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Five great gardens to visit in summer

Plantsman Andy McIndoe shares a few of his favourite summer gardens to visit this year.

East Ruston, Old Vicarage

Summer is a great time to go garden visiting. My garden often runs out of steam when the first flush of roses has passed and early summer herbaceous and shrubs have had their day. So mid and late summer is a great time to get out there and see what is providing the colour and interest in gardens in the later part of the summer season. These are five gardens that I can thoroughly recommend for late summer inspiration.

The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park

I love this garden, near Virginia Water in Surrey, in any season. However those wide herbaceous borders are a sight to behold in late summer. These have been completely restored in recent years, following an infestation of perennial weed. The new planting features dahlias, heleniums, crocosmias, exotics and a host of exciting plants to grow in your garden. That’s not all: the hydrangeas are fantastic and the rose garden well worth a look to see what repeats and what succumbs to disease. Find out more at the Savill Garden website.

Savill Garden
The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park. Image: Andy McIndoe

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

This may seem like a surprising recommendation, but take the tube out to Stratford, explore, and you will see what I mean. It’s a great place to see prairie planting: both the schemes by Piet Oudolf and the world prairies by Dr Jim Hitchmough. The standard of horticulture is amazing in a public park and one that is so well used. There are lots of ideas for different perennial subjects and grasses that colour the late summer in naturalistic schemes. Expect to fall in love with agastache, rudbeckia and helianthus. Find out more at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website.

Piet Oudolf beds
Piet Oudolf beds in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

Bourton House, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire

A stunning 3-acre garden with amazing topiary and knot gardens, luxuriant herbaceous borders a stunning setting. I love this Cotswold garden and always come away inspired by planting combinations that could work in my garden. With Batsford arboretum down the road and Hidcote and Kiftsgate not too far away this is a good garden to plan a couple of days of visits around. However as grand as the other gardens are, this is the one you will feel an affinity with. Visit the Bourton House website.

Bourton House
Bourton House, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire. Image: Andy McIndoe

Trebah, Cornwall

The setting may be straight out of Daphne du Maurier, but the plant palette is global. Of all the Cornish gardens this is the one I would choose for a summer visit, even as part of a family holiday. This is a child and dog friendly garden with wow factor for horticulturists. Palms, tree ferns, giant gunneras, jungle trails are only part of it. With 4 acres of blue hydrangeas what’s not to like? Great restaurant, magical beach and elements of adventure play: the only garden my kids ever wanted to return to. Visit the Trebah website.

Hydrangeas at Trebah
Hydrangeas at Trebah. Image: Andy McIndoe

East Ruston, Old Vicarage

Truly an amazing private garden in an incredible situation up on the north Norfolk coast. This is a series of around 20 individual gardens, all quite different in style from tropical to meadow, desert to traditional. Some wildly over the top, some delightfully understated. Whatever your taste there is something to please and I guarantee you leave with your mind reeling, struggling to recall all that you’ve seen.  The creators of the garden, Alan Gray and Graham Robeson have truly indulged their creativity and continue to do so. If you’ve visited before, go again, you’ll find something new, what is more it’s a plantsman’s paradise. Find out more at the East Ruston Old Vicarage website.

East Ruston, Old Vicarage
East Ruston, Old Vicarage. Image: And McIndoe


There are so many great gardens to choose from, picking a few of my favourites has been a challenge. Do get out there and make the most of them, especially on those dull days when the sun isn’t shining. That’s when you can really enjoy being in a garden and certainly it is when you will take the best pictures.


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