The Great Garden Trail Challenge of Dorset

Take up the challenge and explore Dorset and visit the 6 must see gardens in Dorset showcasing the very best in English Garden design, planting and history. All the gardens are free to visit for Historic House Members and on designated dates to RHS Members. 

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.

Minterne Gardens – The Himalayan Garden

Landscaped in the manner of Capability Brown and trailing around a mile in length, Minterne boast 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.

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.

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. 

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.

For more information about the trail visit

Find out moreabout the gardens

Minterne Gardens

The secluded gardens at Minterne are set in a peaceful wooded valley.

Forde Abbey

Forde Abbey is a treasure set in the beautiful rural Dorset with award winning gardens and ponds.

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