The Great Garden Trail of Dorset

Things to see and do Using your card

Take up the challenge and explore Dorset, visiting the six must-see gardens showcasing the very best in English Garden design, planting, and history. All the gardens are free to visit for Historic Houses members and on designated dates to RHS Members. Visit the official website for more info.

Sherborne Castle & Gardens - The Landscape Garden

A ‘Capability Brown’ English Landscape Garden awaits in the home of Sir Walter Raleigh and the Digby Family. See 42 acres of magnificent gardens surrounding a 50-acre lake. Two walks are suggested, one short and one long taking you past garden features such as the Cascade, Folly, Fossil House & Raleigh’ Seat. See beautiful herbaceous borders, champion trees & an abundance of wildlife on the lake.

Sherborne Castle

Minterne Gardens – The Himalayan Garden

Landscaped in the manner of Capability Brown and trailing around a mile in length, Minterne boasts a world-renowned collection of Himalayan Rhododendrons and Azaleas, with Spring Bulbs, Cherries, Maples and rare trees. Wander the trail and enjoy a chain of small lakes, waterfalls and streams.

Minterne Gardens 2

Mapperton House & Gardens – The Italianate Garden

One of the most distinctive gardens in Dorset, tucked into a steep north-south combe, the gardens descend from the very formal topiary gardens and Orangery to the north to an arboretum, beyond which the land unfolds in small, steep valleys, and headlands down the sea five miles away.

Mapperton Gardens is a glorious place to visit in Dorset

Athelhampton House & Gardens – The Formal Garden

Explore four walled formal gardens recreated in 1891, each featuring a pond and a fountain. The Great Court with its great 12 dominating yew pyramids are one of Athelhampton’s iconic views. Beyond the formal gardens you will find the rose garden and the south walk with cottage style herbaceous borders inspired by Gertrude Jekyll.

Athelhampton House topiary

Forde Abbey & Gardens – The Monastic Garden

Home to the highest-powered fountain in the country, the gardens include topiary-lined vistas, colourful herbaceous borders, an arboretum, and a bog garden, which together with swathes of early Spring bulbs and camellias provide all year-round interest.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

The Garden is a mixture of formal and informal flowers, world famous for it’s Camellia groves and magnolias. Noted in Dorset for its Rhododendron and Hydrangea collection and the charming Victorian Garden.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens


Sherborne Castle

Sherborne Castle & Gardens

Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5NR


Athelhampton House & Gardens

Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 7LG

Forde Abbey in Somerset

Forde Abbey

Chard, Somerset, TA20 4LU

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Buller's Way, Abbotsbury, Dorset, DT3 4LA

Minterne Gardens, Dorchester, Dorset

Minterne House & Gardens

Minterne Magna, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 7AU

Mapperton House historic country estate

Mapperton House and Gardens

Beaminster, Dorset, DT8 3NR

Sign up for our newsletter

Read more of our stories, receive exclusive content, and find out what’s on.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our privacy policy.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Become a Historic Houses member

Explore the nation’s heritage from just £68 per year.

Hundreds of the most beautiful historic houses, castles, and gardens across Britain offer our members free entry.

Also: receive a quarterly magazine, enjoy monthly online lectures, get exclusive invitations to buy tickets for behind-the-scenes tours, and take up a range of special offers on holidays, books, and other products you might like.

Join now
Forde Abbey in Somerset