As seasons change, the days become brighter, and nature springs to life, Great Britain’s gardens offer a wonderful opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle and explore the awakening of nature.
Britain’s green open spaces allow for peace, calm and relaxation, all working wonders for our mental health. According to the NHS, spending time in nature and green areas can help improve your mood, reduce stress, and encourage your body and mind to relax – a wonderful way to lift the spirits of a weekend after a busy week.
As well as being good for your mind and body, escaping to Britain’s gardens doesn’t have to damage the health of your bank balance. Many gardens around Great Britain offer 2FOR1 on admission when you travel there by train with DaysOutGuide when you couple this with a Railcard, and you can save 1/3 of your rail fare there too.
Visiting Railcard gives you all the options available; whether you’re 16-25, 26-30, 60+ or somewhere in between – travelling solo, as a couple, or as a family, find the card that suits your needs and unlock your annual average savings of £140.
More than just making economic sense, travelling by train is also ideal for those wanting to live more sustainably. The average train emits 70% less CO2 emissions than a car making it one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport.
So, let’s swap the sounds of heaving traffic for birdsong, buzzing bees, peace and tranquillity, and explore Britain’s wonderful gardens at 2FOR1 prices by rail.
As London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kew Gardens is more than just a garden. It’s home to the biggest collection of living plants anywhere on Earth. From towering redwoods in the wild Arboretum to the indoor rainforest of the tropical Palm House or the floral beauty of the Great Broad Walk Borders, there’s plenty to see and explore in the fresher weather.
Hop on the Explorer land train or set foot to discover over 300 acres of natural wonders. Climb up into the canopy and stroll along the soaring Treetop Walkway, or discover how art and nature connect at The Hive, an interactive installation inspired by the lives of honeybees. Experience Kew’s royal past with a visit to Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens, or if travelling with children, let your future plant scientists and explorers run wild in the Children’s Garden.
No visit is complete without stepping inside Kew’s world-famous glasshouses, including the iconic Temperate House, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world, containing over 10,000 different plants.
Nearest station: Kew bridge
Brilliant design in vibrant colours and meticulously manicured shapes gives Pitmedden Garden its unique charm. With almost 6 miles of clipped box hedging, sculptures and built heritage, the parterres at the heart of the garden are a masterpiece of intricate patterns and fragrant flowers.
The Great Garden dates to 1675, originally laid out by Sir Alexander Seton, whose head gardener had designed gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and was similarly influenced by the French Palace of Versailles. In the 1950s, Pitmedden was gifted to The National Trust, who re-created the garden based on 17th-century plans after it was ploughed up to grow vegetables during the Second World War and used as a kitchen garden for over 100 years.
In 2021 they reimagined the upper terrace parterre for the modern world with a fresh, sustainable garden. A biodiverse, species-rich meadow weaves and drifts, offering to change patterns and colours. With its orchard of more than 200 fruit trees, Pitmedden is a delight for the senses.
From the train Station, you can walk to Union Square and get a 290 bus (Methlick) for 50 minutes to Bonnyton Road; from here, it’s a 10-minute walk to Pitmedden Garden.
Nearest station: Aberdeen
Chelsea Physic Garden
Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden is a celebration of the beauty and importance of plants.
Founded in 1673, it is one of London’s oldest botanical gardens and contains a unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, medicinal and historical plants within its sheltering walls. This hidden gem is also a peaceful green oasis – enjoy a relaxing stroll, savour lunch or afternoon tea at the award-winning Tangerine Dream Café, then browse the unique garden gifts in the Book & Gift shop.
The Garden also hosts various special and seasonal events over the year. They are inspiring, educational and always fun, highlighting new aspects of The Garden’s history and collections.
Nearest station: Battersea Park
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Being one of Birmingham’s favourite attractions, The Birmingham Botanical Gardens offer something for everyone, be it one of their four stunning glasshouses showing tropical rainforests and an arid desert, a playground, a tearoom and Japanese Gardens, all surrounded by some of the most beautiful gardens in Britain.
Colourful plants can be found in all corners of the gardens in all months of the year, just a few of which are highlighted on their plants of the month lists and in their seasonal walks. In addition, some plants in the collection stand out because of their historical association with the gardens, the people that collected them or their botanical interest.
There are always great events, from music and plays to exhibitions and craft days for the little ones. The gardens make for a great destination if you are looking for a green space in the West Midlands. With the character of a Victorian public park, a bandstand and 15 acres of landscaped greenery, whiling away a day at Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens is sure to bring joy to the senses.
Nearest station: Birmingham New Street
RHS Garden Wisley
RHS Wisley is one of Great Britain’s best-loved gardens, steeped in history and blazing a trail as a glorious future garden.
The new RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of gardeners where you can learn all about the vital work being done to help future-proof our planet. Explore a range of produce ripe for picking in their World Food Garden, sit and reflect in the Wellbeing Garden, or spot insects skimming the water’s edge in the Wildlife Garden.
For a day out that delights all the senses, challenge your guest to a race up Battleston Hill, take in the divine aromas of the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden, and gaze up in wonder in the tropical Glasshouse.
Grab a relaxing cuppa and a bite to eat at any of the gardens, or sit down for a meal full of seasonal fruit and veg, including fresh produce from the garden. Shop for your own plants to take home, artisan produce and sustainable homewares from their shop. Most importantly, take a moment to relax, breathe, and soak in the wonder of nature.
From Woking Train Station, RHS run a shuttle bus to RHS Garden Wisley from 4th February 2023 to 31st January 2024. This service is available hourly from 9 am to 5 pm.
Nearest station: Woking
Inveresk Lodge Garden
Tall trees, fragrant flowers, clear water – these walled grounds tucked away in the charming village of Inveresk, near Edinburgh, have all the ingredients for a garden paradise.
This hillside plant haven offers a sanctuary of tranquillity and a year-round feast for the senses. It has colourful borders and a heady mix of scents, including roses, honeysuckle and herbs.
The garden is split into two main areas: sloping lawns and borders at the top of the hill and the wilder woodland and ponds below.
From the train station, walk 2 minutes to Whitehill Gardens and get the number 30 bus (Musselburgh) to Rothesay Place; from here, it’s a 10-minute walk to Inveresk Lodge Garden.
Nearest station: Musselburgh
Hatfield Park and Gardens
With warmer weather on the way, there is no better time to visit Hatfield Park. Explore the outdoors with their Woodland Walks, Parkland, and Historic Gardens.
Let yourself step back in time with a tour of the Old Palace open on various dates throughout May. Surround yourself with hundreds of years of history with a visit to Hatfield House itself, which is open from June until the end of August (£9 supplement available on the day)
The Stable Yard and Coach House Kitchen also make for an ideal lunchtime spot, with free entry. There’s something for everyone to enjoy when the city ends, and the country begins.
Nearest station: Hatfield (Herts)