Getting to gardens you love doesn’t have to be car-reliant. Here is just a small selection of the many gardens across the UK that can be reached by public transport or bicycle with a little forward planning. Many, including all the RHS gardens, offer a discount for car-free travel, and you can find details of many of these at goodjourney.org.uk For details of all of the UK’s National Cycle Network Routes visit the Sustrans website sustrans.org.uk.
©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler
Home to an expansive collection of site-specific artworks, including land forms by the late Charles Jencks, the garden offers more than 100 acres of fields and woodlands that are a joy to explore.
Cycling to the gardens takes around an hour from Edinburgh mostly on a traffic-free section of National Cycle Network Route (NCR) 754 along the towpath of the Union Canal. There are also frequent bus services from Princes Street. Address Bonnington House Steadings, Wilkieston, Edinburgh EH27 8BY. Tel 01506 889900, jupiterartland.org Open May to September, daily, 10am-5pm. Admission £9. Get there By bike (NCR 754), by bus (x23, x27 from Edinburgh).
Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh © Getty Images
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape, the garden is home to ten magnificent glasshouses with ten different climatic zones and more than 8,000 plants. A 25-minute walk from Edinburgh’s Waverly station, it’s also on several bus routes and provides bike racks for cyclists. Address Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ. Tel 0131 248 2909, rbge.org.uk Open Daily (see website for times). Admission £5.50. Get there By train (Edinburgh Waverly), by bike, by bus (x23, x27 from Edinburgh).
The Alnwick Garden
The Duchess of Northumberland has overseen the redevelopment of 12 acres of garden close to the 12th-century castle, which are now home to the world’s largest Tai Haku Cherry Orchard, a Poison Garden, a Bamboo Labyrinth and the Serpent Garden. There are regular bus services, and the garden offers a 20 per cent discount on entry for bus ticket holders. Address The Alnwick, Gardeners Cottage, Greenwell Road, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 1HB. Tel 01665 511100, alnwickgarden.com Open March to October, daily, 10am-6pm, November to February 10am-4pm (closed Christmas Day). Admission £13. Get there By bus (X18, X20 from Alnmouth or Newcastle).
The gardens at Chatsworth cover 105 acres and almost five centuries of garden history, brought right up to date with Dan Pearson’s award-wining Trout Stream garden and new gardens, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. There are bus services from Sheffield, Buxton, Bakewell, Chesterfield and Matlock (Chatsworth’s closest railway station), some of which stop on the Chatsworth estate. The gardens provide bike racks and offer a £4 discount for all visitors who arrive by bus. Address Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP. Tel 01246 565300, chatsworth.org Open Monday to Friday, 11am-5.30m. Saturday to Sunday, 10am-5.30pm (check website for summer opening hours). Admission £13. Get there By bike, by bus (218 from Matlock).
Famed for its theatrical topiary, Levens Hall in Cumbria also boast a stunning Rose Garden, a Wildflower Meadow. There’s an hourly bus service from Blackhall Road in Kendal and NCR 6 from Kendal passes close to the house. For keen cyclists there is a stunning route, NCR 70, from Ulverston. It takes around two hours but the spectacular Lake District countryside is worth it. You also get £2 off the entrance fee for visiting without a car. Address Levens Hall, Kendal, Cumbria LA8 0PD. Tel 01539 560321, levenshall.co.uk Open April to October, Sunday to Thursday, 10am-5pm. Admission £10.50. Get there By bike (NCR 6), by bus (555 from Kendal, 755 Carnforth to Bowness).
Scampston Hall & Garden
This fabulous walled garden, designed by Piet Oudolf is keen to persuade visitors to leave their cars at home. It offers a 30 per cent reduction on the entrance fee for all car-free visitors. It also provides secure cycle parking, and its website lists traffic-free routes from Malton station that take around half an hour. Alternatively, there is a regular bus service from the station to Scampton Land End, from where the garden is a 20-minute walk. Address Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8NG. Tel 01944 759111, scampston.co.uk Open April to October, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission £8.50. Get there By bike, by bus (843 from Malton).
Once the private garden of talented plantswoman Sybil Spencer, who designed it with her son, Robin, this one-acre garden near Leeds has been owned and managed by Perennial, the charity for people in horticulture, since 1994. Divided into 14 rooms, it offers plenty of inspiration throughout the year. Regular bus services take around 20 minutes from central Leeds. Address Back Church Lane, Leeds LS16 8DW. Tel 0113 267 8240, yorkgate.org.uk Open April to November, Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-4.30pm. Admission £6. Get there By bus (1, 28, x84 from Leeds).
Set in more than 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown-landscaped parkland with formal gardens to explore, the home of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill is set in the heart of the of the Oxfordshire village of Woodstock. There are regular bus services from Oxford and NCR 5 provides a largely traffic-free route from Oxford, partly along the
Oxford Canal. You also get 30 per cent off the admission price for arriving without a car. Address Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP. Tel 01993 810530, blenheimpalace.com Open Daily (see website for opening times). Admission £18.50. Get there By bike (NCR 5), by bus (S3, 7, 233 and 500 park & ride).
Blenheim Palace © David Goddard/Getty Images
Oxford Botanic Garden
The UK’s oldest botanical gardens (founded in 1621) are 20-minute bus ride from Oxford Station, and feature a walled garden with formal taxonomic beds, impressive glasshouses, and the romantic Lower Garden where His Dark Materials’ Will and Lyra meet in their parallel worlds. The new Herbarium Room, also offers a chance to see treasures from the University’s scientific collections. Address Rose Lane, Oxford OX1 4AZ. Tel 01865 286690, obga.ox.ac.uk Open Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sundays 11am-4pm (see website for summer opening). Admission £6. Get there By bike, by bus (1, 5, 280 from central Oxford).
Built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, Waddesdon has extensive gardens to explore as well as a restored, four-acre walled garden, and orchard at nearby Eythrope (although tours of this must be pre-booked). From February to October Waddesdon arranges a free shuttle bus from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station and offers two-for-one entry for car-free visitors. There is also a traffic-free cycle path from the station and covered bike storage. Address Waddesdon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP18 0JH. Tel 01296 820414, waddesdon.org.uk Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission £11. Get there By bike, by train (Aylesbury Vale Parkway).
This impressive Jacobean house near Saffron Walden in Essex is walking distance from Audley End station. Surrounded by ‘Capability’ Brown-designed parkland, it also boasts a fascinating walled kitchen garden, restored to its Victorian glory by Garden Organic using an 1877 garden plan and an 1874 journal by gardener William Cresswell. Address Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JF. Tel 0370 333 1181, english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/audley-end-house-and-gardens Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm. Admission £18.50. Get there By bike, by bus, by train (Audley End).
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Many university cities have a botanical garden, but Cambridge has one of the most impressive. Covering an area of 40 acres the garden is beautiful to explore and holds a plant collection of more than 8,000 species. The garden is a five-minute walk from Cambridge railway station, lies close to NCR 11 and provides bike racks at both the Brookside and the Station Road gates. Address 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE. Tel 01223 336265, botanic.cam.ac.uk Open Daily, 10am-6pm. Admission £6. Get there By bike, by bus, by train (Cambridge).
Limestone Rock Garden at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden © Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
London Barbican Conservatory
London’s second biggest conservatory (after the Princess of Wales house in Kew) is the perfect escape on a cold winter Sunday. As well as tropical greenery, including tree ferns, date palms and coffee and ginger plants, there’s also an Arid House filled with a selection species of cacti and succulents. Address Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS. Tel 020 7638 4141, barbican.org.uk Open Sundays, 12-5pm (see website for additional dates). Admission Free. Get there By bike, by bus, by tube (Barbican).
Horniman Museum & Gardens
The 16 acres of gardens in southeast London are full of interesting features, including botanical displays that have been created to reflect themes from the museum’s displays and new Grasslands Garden, devised by James Hitchmough, that features plants currently under threat. A short walk from Honor Oak Park station and close to several bus routes. Address 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ. Tel 020 8699 1872, horniman.ac.uk Open Monday to Saturday 7.15am-sunset. Admission Free. Get there By bike, by bus (P4, 176, 185, 197), by train (Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill).
Inner Temple Gardens
Just a ten-minute walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, the gardens of Inner Temple provide a welcome sanctuary for busy Londoners. Successional planting creates opulent herbaceous borders full of colour well into late autumn and winter. The gardens also include a Mediterranean Garden and a woodland garden. Address Inner Temple, London EC4Y 7HL. Tel 020 7797 8243, innertemple.org.uk/estate-garden Open Weekdays, 12.30-3pm. Admission Free. Get there By bike, by bus and tube (Blackfriars).
Inside the Barbican Centre conservatory © Sam Mellish / In Pictures via Getty Images
One of London’s last surviving country estates in the middle of Hounslow, Osterley is a mix of formal gardens and parkland. Much of the garden has been transformed over the past six years, including the excellent Walled Garden, filled with ornamental vegetables. There are also herbaceous borders, roses and an original Robert Adam summer house full of lemon trees and highly scented shrubs. Address Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 4RB. Tel 020 8232 5050, nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley-park-and-house
Open Daily, 10am-4pm. Admission £9.60. Get there By bike, by bus, by train (Isleworth), by tube (Osterley).
The garden atop the 38-storey skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie Talkie) is one of London’s newest gardens spanning three storeys and offering 360-degree views across London. Bang in the middle of the City, the garden is close to tubes, bus routes and you’ll find bike racks round the corner in Rood Lane. Entry to the garden is free, but visits must be booked online in advance. You can also combine your visit with another new roof garden on top of Fen Court at 120 Fenchurch Street, which also free to enter and you don’t need to book in advance. Address 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 8AF. Tel 020 7337 2344, skygarden.london Open See website for details. Get there By bike, by bus, by tube (Monument).
Strawberry Hill House
The Grade II*-listed garden was created by the writer and art historian Horace Walpole for his Gothic house in Twickenham. It has recently been restored to its original appearance – including the replanting of a grove of lime trees – using 18th-century maps and paintings and Walpole’s own writings. Address 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, Surrey TW1 4ST. Tel 020
8744 1241, strawberryhillhouse.org.uk Open Sundays 11am-4pm, Monday to Wednesday, 11am-3pm. Admission £12.50. Get there By bike, by bus (R68, 33), by train (Strawberry Hill or Twickenham).
American Museum & Gardens
The exciting New American Garden at the museum is the first UK commission for US landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden (OvS) and takes the form of a circuit walk that references the development of the OvS distinctive New Perennial style. There are frequent bus services from outside Bath Spa station to the University of Bath, which is a 15 minute walk from the museum. Cycle there and you might even get a free cookie. Address Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD. Tel 01225 460503, americanmuseum.org Open March to November, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission £7.50. Get there By bus (U1, U3 from Bath Spa).
Tropical Garden at the Lost Gardens of Heligan © Tim Graham/Getty Images
Arundel Castle & Gardens
A ten-minute walk from Arundel station, Arundel Castle in West Sussex has extensive gardens that include herbaceous borders, the Wildflower Garden, Rose Garden, Stumpery and Earl Collector’s Garden – all of which are particularly impressive in April and May when the garden holds its annual Tulip Festival. Address Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9AB. Tel 01903 882173, arundelcastle.org Open April to November, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission £13. Get there By train (Arundel).
The Eden Project
In addition to its alien-looking domes that house thousands of plant species, the garden also boasts 20 acres of gardens, filled with plants from around the world, including the National Collection of Kniphofia. As you might expect from a garden that promotes sustainability, it encourages car-free visiting with a discount of £4 for everyone who travels by public transport, or on foot or by bike, and provides secure bike racks. There is a regular bus service from St Austell railway station, as well as traffic-free, gravel-surfaced Clay Trails that link the garden to the station. Address Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall PL24 2SG. Tel 01726 811911, edenproject.com Open Daily (see website for times). Admission £28.50 Get there By bike, by bus (101 from St Austell).
Eden Project © Hufton+Crow/View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Hauser & Wirth, Somerset
Piet Oudolf’s most recent garden in the UK at the art gallery Hauser & Wirth in Somerset is one of the best examples of New Perennial planting, and is a ten-minute walk from Bruton railway station, mostly on a car-free footpath. Address Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, Somerset BA10 0NL. Tel 01749 814060, hauserwirth.com Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm. Admission Free. Get there By train (Bruton).
Lost Gardens of Heligan
Restored on a shoestring budget after decades of neglect the garden is a delight, with 200 acres to explore, including Victorian Productive Gardens and exotic planting. The Pentewan Trail – an eight-mile, traffic-free section of NCR 3 between St Austell and Mevagissey – runs past the gardens, although there is a steep climb as the route leaves the river valley. There are also regular bus services from St Austell that stop conveniently inside the Heligan car park and there is a discounted admission charge for all car-free visitors. Address Pentewan, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 6EN. Tel 01726 845100, heligan.com Open Daily, from 10am-5pm. Admission £15. Get there By bike (NCR 3), by bus (G3, 102, 471 from St Austell).
American Museum and Garden in Bath © Claire Takacs
One of the more accessible Welsh gardens is home to three formal gardens: an orangery, an orchard and a garden containing a centuries-old Lebanese Cedar. Just five miles from the centre of Newport, it’s served by regular bus services and the Celtic Trail East section of NCR 4 passes the entrance. Address Tredegar House, Pencarn Way, Newport, NP10 8YW. Tel 01633 815880, nationaltrust.org.uk/tredegar-house Open Daily, 11am-4pm. Admission £11.35 Get there By bike (NCR 4), by bus (5, X5, X15 from Newport).
The Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle offers an intriguing mix of formal gardens, woodland and meadows, and has recently undergone a major restoration project that has brought its 18th-century Walled Garden back to its former glory. There is a regular 20 minute bus service from Lisburn station to Hillsborough War Memorial from where the gardens are a short five-minute walk. There are also regular bus services from Newry, Moira and central Belfast, but if cycling be aware there is no secure bicycle racks. Address Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, The Square, Hillsborough BT26 6AG.Tel 033 3320 6000, hrp.org.uk/hillsborough-castle Open Daily, Monday to Sunday, 9.30am-4pm. Admission £8. Get there By bus (38 from Lisburn, 238 from Newry).