National Heritage Gardens Quest

A cool wet climate might make life miserable for humans but plants love it. It is one reason why Britain is blessed with some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. We have collated our favourites into the 'National Heritage Garden Collection', a horticulture equivalent of the National Heritage Fleet, which is itself a boat equivalent of Grade I listed buildings.

We had to create some rules to down-select a manageable number of inductees. If you are wondering why Chatsworth and Stowe are not on the list, it is because we have excluded the Grade I gardens on Historic England's 'Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England'. They are in a separate Quest. We have also excluded academic and reference gardens, like Kew and Chelsea, for which we intend to create a Quest when we have finished visiting them. We are left with horticultural gardens that are designed for ornament or fancy, to adopt Liberty Hyde Bailey's definition of horticulture. In other words, Giverny-esque gardens that are prodominantly populated with flowers, shrubs, fruit, borders, rockeries and hedges. This is a Quest, so we had to qualify out private and inaccessible gardens.

The core of the Collection comprises the four RHS gardens, the most popular National Trust gardens, and gardens that were created by Britain's greatest horticulturalists. The list is filled out with some professional selections that turn up regularly on 'Britain's Best Garden' lists.

Two points of note. One is that, by and large, these gardens are closed over the winter and best seen in the spring and summer. The other is that if you do not complete the Quest by the end of 2020, you will also have to visit RHS Bridgewater which we intend to add once it is open. Your reward for visiting all 24/25 gardens is the title Master Horticulturalist. There is an intermediate title for visting 12 gardens.