From a garden with its own microclimate to a water garden filled with water lilies, here's our pick of the best gardens to visit in Dorset.


For more inspiration for days out, don't miss our guide to the best sculpture gardens and Britain's best mazes.

Gardens to visit in Dorset

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

This microclimatic English garden by the seashore is protected by belts of evergreen oak. The garden is a haven for unusual tender species, and features an interesting plant centre. Visit in spring for its camellias and magnolias, and in high summer for its hydrangeas and diverse tender perennials.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Buller’s Way, Abbotsbury, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4LA,

Bennetts Water Gardens

This water garden is home to the National Plant Collection of water lilies, displayed across a patchwork of ponds and lakes.

Along the lakeside trail you'll see a tropical house, woods and a Monet-style Japanese bridge. Complete your day with a cream tea at Cafe Monet.

Bennetts Water Gardens, Putton Lane, Chickerell, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4AF,

Forde Abbey, Dorset

Forde Abbey's tulip display
© Jason Ingram

The award-winning gardens of Forde Abbey have the highest-powered fountain in the country, shooting skywards 160 feet. The Great Pond is the only monastic structure that remains in the garden. Water cascades from this down to the Canal and Mermaid Ponds then into the Long Pond.

Elsewhere in the gardens you'll find topiary, an arboretum, bog garden and swathes of tulips in spring.

Read more about Forde Abbey's tulip display.

Forde Abbey Estate, Chard, Somerset TA20 4LU,

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is an opulent family home built to resemble a Venetian Palace. Visitors can enjoy a picnic on the south lawn, wander through the Japanese Garden and Kitchen Garden, then explore the vast 8,500 acres of estate.

For children there are two new play areas at Kingston Lacy, and they host outdoor theatre productions in summer.

Kingston Lacy, Wimborne BH21 4EA,

Sculpture By The Lakes

Sculpture By The Lakes

These 26 acres of botanical gardens are a tranquil place to reflect and while away the long slow hours. Enjoy 30 permanent sculptures by acclaimed artist Simon Gudgeon, unpack a picnic by the water or treat yourself to a ‘field to plate’ lunch in the cafe. Because of deep and fast flowing water, the gardens have a 'no children under 14 (including babies) and no dogs' policy.

Sculpture By The Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8QU,

Abbey Farm Flowers

Abbey Farm Flowers

A spectacular setting for a cutting garden – in the grounds of a medieval abbey on the Jurassic Coast. They've recently added more beds for a more diverse mix of shrubs, annuals and perennials. The garden welcomes hen and birthday parties as well as general visitors for pick your own sessions, and they can arrange workshops, such as hand-tied bouquet making. Tea, cakes and ice creams are available to fuel your flower picking.

Abbey Farm Flowers, Church St, Abbotsbury, Weymouth DT3 4JJ,

Knoll Gardens

To understand the diversity of any group of plants, you need to find a place where you come away feeling more educated and competent in the cultivation of that group. For grasses this place is Knoll Gardens in Dorset. Neil Lucas and his team have developed a fantastic range of grasses and honed methods of cultivation so that the rest of us can more easily use them in different environments. Here in the gardens they are seamlessly associated with shrubs, trees and other perennials to great effect. Chosen by Tom Brown

Knoll Gardens, Stapehill Road, Hampreston, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 7ND,

Brothers Farm

Brothers Flower Farm
© Lucy Shergold

Originally growers of blueberries, brothers Dan and Josh Benson started growing flowers in 2018. While pick-your-own isn't available on the flower field, visitors can choose their blooms from buckets of daily cuts in the cafe, which serves fresh coffee and blueberry bakes. Open from May to the end of August.

Brothers Farm, Trehane Nursery, Stapehill Road, Wimborne BH21 7ND,


Don't miss our gardens to visit guide


Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.