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Gardens in Kent: Summer colour to discover at National Trust properties

By Angela Cole

Make the most of nature with gardens blooming with vibrant colours, scented displays and relaxing spaces to take in breathtaking views.

“Summer is the time when the team really reaps the sensory rewards of their hard work throughout the year,” said head gardener at Emmetts Garden, Matthew Scott. “Wildflowers in the meadow are a riot of colour, and magnolia, azalea and rhododendron fill the garden with wonderful scents and views. We planted some new varieties in our formal rose garden last year and can’t wait to see what they bring to the landscape.”

There’s plenty to discover at National Trust gardens across the county. Here’s six of the best:

Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst Castle Garden


More than 50 varieties of roses will be creating a carpet of colour in the tiny Tenterden garden.

The former home of actress Ellen Terry is a tranquil retreat with a traditional rose garden, orchard, nuttery and ponds, with wildlife nestling among it. The garden team won a Silver Gilt award from the Kent Wildlife Trust for their work looking after the garden.

They are also working on rebuilding the rose pergola to recreate the look and feel of the garden as it was in Ellen Terry’s day. The gardens are open each day between 11am and 5pm.


From ponds to rose gardens, lakes to orchards, the garden at Sir Winston Churchill’s family home is alive with colour. Wander the top terrace of the kitchen garden to admire the pink and purple borders.

Head gardener Tim Parker said: “Our team planted 14,000 spring bulbs last year and now is the time to come and see the results of their efforts. Make sure not to miss blooming lilies and majestic weigela. The technicolour sweat peas are a particular treat.”

The yellow of the Golden Rose Avenue, first created by the Churchill children to celebrate their parents’ golden wedding, will be in its prime, with 50 varieties of rose in bloom. The gardens are open daily, between 10am and 5pm.

Emmetts Garden in Sevenoaks
Emmetts Garden in Sevenoaks


Wildflowers in the meadow are a riot of colour among the long grasses while the beds burst with buds of magnolia, azalea and rhododendron.

In the small formal rose garden, there are pink blooms unfurling, including new varieties like the Octavia Hill rose.

Head gardener Matt Scott, said: “The winding paths around the lily pond in the Rock Garden are a summer treat for the eyes. And spot the unusual wedding cake tree in the North Garden.”

The gardens are open daily, between 10am and 5pm.


The cottage garden is a carpet of colour with the Mme Alfred Carriere climbing rose in full glory. It was the first thing that Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson planted at Sissinghurst, on the day their offer was accepted.

In the famous White Garden, rosa mulliganii cascades over the central arbour with its white, scented blooms while white gladioli and white irises merge together. The gardens are open daily, from 11am to 5.30pm.

Sweet peas at Ightham Mote
Sweet peas at Ightham Mote


The mixed herbaceous border frames summer walks with a helping of hearty colour, while grassy terraces lead to informal lawns and specimen trees, where visitors can picnic or take a stroll around the lake. There is also a natural play area for little ones to let off steam.

The garden opens daily, between 11am and 5pm.


There’s a fairy tale feel to the rhododendrons and azaleas at the Lamberhurst site.

The walled garden is stocked with fruit trees and roses, while wisteria and old English roses spread over the sandstone walls.

Garden and estate manager Paul Micklewright said: “There is something for everyone at Scotney. From the more formal areas around the castle, to wild flower meadows on the outer edges of the garden.”

The gardens open daily, between 10am and 5pm.

Moated Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst. Picture: National Trust/NTPL/John Miller
Moated Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst. Picture: National Trust/NTPL/John Miller


For details and admission prices, go to nationaltrust.org.uk and search for the property you want to visit.

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