From the rumbustious peony beds at Penshurst to the tidiest kitchen garden in the world at Marle Place, Kent has more than its fair share of wondrous places. What’s On checked out the money-saving Seven Wonders of the Weald pass.
If you’ve ever stored your own plant identification labels for posterity, dream on; the records for the gardens at Penshurst Place, near Tonbridge, date back more than 700 years to 1346.
Entry to this 48-hour spectacle, where over a mile of yew hedging divides the garden into a series of 'rooms’, is now among the benefits included in the latest version of the popular Seven Wonders of the Weald money-saving pass.
Whether you visit in May, when the peony border is hitting its prime, or in mid-summer for 200 roses and a sea of lavender, don’t miss the 11-acre formal walled garden, laid out in 1580 and still true to its early design.
The 2012 Seven Wonders of the Weald pass allows for one free adult or child entry to each of seven attractions and is valid for one year from date of purchase.
The other six attractions on the pass include Marle Place Gardens and Gallery, near Brenchley, a 10-acre privately owned garden, cared for and improved by the owners over 40 years. There’s also a small art gallery, you can always find a peaceful spot to listen to birdsong here. There is a unique mosaic terrace and pretty Victorian gazebo. Don’t miss the gigantic cockerel, strutting around in an explosion of metallic colours, while a restored 19th-century greenhouse is like a self-contained work of art, home to a colourful orchid collection.
Another spot included with the pass is Chiddingstone Castle and Gardens, near Edenbridge, a quirky and fascinating country house saved from falling down in 1955 by antiques fan Denys Bower. Authentic Victorian rooms give a real feel of what it was to live in olden times.
In the beautiful gardens you can wander as lonely as you like without fear of disturbance.
Inspiration is the word you are looking for at Merriments an easily-accessible garden within a garden centre at Hurst Green, on the A21 south of Lamberhurst. A fascinating, largely level walk with busy bird hide, water features and a low pretty bridge is an especially good spot for anyone wanting a breath of fresh air without challenging hills or steps. If the tricks you see here with climbing roses and clematis give you some bright ideas for you own garden you can pop into the garden centre shop.
The Kent & East Sussex Railway is one of the country’s finest examples of a preserved rural light railway, and £15 can be saved here with the Seven Wonders pass.
From Tenterden Town station historic steam and diesel trains gently wind their way along 10.5 miles of track travelling through unrivalled Wealden countryside and the beautiful Rother Valley. The route finally terminates in the Sussex village of Bodiam in the shadow of the National Trust castle.
At Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, near Goudhurst, the pass allows for a free car entry. And at Biddenden Vineyards, the pass will bag you a free tea or coffee.