Kent is known the world over as "The Garden of England". And with good reason. It may have originated because of the vast areas of fruit orchards, but it's also a county with an enviable array of beautiful gardens, of all shapes, styles, and sizes.
Large formal gardens, such as those at Hever Castle, are breathtaking in their intricacy. Large parkland gardens, like those at Leeds Castle and Quex House, and wonderful for walking, and continually offer something different as the seasons change. There are smaller gardens set in already picturesque surroundings, perfectly demonstrated by the Vita Sackville-West designed marvel at Sissinghurst Castle. And of course, there are new horticultural marvels still being brought into being by enthusiastic plantsmen - you only have to take a trip to Tom Hart-Dyke's renowned "World Garden", at Lullingstone Castle, to witness this.
But the real joy can often be found away from the large estates and well-to-do stately homes. Kent is a county of gardeners, and this is best seen in the late spring when countless villages and small towns host "garden safaris". A single ticket will give you a rare opportunity to wander into everyday back gardens of the villagers, all usually a mass of colour, and immaculately tended. From council houses to cottages, you will witness some beautiful designs, and come away with not just some great ideas and inspiration for your own garden, but usually some new friends too!
Lastly, don't forget the many public parks and gardens that adorn the towns and villages of Kent. Even here, you'll be delighted at how many hidden gems you can discover, and of course these also have another advantage - they're free!
You can also visit the website for the National Gardens Scheme, which lists private gardens in Kent that can be visited and any donations go to various charities including The Macmillan Trust and Marie Curie Cancer Care.