Gardens of Kent
Sitting-pretty in southeast England some 35 minutes drive from London is the colourful county of Kent. Nicknamed the Gardens of England it’s has a fantastic array of history, culture and of course some lovely parks worth visiting. Here’s our short guide to the best that Kent has to offer for any short break outside the capital.
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich
Situated in the heart of historic Sandwich town and surrounded by old city walls, the Secret Gardens are a peaceful place to visit. At the centre of the gardens stands a manor house designed by famous English architect Sir Edwin Luytens in 1911. Coach tours and large groups are welcome not only in the gardens, but also in the tea room that serves light lunches from organically grown produce right from its own vegetable garden. A boutique gift shop on the site sells a selection of items sourced throughout mainland Europe from luxury linen to silverware, china and coffee table trinkets, books, handbags, jewellery and toys.
- Opening times: Daily from 10am – 4pm
- Ticket price: Adults: £6.50, Children £3
- For more information visit the-secretgardens.co.uk
Brogdale Farm near Faversham boasts of being the world’s largest collector of fruit trees and plants with a variety of apple, pear, plum, and cherry. In acres of beautiful orchards grow a collection of bush fruits, nuts and grapes. The Farm is a retreat for self-guided walks, guided tours, and educational school visits. An onsite cafe serves scrumptious dishes from local farm produce; while a plant centre and vending stalls make for hassle-free shopping for freshly picked produce, plants, shrubs, gifts and handicrafts.
- Opening times: 27 March 2012 – End October, 10am – 5pm
- Ticket price: Adults: £7, Children £3
- Check out brogdalecollections.co.uk for more info
Go on a free tour of the 22-acre Biddenden Vineyards Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard and producer of an assortment of wine grapes that thrive in London conditions. It is set in a charming Kentish countryside with a high street lined by half-timber houses once used for cloth-weaving. The entire area is home to several attractions like a 13th century grey stone church, historic gardens and a steam railway. Tourists are welcome to stroll around the vineyard and visit the winery where they can watch the whole bottling process and enjoy free sampling of wine, ciders, and apple and pear juices. There are shops that vend locally produced tea, sweets and biscuits, a wide selection of local beer and cheeses, and the finest Kentish beef.
- Opening times: Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm, Sundays & Bank Holidays: 11am – 5pm
- Ticket price: Free
- Visit the official website at biddendenvineyards.com
Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest Garden
Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest Garden at Bedgebury is both a recreational and conversational arboretum, acclaimed since 1925 as having the most complete collection of conifers the globe over, and which today has over 10,000 trees growing across 320 acres. The place is ideal for strolling and biking and has a Visitor Centre that comes with a restaurant, shower rooms, an education/community room, children’s play areas, and mountain biking trails suited for all levels of ability.
- Opening times: Daily 8am – 4pm
- Ticket price: Free admission. Car parking £8.50
- For more information visit bedgeburypinetum.org.uk