Discover 10 Of The National Trust’s Hidden Gems

Alamy Stock Photo © Mounds of plants in border edged with lavender, grassy path leading to sundial and bench

This year we’ve spent more time in our gardens than ever before. But perhaps the most famous and well-loved gardens in the UK are the historic gardens of National Trust properties.

Not only do National Trust gardens provide a scenic, socially distanced day out, but their gorgeous planting, manicured lawns and quaint water features offer inspiration for anyone looking to spruce up their own outdoor space.

Please note that at present you must book ahead to visit National Trust properties – find details here.

To help inspire both UK trips and garden renovations, Rated People has created an index of every National Trust garden in the UK, using both Instagram hashtags and Google reviews.

Especially for those who prefer quieter gardens, Rated People has revealed the hidden gems which are least reviewed… but most highly rated.

Northern Ireland boasts the most NT hidden gems, with 3 featuring in the top 10. In addition to Rowallane Garden in the top spot, The Argory Wooded Riverside Estate in County Armagh and Florence Court Parkland and Gardens in County Fermanagh rank 7th and 8th, respectively.

Top 10 Hidden Gem NT Gardens (based on Google reviews)

  1. Rowallane Garden, County Down, Northern Ireland

    Gravel path with beautiful borders

    The Walled Garden at Rowallane. Pic: Peter Clarke

    Originally brought to life by Rev John Moore in the 19th century, there are beautiful woodland areas to stroll through, and a pleasure garden and wildflower meadow to delight the senses. Gardens within gardens mean there’s lots to discover here. Also in autumn there is a spectacular range of fungi to be seen in the woodland areas.

  2. Felbrigg Hall Parkland and Gardens, Norfolk

    Beautiful circular path and box hedge around circular bed and old brick dovecote

    The Dovecote in the Walled Garden at Felbrigg Hall, Gardens and Estate, Norfolk. Pic: Alamy

    The estate at Felbrigg comprises 520 acres of woods, with rolling parkland, a lake and waymarked paths. Also home to a number of species of wildlife, Felbrigg is popular with families and nature enthusiasts alike. The gardens boast ancient fig trees and an orangery.

  3. Gunby’s Gardens, Lincolnshire

    Lupins roses delphiniums in herbaceous borders at Gunby the garden in early summer, brick arch behind

    Lupins, roses and delphiniums in herbaceous borders at Gunby Gardens in early summer. Pic: Alamy

    From sheltered walled corners to wildflower areas and sweeping lawns, the Gunby gardens offer something of interest whatever the season. Walk under the Apple Pergolas and enjoy the view from the Blue Temple.

  4. Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

    View from a window of beautiful garden with trees, beds and circular hedge with paths, parkland beyond

    Looking towards the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst Castle. Pic: Alamy

    Formal elements mix with wilder areas in this richly varied garden. Kentish cobnuts, a variety of hazelnut, create a shady haven for birds and visitors alike in the Nuttery, while warm reds and gold mark out the South Cottage Garden, which is a riot of colour in late summer and autumn.

  5. Lacock Abbey Grounds, Wiltshire

    View through trees to historic stone building

    Lacock Abbey in the village of Lacock. Pic: Alamy

    Walk beneath the leafy canopy of the woodland garden at Lacock and you can lose yourself in the colours and smells of nature. Discover paths taking you to the rose garden and apple orchard and relax on the lawns with a picnic.

  6. Gibside Gardens and Parkland, Tyne & Wear

    Wooded slope down to still pond reflecting slim stone column

    The Column of Liberty, part of the 18th-century landscaped ‘forest’ garden at Gibside. Pic: Alamy

    Gibside offers miles of woodland and riverside walks with views across the Derwent Valley. Explore an architectural gem of a Chapel and orangery which sit among pockets of peaceful woodland. Watch out for red kites as they soar above the famous tree-lined avenue.

  7. The Argory Wooded Riverside Estate, County Armagh, Northern Ireland

    Old fashioned roses in box-edged beds and sundial in garden beside mellow brick building

    The rose garden at The Argory, Armagh, 19th Century National Trust property

    The charming rose garden is filled with dwarf rose bushes in box-edged beds, which are planted around the sundial and bloom all summer long. The second formal garden, a much larger area, is called the Pleasure Grounds. The mixed borders carry a wealth of plants, many of them scented.

  8. Florence Court Parkland and Gardens, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

    Path through wildflower meadow, stately home in middle distance

    Florence Court near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Pic: Alamy

    This stunning 18th century Irish estate serves up sweeping vistas on two spectacular routes designed for walkers of all abilities. Take a gentle stroll around the forest park and pleasure grounds on the 2.2 mile Blue Trail or get more active with the challenge of the 5.6 mile Red Trail.

  9. Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall

    Flowering shrubs and ferns surrounding pond, arched wooden bridge

    Pond with flowering rhododendrons and tree fern, Trengwainton Garden, near Penzance. Pic: Alamy

    Trengwainton is a sheltered garden bursting with exotic trees and shrubs. It’s also a member of the Quiet Spaces scheme and in two areas you are invited to switch off your phone and enjoy the peace.

  10. Antony Landscape Garden, Cornwall

    Mounds of plants in border edged with lavender, grassy path leading to sundial and bench

    The flower border in the Summer Garden at Antony House. Pic: Alamy

    The 18th century Antony House is set within a magnificent landscape garden. It’s still home to the Carew Pole family, who have lived here for 600 years.

Relaxation and inspiration

Adrienne Minster, CEO of Rated People commented, “Homeowners have been transforming their gardens to make the most of summer days outside. A day out to a larger garden can provide a welcome change of scenery while also giving us an opportunity to stretch our legs and find some gardening inspiration.

“While there is still a need to maintain social distancing, many people are opting to spend their days out in open spaces. National Trust gardens provide scenic day trips across the country.

“For those who are hoping to come across fewer people for easier social distancing, we’ve also found the best hidden gem gardens, providing quieter, less crowded options.

“We were glad to see that both lists had gardens spread out across the UK, providing multiple options for people looking to explore locally or visit during a staycation.”

To read more about the research visit here.

Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!