Published: 06:00, 11 October 2020
Decorated with beautiful countryside and mile after mile of farmers' fields and orchards, it's no surprise Kent has held its title as the 'Garden of England' for more than 400 years.
The story as to how we gained the prestigious name dates back to the days when the county first supplied food and drink to London.
Legend has it the name was given after Tudor King Henry VIII polished off a plate of Kentish cherries.
He was so impressed by the fruit harvests he coined the phrase which has stuck ever since.
But it has not always been easy defending the title other counties have tried to snatch away.
Fourteen years ago, Kent nearly lost its hard-earned name to a county more than 250 miles away.
In 2006, satellite TV channel UKTV's Style Gardens held a poll asking more than 4,000 people to vote for the most beautiful county they think deserved the accolade.
After examining all 48 of England's counties, gardening experts came up with a shortlist which voters were asked to rank according to their countryside, villages and wildlife.
As the current holder, Kent should have been odds on favourite but instead the crown was stolen by the North.
Reports from the time say some 31.1% of people voted North Yorkshire the new Garden of England for its wide open spaces, natural scenery, lack of litter and impressive stately homes.
Kent was dealt a blow when it received just 5.2% of the votes, leaving it in fifth place trailing behind Devon, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire.
Those who voted thought Kent no longer deserved the title because of issues such as overcrowding, pollution and London commuters taking away its original charm.
More than a third of respondents also claimed the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone was a negative factor along with new housing in the green belts and tourist exploitation of 'secret nooks'.
Some even claimed the county had become too 'chavvy' to hold such a well-respected crown.
Voters seemed to favour the big, rural counties further away from London and rich in national parks.
Other counties in the top 10 included Suffolk, Dorset and Cheshire.
But despite the aftermath of the survey, Kent was quick to defend its title and has kept a tight hold of it ever since.
Voters seemed to favour the big, rural counties further away from London and rich in national parks, just like the top three.
Kent County Council's (KCC) leader at the time Paul Carter said the survey was 'a bit of fun'.
He added: "Seventy per cent of the county is still agricultural land and with outstanding gardens like Sissinghurst and the 'most beautiful castle in the world' at Leeds, Kent has the track record to maintain the title.
"In some ways the survey is a bit of fun. On the serious side, the government's drive to build more and more houses in the South East is a major challenge and probably responsible for some of the vote.
"We are, nonetheless, striving very hard to make Kent an even greater place to live and work and a vital part of that aim is protection of Kent's unique environment."
While Kent may not have been as high up as hoped, it was the only county in the South East that made it into the top five.
Thankfully the poll held no real weight and many people forgot about the steal as quickly as it came about.
Our little corner of the country has a lot to be proud of that proves Kent really is, and always will be, the Garden of England.
Wimbledon strawberries are grown here every year and are served during the world famous tennis tournament.
Hugh Lowe Farms, which has its pack house in Seven Mile Lane in Mereworth is among the farms that contribute.
King Henry VIII, the man who started it all, even lived in Leeds Castle in Maidstone with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Visitors come from across the world to view the magnificent castle which covers more than 500 acres of landscaped gardens.
The UK's largest lavender farm which produces oils for products sold across the world is based in Shoreham. Castle Farm, in Redmans Lane, grows more than 130 acres of the fragrant flowers each year.
The quality of the plant grown here is so high, its extracts are wanted across the food and beauty industries.
It is also famous for its beef, apples and pumpkins which it sells in its award-winning Hop Shop.
As well as lavender, since the 15th century Kent has also had the perfect climate for growing hops.
This is the reason why we have so many iconic oast houses, also known as hop kilns, with their unique pointed roofs scattered around our rural areas.
Back in the days when brewing English ale was a booming industry, Kent was the perfect place to grow the crops.
While most have now been converted for different uses, some are still open to the public for visitors.
So there is still plenty of evidence that our beloved county can rightfully be known as The Garden of England.