The best gardens to visit in Dorset

Read our guide to the most beautiful gardens to visit in Dorset

The best gardens to visit in Dorset

In this article:

Compton Acres

Located in Poole, Compton Acres is a stunning collection of gardens that encompasses ten acres of land. It is known for its exceptional horticultural variety, including Italian gardens, Japanese gardens, and heather gardens. The Italian garden features a beautiful fountain and sculptures, while the Japanese garden offers tranquility with its flowing streams and exotic plants. Compton Acres is a must-visit for garden enthusiasts as it offers a unique blend of different garden styles in one location.

Address: 164 Canford Cliffs Road, Poole, BH13 7ES
Opening Times: 10am-5pm daily

Minterne Gardens

Situated in Dorchester, Minterne Gardens is famous for its collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. This picturesque woodland garden provides visitors with breathtaking views of waterfalls, lakes, and rare plants. It was created in the 18th century and has been meticulously maintained ever since. Minterne Gardens is also known for being the filming location for various period dramas and movies.

Address: Minterne Magna, Dorchester, DT2 7AU
Opening Times: 10am-6pm daily (April to October)

Athelhampton House and Gardens

Athelhampton House and Gardens is a historic attraction located near Puddletown. The stunning gardens date back to the 19th century and feature beautiful topiary, a walled garden, and a river walk. The house itself is a Tudor-era mansion with impressive architecture and extensive collections of art and furniture. Famous visitors to Athelhampton House include King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

Address: Athelhampton, Puddletown, DT2 7LG
Opening Times: 10:30am-5pm daily

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

The Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, located in Abbotsbury, offer a unique experience due to their mild microclimate. This garden is filled with exotic plants, rare trees, and colorful flowers, creating a tropical paradise in the heart of Dorset. Visitors can explore the delightful walled gardens, woodland walks, and the stunning Victorian fernery. Notably, Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens have been featured in numerous TV shows and films.

Address: Bullers Way, Abbotsbury, Weymouth, DT3 4LA
Opening Times: 10am-5pm daily (March to October)

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne Minster, is renowned for its extensive gardens and parkland. The beautifully landscaped gardens showcase a wide array of plants, including rare and exotic species. Notable features include the Japanese garden, kitchen garden, and the imposing Cedar of Lebanon tree. In addition to the stunning gardens, Kingston Lacy boasts a grand mansion filled with a remarkable art collection, including works by Velázquez and Rubens.

Address: Wimborne Minster, BH21 4EA
Opening Times: 10am-5pm daily

Sherborne Castle Gardens

Sherborne Castle Gardens, situated near Sherborne, is a captivating destination for garden lovers. The beautiful gardens extend over 30 acres and feature a lake, herbaceous borders, and magnificent collections of rhododendrons and azaleas. The castle itself is a historic building with a fascinating history dating back over 400 years. Notable figures such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir John Digby have had connections to Sherborne Castle.

Address: New Rd, Sherborne, DT9 5NR
Opening Times: 10am-5pm daily (April to October)

Bennetts Water Gardens

Located in Chickerell near Weymouth, Bennetts Water Gardens is a unique attraction known for its stunning water lilies and natural beauty. The gardens span eight acres and house the National Plant Collection of Water Lilies, boasting over 140 varieties. Visitors can explore the Monet-style Japanese bridge, follow enchanting woodland walks, and even enjoy a boat ride on the lily-covered lake.

Address: Putton Ln, Chickerell, Weymouth, DT3 4AF
Opening Times: 10am-6pm daily (April to September)

Lulworth Castle and Park

Lulworth Castle and Park offer a delightful combination of history and stunning gardens. The gardens surrounding the castle are beautifully landscaped and feature formal areas, wildflower meadows, and a charming chapel. The castle itself is a 17th-century structure with a fascinating past, including being partially destroyed during the English Civil War. Lulworth Castle has also hosted events such as music festivals and weddings.

Address: Lulworth, Wareham, BH20 5QS
Opening Times: 10:30am-5pm daily (April to September)

Forde Abbey and Gardens

Forde Abbey and Gardens, located in Chard, just a short distance from Dorset, boasts 30 acres of internationally acclaimed gardens. Known for their vibrant colors and serene atmosphere, the gardens include a stunning herbaceous border, a beautiful arboretum, and a tranquil lake. Forde Abbey itself is a former Cistercian monastery that showcases impressive architecture and houses magnificent collections of art and furniture.

Address: Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset, TA20 4LU
Opening Times: 10am-4pm daily

Knoll Gardens

Knoll Gardens, located near Wimborne Minster, is a paradise for plant lovers, particularly those keen on ornamental grasses. The gardens are renowned for their extensive collection of grasses, showcasing their beauty and diversity. The naturalistic planting scheme and serene atmosphere make Knoll Gardens a peaceful and inspiring place to visit. The Head Gardener, Neil Lucas, is a world-renowned expert in ornamental grasses and has received numerous awards for his work.

Address: Hampreston, Wimborne Minster, BH21 7ND
Opening Times: 10am-5pm daily (March to October)

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