Top garden stops

Spring is tentatively in the air after the Beast from the East (even if the BftE 2.0 is threatening to sweep in before we’re in the clear). Nothing lifts the spirits after the bleak midwinter like the sight of cheery daffodils and bright crocus blooms peeping through.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite garden stops near the motorway where you can unwind and breathe in the scent of a new season.

Hutton in the Forest

M6, Junction 41

A stately manor house with imposing pele towers (a relic from the tumultuous border land conflicts) surrounded by fabulous gardens which have evolved over centuries. Stroll around the walled garden, admire the topiary or stretch your legs in the woodland.

Larch Cottage 

M6, Junction 40

A labour of love for owner Peter Stott, whose theatrical roots have seen him create a stage-worthy backdrop of plants replete with Romanesque ruins, an elaborate clock tower and dinky chapel. Soak up the views from the wisteria-trimmed terrace in the restaurant, Casa Verde.

Beetham Nurseries

M6, Junction 35

A beautiful plant nursery brimming with flowers. Wander the outdoor corridors and visit the traditional greenhouse and cutesy shepherds hut before a lunch in the airy modern cafe.

Arley Hall

M6, Junction 20

A Jacobean mansion in leafy Cheshire marooned in eight acres of beautiful gardens and famous for its arboretum and Herbaceous Border, thought to be the first of its kind in England.


Webbs of Wychbold

M5, Junction 5

Fill your lungs in the Webbs’ garden centre at Wychbold, an expansive site with themed gardens at the riverside designed by Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner Marigold Webb and abundant nearly all year round.

Rasell’s Nursery

A1, Stretton

A flourishing plant nursery with a range of inspiring borders and displays framed by tinkling water features and elegant pergolas. Enjoy a moment of peace with a cup of tea in the Tea House.

Hestercombe Gardens

M5, Junction 25

50 acres of garden restored to their Victorian glory, with contemplative ponds, a dramatic cascade, manicured lawns, and formal gardens.

Killerton House

M5, Junction 29

Sweeping parkland views, gravel paths, woodland walks, an international collection of trees and hidden features such as the bear’s hut, there’s plenty to entertain the family at Killerton House.

Duchy of Cornwall Nursery

A38, Turfdown Road

A beautiful plant nursery set in a former slate quarry over the valley from Restormel Castle. Browse the wide-ranging plant selection then settle in by the fire.

Barrington Court

A303, South Petherton

An old Tudor manor surrounded by gardens, from the large kitchen garden to fruitful orchards and a deer park. It was designed by famous garden architecture Gertrude Jekyll who is said to have advised on the best plants for the soil despite being nearly blind, simply by crumbling a sample of earth sent to her in biscuit tins.

Pythouse Kitchen Garden

A303, Junction with A350

A south facing walled garden with rich borders, a cut flower garden and a large pick-your-own plot, the old potting shed is a fantastic spot to bask in the sun with a coffee and watch the gardens tumbling down the hill.

Hobo in the Shed

M3, Junction 5

A peaceful plant and garden centre with 4,000 varieties of well-arranged flowers and shrubs, with the fabulous Hobo In The Shed cafe at its centre, where you can borrow a blanket and relax with a freshly baked slice of cake.

Dorney Court

M4, Junction 7

Browse the beautiful plant nursery in the walled gardens and grounds of the Grade I-listed Dorney Court, which features in the Domesday Book. The UK’s first pineapple is said to have been grown here and presented to King Charles II.

Shuttleworth Collection

A1, Biggleswade

Alongside the aerodrome that houses the famous collection of Shuttleworth machines is the Swiss Garden, an impressive attempt to bring the picturesque alpine scenery to England. Explore the pretty follies and ponds, enjoy the sculpture trail and spot one of the resident peacocks.

Easton Walled Gardens

A1, Colsterworth

Lost gardens in Lincolnshire with Tudor and Jacobean elements, carefully resored since 2001, Easton Walled Gardens are famous for their snowdrops in winter and riot of sweetpeas in summer – over 100 varieties of them.

Coton Manor

M1, Junction 18

The well-tended gardens in the Northamptonshire countryside are worth a visit any time of year, but the spectacular bluebell woods make a spring visit extra special.

Darsham Nurseries

A12, Darsham

It’s hard to  believe that in 2007 Darsham Nurseries was nearly derelict. Since then it has been shaken up by owner David Keleel to offer beautiful plants and inspiration to passersby, as well as wonderful home-grown food in the cafe.

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