World ? Europe ? England

England: The Best Gardens

  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (near London): A delight in any season, everything blooms in profusion in this 121-hectare (300-acre) garden, from delicate exotics to commonplace flowers and shrubs. An easy trip from London, Kew Gardens, as it's known, possesses the largest herbarium on earth. Famed landscape architect Capability Brown helped lay out part of the grounds.

  • Sissinghurst Castle Garden (near Maidstone, Kent): A notorious literary couple, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson created this garden. Its flamboyant parentage, unusual landscaping (the grounds were laid between the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion), and location just 34km (21 miles) northeast of Cranbrook make it the most intriguing garden on London's doorstep. Overrun by tourists in summer, it's best in autumn, when the colors peak.

  • Wisley Garden (Wisley, Kent): Wisley Garden sprawls across 101 hectares (250 acres), filled with an abundance of flowers and shrubs. Maintained by the Royal Horticultural Society, it ranges from alpinelike meadows to summer carpets of flowers. In early summer, the gardens are brilliant with flowering rhododendrons. The landscaped orchid house alone is worth the trip here.

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