Wiltshire, best known for its white horses, prehistoric monuments and, of course, its famous ham. If you’re not local to the area, you may recognise the county solely as the home of Stonehenge. While these landmarks are impressive and well worth a visit, there are plenty of hidden garden gems in Wilshire that you should add to your South West itinerary.
No matter the season, there will always be a garden in Wiltshire to welcome you with vibrant colours, seasonal plants, flowers and vegetation, stunning walks and plenty of space to enjoy a breath of fresh air.
Whether you’re seasonally green-fingered or just like to appreciate nature, below are five of the best gardens in Wiltshire to suit all group sizes, interests and budgets. The range in seasonal plants, variety of sizes and availability to all budgets makes this list the of the best Gardens in Wiltshire.
When it comes to the best gardens in Wiltshire, it doesn’t get much more impressive than Bowood’s exquisite gardens and surrounding country estate. Bowood’s gardens span over 100 acres of beautifully landscaped ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland and has been home to the Lansdown family since 1754.
Explore Bowood’s terrace garden, private walled garden and the woodland garden, which all capture the best of each season. During Spring, tulips of multi-colours decorate Bowood’s Italian-inspired terrace gardens, with fragrant roses lining the upper terrace come Summer.
For a breath-taking Spring spectacle, visit Bowood’s woodland garden during the flowering season. These gardens are only open for six weeks and cover over 30 acres with an oasis of bluebells, azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons—an unmissable sight for any floral fanatic.
Behind the Private Walled Gardens, Bowood’s arboretum is home to a collection of over 700 species of trees, including 23 Champion trees, the tallest and largest of their kind in Britain. Although it’s a marvel all year-round, this arboretum truly comes into its own during Autumn when the leaves transform into rich shades of gold, orange and brown.
Little legs will enjoy Bowood’s adventure playground and life-size pirate boat. Keep an eye out for seasonal events around the grounds, such as Bowood’s Easter Eggs-travaganza.
Much like Bowood, Stourhead is one of the best gardens in Wiltshire and provides an array of seasonal colour all year-round. There are numerous walks around Stourhead’s gardens, meaning each visit can differ from your last. Start at the Manor house and wind down the woodland hill towards the magnificent lake and well-maintained gardens. Dogs on short leads are welcome in the gardens and around the wider estate all year-round.
The gardens and woodlands offer the best of each season, with stunning flowers in Spring and fiery leaves in Autumn. The wildlife at Stourhead also reflects the season, and you’ll catch glimpses of swans, dragonflies, butterflies, birds and more, depending on the time of year you visit.
If the prospect of wonderful wildlife and stunning scenery can’t tempt you, then maybe Stourhead’s fun features can! Not only will your walks be accompanied by flowers and rare birds, you’ll also encounter grottos, tunnels, waterfalls, out-houses and trails that turn any ordinary walk into something more magical.
Stourhead is owned by the National Trust, so there are parking and entry charges for non-members. The grounds and gardens are expansive, and there’s a café on-site, so be assured there is plenty to explore for a full day’s outing.
Searching for the perfect place for a picnic? Look no further than Salisbury’s Queen Elizabeth Gardens. Set in the heart of Salisbury, this Wiltshire garden opened in the 1960s to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and is still a much loved and well-maintained public space in the city. With views of the famous Cathedral and a stream running through the centre, it truly is an idyllic spot for a picnic lunch with friends or a family walk.
It’s a lovely location for little ones too, with free entry, toilets, and a newly refurbished play area. In the summer months, why not roll up your trousers and take a quick paddle in the stream? If you’re not a fan of getting wet, take to one of the garden benches with a good book and soak in the sun.
The Queen Elizabeth Gardens host a variety of events and concerts throughout the year, which are all free to attend. The popular Music in the Park concert takes place during the Summer and everyone is encouraged to enjoy an afternoon of live music with a picnic.
There is a pay and display car park nearby in Lush House car park, and easy access to the Town Path.
Corsham Court is a house dowsed in rich history dating back to 978 when it was used as a summer palace for the Kings of Wessex. Throughout the years, Lords, Ladies and Royalty have owned and stayed at Corsham, and it is now owned by James Methuen-Campbell, the eighth generation of the Methuens to live there.
The house and grounds are open to the public, with many people visiting to view Corsham’s significant art collection. The formal gardens extend for approximately 17 acres, surrounded by long herbaceous borders featuring high walls with climbers. The Wiltshire gardens have a distinct Nineteenth Century feel, which will captivate both history and nature enthusiasts.
During Spring, there are a number of mature magnolias which provide a spectacle along with Corsham’s other Spring blossoms.
There is a fee of £10 per adult and £5 per child to enter the house and gardens. However, the entry fee is halved for those who just want to visit the grounds.
Another one of Salisbury’s open spaces is Churchill Gardens. This public park is ideal for families with kids of all ages. While it might not have floral delights on the same level as Stourhead or Bowood, it does have wide-open green spaces for running wild, ball games, picnics and, in the summer, sunbathing.
Little ones will love the choice of two play areas, while teenagers and big kids will find plenty to do at the large skatepark and street sports area, built for basketball, football, rollerblading and street hockey. For any age, the green park provides the perfect space for impromptu sports or just taking in the scenery, and the outdoor gym is also the ideal spot to work up a sweat.
With a crisscross of pathways throughout the park, there are plenty of walking opportunities for you and your four-legged companion. The paths are equally as good for running or cycling.
Churchill Gardens are open throughout the year and are free for all to enjoy.
Wilshire is a country blooming with green gardens and historical estates for all to enjoy. Run wild with a game of football in one of Salisbury’s public parks, spot exotic Spring flowers in manor house gardens or bask in the fiery leaves of Autumn trees. Whatever takes your fancy, no matter the season, Wiltshire will have a perfectly glorious garden for you.