers too), a giant badger set, and log trail. Not to mention family-friendly restaurants. I could spend a week here! Kew also has much sentimental value to us as a family, as my Mother-in-law has a memorial bench here amongst the rhododendrons which in a few short weeks will look simply stunning.
This is Kew Gardens ‘Country branch’ – its wild cousin which houses the millennium seed bank. Whilst not as ‘manicured’ as Kew Gardens, it is well worth a visit on its own merits! Spread over 500 acres in the Sussex countryside, every time I visit, I discover something new. From natural rock ‘slides’ to hidden valleys, wooden log trails & even sheep being herded in the traditional methods. There is a lovely shop on site where you can buy duck feed (amongst other goodies) and it is well worth doing so as if you make it down to the bottom of the valley, there are some fantastic lakes full of birdlife! Do bring your walking boots though – it can get a bit muddy!
I love this place with all my heart. I have been going here since I was 6 months old. Not only is it the main garden of the Royal Horticultural Society, but it is also simply the loveliest place to visit, and somewhere I meet all my friends from all over the world as it is generally not on their radar. There is something for all seasons, and with the new developments, it is going to be simply spectacular. They have wonderful temporary exhibitions across the year, from Lego animals to giant butterflies.
This is an interesting garden. It has something for everyone (although if you are nervous about your children around water, I would bring reins or something similar!). For adults – they have a vineyard! For children, there are semi-wild wallabies (feeding happens at 12.00). And for everyone – beautiful trails amongst the rhododendrons, giant redwoods, and lakes. My children, despite coming here on a regular basis constantly find new trails – I leave the decisions as to the direction we go to them! They love it and get so excited when we turn in the gates. At certain times of the year, they also have big events such as the ‘enchanted’ trail coming up in July/August. We have booked!! Please note that this garden is not buggy/stroller friendly as it is very hilly and the best paths are natural.
This is another private garden and isn’t open all year. Whilst the garden is lovely, I would 100% recommend visiting during the school holidays. They normally have a trail of some sort which makes coming with children extremely exciting! It is different every time we come. We have done pirate Easter egg trails, sculpture trails, Halloween trails & fairy trails. All of which come with a ‘prize’ for completing it! There is also a lovely wooden playground where you can spend a long time… On-site you can also find an award-winning restaurant (booking required), cafes, and a plant shop.