Hole Park Gardens in Rolvenden, Kent are one of the best places to see bluebells and although the cold weather has held the bluebells back this year, we are nearing the time when nature transforms our woodlands into a beautiful sea of blue.
Hole Park’s website has a Bluebell Barometer, which is more popular than ever after lockdown, as visitors are keen to time their visit to make sure they see the bluebells looking their best! Many missed out last year as it was not possible to visit Hole Park in April and early May due to the pandemic.
Owner Edward Barham said: “We are now open every day and it has been wonderful to welcome our visitors back to the gardens to enjoy all the wonderful spring colour. The colder weather has held back the bluebell display this year by a couple of weeks, but as the weather warms up, we can see the bluebells coming into flower and we expect our bluebell wood to look spectacular from this weekend until about mid-May.”
Dogs are also welcome in our gardens, but we please ask owners to keep their pets on a short lead.
Around bluebell time visitors can also admire the impressive standard wisterias, rhododendrons, azaleas and delightful naturalised meadows where you can spot the wild orchids.
A circular walk leads visitors past a pleasing tree sculpture with a family of bears climbing to reach a honey pot before visitors walk through a gate into the woods to admire the spectacular bluebells and drink in the wonderful scent that fills the air. The path also leads visitors over delightful streams to the renovated solar powered icehouse before winding its way back through the magical silver haze of the wild garlic walk.
Hole Park sits quietly in the Wealden countryside within an extensive 16 acre garden and an additional 10 acres of beautiful woodlands. The gardens are laid out in a series of rooms divided by immaculately trimmed yew hedges. Around every corner there are surprises, including sculptures, ponds, attractive water features and a lovely tree swing hanging from a mature oak.
The gardens and tearooms are open daily from 1 April to 7 July before opening on Wednesdays and Thursday until the end of October. The gardens will also be open on Sundays in October. Opening hours are 11am to 6pm.
Hole Park is a family-owned estate which has been in the Barham family for the past four generations. Formalised gardens combine with natural woodland. These extensive gardens were developed, laid out and planted by Colonel Barham, the great-grandfather of the present owner, in the years between the two World Wars.
Visitors to the gardens in early April will see swathes of crocuses, narcissi and daffodils. A pretty ‘Camelia Walk’ with shade-loving hellebores takes walkers down a path flanked by flowering cherry trees. Before the bluebells take centre stage, the meadows and woodland floor are a sea of primroses and dainty blue scillas. Magnificent mature magnolia trees will also be flowering throughout the gardens and woodlands.
In May the gardens are full of tulips, roses and clematis and the vineyard garden has several impressive standard wisterias to admire. Rhododendrons and azaleas flower throughout the gardens and the delicate wild orchids will start to flower in the meadows alongside the architectural spires and star-shaped flowers of ‘camassia’. The sundial garden provides an interesting view over the Wealden countryside through an oval shaped window in the topiary hedge.
Visitors to the gardens in the summer months can see the recently renovated long herbaceous borders. Half the border has been replanted in the original pink and blue planting scheme first used by the late Christopher Lloyd when he first designed the border at Hole Park. The remainder of the border was replanted using the original colour scheme of yellow and white.
Late Summer and Autumn Highlights
The late flowering agapanthus ‘Hole Park Blue’ and colourful exotic border with its cannas and dahlias are an impressive sight in late summer before the reds, yellows and golds of autumn appear bringing colour and interest to the gardens in October. Visitors can enjoy the annual Napoleonic Re-enactment Weekend at the end of September.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Weald; the garden was also crowned Kentish Garden of the Year in 2016 by Visit Kent and Kent Life Magazine.
A circular network of hard paths enables visitors of all ages, including those who require a wheelchair, to enjoy the gardens. Wheelchairs may be reserved free of charge and there are full disability WC facilities.
Light lunches and delicious homemade cakes are available in the coach house. Local apple juice, local beer and homemade jam and honey produced on the Hole Park Estate can also be purchased. There is also a small plant stall next to the coach house.
Admission: £9 for adults and £1 for children (5 to 18). The gardens are open 11am to 6pm.
Season tickets £25 each.
Groups can request a Guided Garden Tour for £3.50pp (£50 minimum fee applies)
Group visits available any time by arrangement. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a dedicated tearoom for groups, free parking for cars and coaches and conducted tours can also be arranged for groups by prior arrangement.