The British nicknamed Leeds Castle the “loveliest castle in the world” and that’s true, because the moated castle near Maidstone is really exceptionally beautiful. Leeds Castle has almost a thousand years of history, was a Norman castle and privately owned by six British queens for around 300 years. Today the property is one of the most important historical buildings in Great Britain and is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world. Leeds Castle is a real highlight on a trip through Kent.
Leeds Castle as a magnet for visitors
The castle stands on an island in the Len River and is surrounded by a moat and around 2 km² of parks and gardens. Many rooms in the castle are open for guided tours and show the splendid and – for the Middle Ages quite modern – equipment, which has been expanded again and again by changing owners.
The style of Lady Baillie, who also designed the famous gardens, was particularly formative. The showpiece of these facilities is the Mediterranean terrace, which the renowned garden architect laid out according to the lady’s original plans and which is now a magnet for visitors. Also worth a stroll through the Woods Garden with hundreds of azaleas and rhododendrons on the Len River and the Culpiper kitchen garden at the castle.
There is also a golf course, bird houses, maze and grottoes on the site. Visitors can watch falconry demonstrations or take a boat ride in the moat. Of course, traditional teatime is celebrated on a regular basis. Also worth seeing is the world’s only museum for dog collars.
Leeds Castle is a well-known venue for open air events and is open all year round. The tickets are valid for one year, so that many tourists visit the castle several times on round trips.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent is one of the most beautiful gardens in England. The extensive facility is around 25 miles from Canterbury.
The country estate Sissinghurst was bought in 1930 by the writer Vita Sackwille-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. The restoration of the property and garden became the life’s work for the couple, who lived and worked there until Vita died in 1962.
As early as 1938, the couple opened the garden gates to paying visitors and thus financed the further expansion of the facility. Today more than 190,000 visitors come to the gardens every year as part of round trips or study trips.
The garden rooms of Sissinghurst Castle
In addition to the main house and the library, there are three other buildings on the property. The imposing double tower marks the entrance to the garden world, which has been divided into 10 “garden rooms” by the owners. Accurate hedges and old walls enclose the themed gardens on the site, but also create interesting lines of sight.
At the South Cottage is the cottage garden, from which a moat with very impressive Wisteria leads the way to the canal. The orchard, nut garden and herb garden were also laid out as kitchen gardens. The spring-like linden garden was one of Harold Nicholson’s favorite projects.
The most famous and most visited garden space is the “White Garden” with its rose pavilion. It was the heart project of Vita Sackville-West, who planted the garden area exclusively with white blooming roses, lupins, lilies and other blooming perennials.
The Sissinghurst Castle Garden is looked after by professional landscapers and continues to be received through the entrance fees and proceeds from the garden shop and restaurant. The facility is open all year round. There are also events such as theater, concerts, markets.
Chelsea Flower Show
The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the most famous and largest flower exhibitions in the world. The show takes place annually on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London in the Chelsea district. The latest flower and garden trends will be presented over five days on a 4.5 hectare area. In numerous show gardens in different categories, different creative design options for the home garden are offered. Renowned experts also give lots of helpful tips on plant care. More than 150,000 people visit this traditional exhibition every year. The visitor record of 157,000 visitors was reached in 1988. The first Chelsea Flower Show took place in 1827. The colorful exhibition is accompanied by numerous art events and major cultural events throughout the city.
Awards in different categories
Awards are also given in various categories as part of the Chelsea Flower Show. Among other things, the “Best Show Garden” will be awarded a gold medal. In addition, the “Plant of the Year” award has been presented since 2010. The exhibition, which is famous far beyond Great Britain, is organized by the British charity Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). On the first two, only RHS members are allowed to attend the Chelsea Flower Show, on the other three days the exhibition is open to the public.