Gardens & Parks in Dorset

Dorset’s mild climate makes it a perfect location for some magical gardens and horticultural masterpieces. Take in the grandeur of these beautiful gardens and parks, some of which have been painstakingly cared for over hundreds of years. 

Explore Dorset's amazing gardens and find your corner of paradise.

Dorset’s subtropical paradise

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens has a unique micro-climate that enables exotic plants from around the world to thrive. The garden has vibrant displays of Camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons and hydrangeas, while the formal walled gardens overflow with subtropical colour. This 20-acre walled Victorian garden makes for a lovely day out. 

Make sure you don’t miss the viewpoint at the top of Magnolia Walk with its stunning views over Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.

Dorset’s secret garden

Hidden among the rolling hills of Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck is Careys Secret Garden. Left wild for many years this walled Victorian garden was rediscovered in 2019 and has undergone extensive restoration. It is now a welcoming space that aims to inspire a return to nature. Created with expertise in Rewilding, Permaculture and Natural Gardening, Carey is open to a small number of visitors every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Visitors can expect to see an Arid Garden, Rose Garden, Traditional Orchard and local wildflower meadow, Tea and Herb Garden, Fruit cage and cut flower garden and vegetable beds. The latest edition is the exciting Stumpery and Food Forest area. 

Beautiful water gardens

For those who love water gardens, a trip to Bennetts Water Gardens is a must. Set over eight acres the garden holds the National Plant Collection of Water Lilies, with 140 varieties. Visitors can explore the Tropical House, Woodlands Walk and Museum. Don’t miss the Claude Monet style Japanese bridge over the lake for a postcard-perfect photo opportunity. 

Dorset’s botanical garden

Did you know that Dorset is home to the largest private botanical garden in the UK? Keyneston Mill has over 1,500 varieties of aromatic and scented plants over 50 acres. The creative home of Parterre Fragrances, plants and ingredients are grown and distilled to make Parterre Fragrances luxury perfumes.

Keyneston Mill also offers various events and workshops throughout the year for visitors to experience; Perfume workshops, floristry and botanical silk dying. In addition, visitors can relax and enjoy a delicious meal at the Scented Botanical Bistro-Café.

Historic gardens

Dorset is home to some truly beautiful historic houses and castles with stunning gardens to match. Choose from Mapperton House and Gardens, Athelhampton House and Gardens and National Trust’s Kingston Lacy. 

Mapperton House and Garden is a magnificent Jacobean manor overlooking a large Italianate Garden, with an orangery, fountains, statues, herbaceous boarders and bold topiary. Onsite there is the Coach House Cafe which offers delicious snacks and meals using locally sourced produce. 

The stunning Athelhampton House is a 15th century manor-house surrounded by Grade I Listed Garden. The garden dates back to 1891 and is full of beautiful vistas, a great day out offering something for everyone. 

The beautiful country mansion Kingston Lacy is set in extensive parkland and attractive formal gardens located just outside of Wimborne Minster. Spring is a great time to visit, when visitors can see the snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells down Lime Avenue and cherry blossoms in the Japanese Garden. 

Where will you visit?

If you’re still undecided, here’s our garden video for some botanical inspiration for your next visit to Dorset. 

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Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

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Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is open between 19 March - 30 October 2022. The perfect day’s adventure, this island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step...

Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle is not only a beautiful and historical building, but the surrounding grounds are perfect for a relaxing stroll or a family picnic on the lawns. There is direct access to both...

Keyneston Mill

The creative and experimental home of Parterre Fragrances, Keyneston Mill is a private botanic garden dedicated solely to aromatic and scented plants. Here the key ingredients for our luxury, niche...

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is an elegant 17th century Italian inspired country mansion set in attractive formal gardens and extensive parkland. Step inside the residence of the powerful and flamboyant Bankes...

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

To inject a sense of fun into your family days out then head to Moors Valley Country Park and Forest to get active in the outdoors and have yourself a family adventure. You are sure to find something...

Museum of East Dorset

Located in the heart of the beautiful market town of Wimborne Minster, visitors can discover the story of East Dorset with stunning Roman wall paintings, the fascinating childhood gallery and a unique...

RSPB Arne Nature Reserve

Arne Nature Reserve is situated on Poole Harbour and within the Dorset Area of Natural Beauty, it's a stunning landscape which consists of dramatic open heathland and ancient oak woodland. ...

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands (Radipole and Lodmoor)

The RSPB Weymouth Wetlands nature reserves are hidden gems in the heart of Weymouth.  Comprises of 2 reserves (RSPB Radipole Lake and RSPB Lodmoor) and a Discovery Centre.  Nestled in...

Athelhampton House and Gardens

Athelhampton is one of the finest 15th Century manor-houses and is surrounded by one of the great architectural gardens of England. The house contains many finely furnished rooms including The Great...

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Heritage & Culture

Discover Dorset's rich and intriguing heritage and soak up the atmosphere of bygone eras.

Cafes & Coffee Shops

If you're looking for a snack or drink, you’re never too far from a café or coffee shop in Dorset.

Eating Out

Enjoy some of the freshest, local produce at one of Dorset cafes, pubs or restaurants

Accommodation

Dorset has a fantastic range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.