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16 July 2021

The UK’s best gardens

We reveal readers’ favourite gardens – rated for beauty, accessibility, lack of crowds and more
W
Which?Editorial team

From enjoying the fresh air, to taking inspiration from the riot of colours and fruit and vegetable patches, there is joy to be found in beautiful gardens all over the UK. 

Perfect for dry days out with friends and family, a visit to one of the UK’s best gardens - as rated by Which? readers - should be on this year’s to-do list.

But which garden in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland came top of the table?

Nationwide you can find vibrant and exotic havens as well as sprawling, manicured landscapes, making the competition tough. And it wasn’t the most well-known, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew that ranked the highest. 

Find out which are the UK’s must-visited gardens below.

Gardens in the UK ranked

Garden
Accessibility
Attractiveness
Food and drink
Staff helpfulness
Value for money
Customer score
Logan Botanic Garden, Dumfries and Galloway (S)
-
93%
Coleton Fishacre House & Gardens, Devon (E)
89%
Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders (S)
-
89%
Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll and Bute (S)
-
-
-
88%
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon (E)
88%
Trebah Garden, Cornwall (E)
88%
Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthenshire (W)
86%
Inverewe Garden, Highlands (S)
86%
Powis Castle and Garden, Powys (W)
86%
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Edinburgh (S)
86%
Bodnant Garden, Conwy (W)
85%
Branklyn Garden, Argyll and Bute (S)
-
-
84%
Mount Stewart, County Down (NI)
-
84%
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire (E)
84%
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London (E)
84%
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire (E)
84%
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey (E)
83%
The Courts Garden, Wiltshire (E)
-
83%
Threave Garden and Estate, Dumfries and Galloway (S)
-
83%
Culzean Castle Gardens, Ayrshire (S)
82%
Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan (W)
82%
Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall (E)
-
82%
National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire (W)
82%
Ness Botanic Gardens, Cheshire (E)
82%
Sheffield Park Garden, East Sussex (E)
82%
Trelissick Gardens, Cornwall (E)
82%
Wakehurst, West Sussex (E)
82%
Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire (E)
81%
Crathes Castle Gardens, Aberdeenshire (S)
-
-
-
81%
Gibside, Tyne and Wear (E)
81%
Greenway Garden, Devon (E)
-
81%
Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire (E)
81%
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall (E)
81%
Pashley Manor Gardens, East Sussex (E)
-
81%
Plas Newydd House and Garden, Llangollen (W)
-
81%
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent (E)
81%
Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall (E)
-
81%
Portmeirion Gardens, Gwynned (W)
79%
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex (E)
79%
Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House (NI)
-
-
-
-
78%
Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge (E)
78%
Dorothy Clive Garden, Staffordshire (E)
78%
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, Norfolk (E)
-
-
78%
Nymans, West Sussex (E)
78%
Batsford Arboretum, Gloucestershire (E)
77%
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Glasgow (S)
-
77%
Hare Hill Gardens, Cheshire (E)
-
-
-
77%
Mottistone Manor Garden, Isle of Wight (E)
77%
Chelsea Psychic Garden, London (E)
76%
Eden Project, Cornwall (E)
76%
Emmetts Garden, Kent (E)
76%
Rievaulx Terrace, North Yorkshire (E)
76%
The Weir Garden, Herefordshire (E)
-
-
-
-
76%
Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey (E)
76%
Plas Newydd House and Gardens, Anglesey (W)
75%
University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (E)
74%
Balmoral Gardens, Aberdeenshire (S)
-
73%
Durham University Botanic Garden, Durham (E)
-
-
73%
Penrhyn Castle and Garden, Gwynedd (W)
-
73%
Picton Castle and Gardens, Pembrokeshire (W)
-
-
73%
Inveraray Castle, Argyll and Bute (S)
-
-
72%
Tredegar House, Gwent (W)
72%
Acorn Bank Gardens, Cumbria (E)
-
71%
Helmsley Walled Garden, North Yorkshire (E)
71%
Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey (E)
70%
Borde Hill Garden, West Sussex (E)
59%
Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire (E)
-
69%
Hardy's Cottage, Dorset (E)
68%
Lullingstone Castle and the World Garden, Kent (E)
-
-
68%
Westbury Court Garden, Gloucestershire (E)
-
-
-
-
67%

USING THE TABLE: Based on an online survey of 6,053 Which? members, March/April 2021. (E) = England, (S) = Scotland, (W) = Wales, (NI) = Northern Ireland. Star ratings: one to five. Score: combines overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend. A dash (-) indicates the sample size was too small to calculate a rating.


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Beautiful gardens to visit

First place: Logan Botanic Garden, Dumfries and Galloway, 93%

Logan Botanic Garden

The best garden in the UK won a constellation of five stars across every category. 

Expect to see banks of agapanthus or ‘Lily of the Nile’ in summer, giant Gunnera or ‘Giant rhubarb’, palm trees and a grove of tree ferns. 

Refreshments can be found at the award-winning Potting Shed bistro, including clootie dumpling pudding. There’s also a shop and plant sales area.

Joint second place: Coleton Fishacre House and Gardens, Devon, 89%

Coleton Fishacre House and Gardens

This National Trust house and gardens feel remote and secret. The house faces towards the sea, overlooking formal terraces brimming with rare and exotic plants. 

Enjoy a scone or slice of cake in the café before setting off down the valley, cloaked with bamboo and ferns. Wild woodland leads to the coastal path and dizzying views of the sea and Pudcombe Cove.


Devon is also home to various seaside towns, find out where they ranked in our seaside town survey results


Joint second place: Dawyck Botanic Gardens, Borders, 89%

Dawyck Botanic Gardens

Dawyck is home to some of Britain’s oldest and tallest trees - including giant Sierra redwoods and Douglas Firs.

Wooded gardens tumble down a ravine alongside a burn spanned by a high-arched bridge. 

There’s something to see all year, from autumnal colours to beautiful spring blossoms, a rhododendron walk in spring, and a carpet of luminous Meconopsis or ‘blue poppies’ in June. No wonder it scored five out of five for attractiveness.

Joint third place: Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll and Bute, 88%

Benmore Botanic Garden

There are 11km of trails to explore at this botanic garden, each leading to impressive collections of flowering shrubs and trees. 

The surrounding mountainous landscape provides a wild and beautiful setting for the naturalistic planting, as well as a habitat for red squirrels, sparrowhawks and golden eagles. There is also a collection of around 300 conifers in the old walled garden.

Joint third place: RHS Garden, Rosemoor, Devon, 88%

RHS Garden, Rosemoor

Since this garden was gifted to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in 1988, it’s been expanded into two separate areas.

Much is compartmentalised into various themed gardens including a potager, a rose garden, and the productive fruit and vegetable garden, each of which is packed with take-home ideas. 

It’s easy to make a day of it with good places to eat - backed by the four-star rating in this category.

Joint third place: Trebah Garden, Cornwall, 88%

Trebah Garden

Tantalising views of the Helford Estuary from the top of this vertiginous garden are a glimpse of what lies ahead. 

Set in a deep ravine, four miles of footpaths zig-zag through rhododendrons, jungle-like vegetation and exotic flowers. The paths pass by a series of pools and finish at the beach on a riverbank where a café meets you serving snacks and ice-cream.


Cornwall is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), discover which AONBs topped our survey results


Joint fourth place: Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthenshire, 86%

Aberglasney Gardens

There are records of a garden here dating back to the 15th century. Evidence of its former life is all around – including the Cloister Garden, which was built in the 1600s. Elsewhere there are more than 20 different garden styles to explore, from formal perennial beds to informal woodland. 

Food - awarded five stars in the survey - is served on the terrace using produce grown in the walled kitchen garden.

Joint fourth place: Inverewe Garden, Highlands, 86%

Inverewe Garden

Once a windswept, barren promontory, Inverewe now bursts with unruly and exotic growth. This remarkable transformation is down to one man, Osgood Mackenzie, who saw the potential of the site overlooking the sea and warmed by the Gulf Stream.

Now, in the hands of the National Trust of Scotland, plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas and tree ferns flourish here and grow to extraordinary sizes. 

Joint fourth place: Powis Castle and Garden, Powys, 86%

Powis Castle

The setting of Powis Castle takes some beating for impact and theatricality. 

The castle rises above a series of stone terraces topped by huge clipped yew hedges. The terraces are Italianate in style and ornamented with statues, urns and balustrades. From these you can enjoy sweeping views of the Severn Valley and faraway hills, before exploring the Orangery, formal garden and woodland walk.

Best garden in Northern Ireland: Mount Stewart, County Down, 84%

Mount Stewart

This house’s charm lies in its surprising details. Within the Italian garden is an explosion of colourful plants. Pillars run along its south side, each topped with a cement monkey.

Cement animals are also found on the Dodo Terrace as well as hedges that resemble demons. 

It’s not all quirky elements in this National Trust garden, however. There are lakeside walks, ornamental trees and pretty pergolas to enjoy. 


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