Hampshire & the Isle of Wight are famed for their stunning array of country parks & gardens from the smaller more intimate landscapes to the larger woodland creations and garden-lovers are spoilt for choice with historical destinations offering an insight into centuries of horticultural heritage and giving inspiration to the next generation of garden enthusiasts.
Here is our top selection of country parks & gardens to visit in Hampshire for great days out:
Set in a spectacular 200 acre space, Exbury Gardens house the world-famous collection of Rothschild rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias with beautiful views in every season. With a steam railway, adventure play area, tea rooms, riverside walk and art exhibitions, it will captivate visitors of every age.
Established by the distinguished plantsman Sir Harold Hillier, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is an award-winning garden currently holding 14 National Plant collections, making it one of the world’s most important plant collections. Breathtaking beauty and tranquillity in every season.
A historic walled garden to a maze and tranquil sensory garden, there is a lot to explore at Staunton Country Park. The Victorian glasshouse is full of tropical plants and a giant Amazon waterlily.
Explore over 2000 acres of downland and woodland at Queen Elizabeth Country Park and enjoy the views at the top of Butser Hill. Walking routes, cycle trails, adventure trails and play areas are all available for the whole family to enjoy.
Royal Victoria Country Park has fantastic views across Southampton Water and the ancient woodlands, large open spaces, boardwalks and ponds offer something for everyone. With tree houses, walkways, a zipslide and climbing wall, there is much to discover.
Situated on the outskirts of Southampton, just off the A27, Itchen Valley Country Park is an ideal destination for a family day out. Its 440 acres of water meadows, grazing pasture, recreational fields and ancient woodland lie either side of the River Itchen.
Discover 100 years of farming heritage with the traditional Manor Farm, costumed characters and Victorian school room. Finish with a visit to the country park with its mix of woodland, riverside, open space and farmland. Here you can find family picnic areas, children’s play equipment, BBQs to hire and toilets.
Visit Lepe Country Park, with over a mile of beach is a great day out for all. Whether spending the day searching for seashore crabs and building sandcastles or enjoying the play area or a stroll around the coast to the D-Day remains or through the local nature reserve, there’s lots to do. Finish your visit at The Lookout, Lepe’s restaurant with panoramic views over the Solent – a destination for visitors whatever the weather!
Gardens with history
The garden at Gilbert White & The Oates Collection is the work of the pioneering naturalist Gilbert White and it is a wonderful mix of 18th century landscape design, practicality and ingenuity. The museum enjoys 30 acres of garden and ancient parkland with historic varieties of plants, views and tranquillity.
The nine hectares of garden surrounding the house at The Vyne have been tweaked and altered for over 400 years and are not to be missed. Two lakes, a walled garden, formal garden and meadow along with lawns and a Graham Stuart Thomas herbaceous border sit neatly inside the stunning area.
Step across the crystal clear river at Mottisfont and enter a little piece of paradise with the sound of water never far away. Carpets of spring bulbs, a stunning walled rose garden, rich autumn leaves and a colourful winter garden make Mottisfont a feast for the senses all year round.
You could visit Chawton House Library, a romantic 400-year-old manor house once owned by Jane Austen’s brother and known to her as the ‘Great House’. It’s full of historical treasures and fascinating stories, and boasts beautiful gardens and grounds.
Gardens with added extras
Located on the Isle of Wight, Robin Hill Adventure Park and Gardens are set in 88 acres of rolling woodland and downland. With great rides, engaging falconry displays and adventure play, it is also one of the best places to get up close and personal with rare red squirrels.
Located behind Marwell Hall, Marwell Zoo’s fantastic Formal Garden includes a representation of three garden styles of the 16th and 17th century. Enjoy a stroll round the knot, parterre and kitchen gardens and become acquainted with the plants and their uses.
Amble around the glorious gardens and lake that surround Paultons Park. The magnificent cedar trees are over 160 years old and there are a huge selection of different gardens to enjoy here, such as the Jungle Falls Garden, Snakes & Ladders Garden and The Spring Garden.