In January 1895 ago the National Trust was formed by three remarkable people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. They were united by their love of nature and history and wanted to protect places for the enjoyment of future generations.

R. ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’

Fast-forward 125 years and the National Trust is one of our most-loved institutions. It looks after over 500 historic places and 250,000 hectares of countryside and connects over 26.9 million people every year with beautiful spaces.

To mark the anniversary, we asked Gardens Illustrated readers to choose their favourite National Trust garden. There were a flurry of responses over the twelve days we ran the poll and the three winners were three of the Trust's most beautiful gardens. Scroll down to discover the winners, and let us take you through a few others which were strong favourites.

Popular outsiders included the beautiful Cotehele in Cornwall, a Tudor house with a mill, with gardens that stretch down to the River Tamar. The gardens themselves are listed as Grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.

The romantic riverside gardens of Mottisfont in Hampshire also captured your hearts and perhaps, more specifically, the rose garden, home to old rose cultivars. This is a garden with the largest specimen of a London plane tree in Britain.

Bodnant Garden in Wales was a close contender too. The garden spans over 80 acres and overlooks the Conwy Valley. The garden, founded by Henry Davis Pochin, was developed by five generations of one family. Edward Milner redesigned the land and together the two men created a beautiful space which includes its famous Laburnum Arch.

But the three winners were below:

1st place: Sissinghurst Castle Garden

The beautiful garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent was created by the writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband, author Harold Nicholson. It is an obvious but very worthy choice as the top contender in this survey, as it has captured so many hearts and minds since, and before, it was bequeathed to the National Trust following Sackville-West's death in 1962.

Michelle Cain is head gardener at the space, don't miss her in our January issue of Gardens Illustrated, and she looks after its remarkable roses, considered to be one of the world's best collections. Read more about the roses here. Sissinghurst Castle Garden is open throughout the year.

2nd place: Hidcote Manor Garden

Located in Gloucestershire, Hidcote is one of the most well known arts and crafts gardens in the country. Created by American Lawrence Johnson, who had moved to Britain with his mother Gertrude Winthrop, who bought the manor in 1907. Johnson was influenced by the work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll and the garden's various 'rooms' are created with many hedges, hornbeams, yews and walls.

Hidcote is open on weekends until 17 February, when it is open throughout the week until the beginning of November.

3rd place Waddesdon Manor


The very grand Waddesdon Manor is a French Renaissance-style chateau that was build by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. The Victorian style garden were laid out by French landscape architect Elie Lainé and are listed Grade 1 on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. There are Italianate fountains to the north and south of the house and a cast-iron aviary still stands on the gardens. The grounds of Waddesdon Manor are closed until 1 February 2020 and the house reopens on 28 March 2020.


Daisy Bowie-Sell is digital editor of Gardens Illustrated. She has previously worked as a journalist for publications including the Daily Telegraph, WhatsOnStage and Time Out London