If you’re a regular reader of Hot Pink Wellingtons, you’ll know just how much I love a National Trust property. Their gardens are always absolutely beautiful, and they are guardians of some of the most famous gardens in the world, such as Sissinghurst and Stourhead. They are also wonderful places for families to explore and to teach children about nature and history. I have a huge list of favourites, but it’s definitely true that each property has a particular season when the garden is looking it’s best, so I’ve chosen a National Trust for every month of the year, so that you can visit at the perfect time.
January – Devil’s Punchbowl
For me, January is all about a brisk walk, with sweeping landscapes and frost covering the ground. You don’t get more dramatic than The Devil’s Punchbowl, which offers stunning views across the Surrey Downs. It’s the perfect place for a New Year’s walk.
February – Scotney Castle
Personally, I think Scotney Castle is beautiful throughout the year, but there is definitely something special about it on a February morning, when the fog surrounds the castle, making it seem even more fairytale than it does normally.
March – Claremont Landscape Garden
Claremont is our closest National Trust property, and while I love it on a frosty winter morning, the best time of year for me is March, when the camellias bloom on the Camellia Terrace. You’ll also see huge displays of daffodils, and it’s a great property for children to explore, with a tucked away little hut filled with dressing up clothes, a skittle alley, stepping stones, and a small but wonderful playground.
April – Hatchlands
April is about bluebells for me, and one of the best displays around is in Wix Wood at Hatchlands in Surrey. Hatchlands has extensive grounds, and it’s a bit of a walk to Wix Wood, but it’s worth it, as a sea of purple awaits you once you get there, and the sweet scent of the bluebells fills the woodland air. They do rope off the pathways, which is a bit of a bugbear of mine, as it makes taking any photos very difficult, I think people should be trusted to keep to the path, but it’s one of the best National Trust bluebell spots there is.
May – Greys Court
Greys Court is another of my favourite National Trust gardens. It’s a series of garden rooms and has a real ‘Secret Garden’ feel to it. The first garden is always a wonderful early spring display, with tulips or hyacinths, and then, later, laburnum blooming. There is a beautiful crab apple blossom tunnel, leading to an old font, which is lovely around late April. It’s also home to a beautiful bluebell wood. But it’s the wisteria in May which is undoubtedly the star of the show at Greys Court. It’s over 125 years old, and fills a hexagonal walled ‘wisteria room’ and then spills out into a huge wisteria tunnel. The scent is amazing, and the hum of bees fills the air – it’s well worth a visit, and we’ve visited every year since I first discovered it.
June – Sissinghurst
Sissinghurst is filled with beautiful displays, but its most famous is The White Garden, which usually blooms during June and July. It’s filled with a huge variety of white blooms, with white gladioli, white dahlias, and white anemonies. It was the home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, and the whole garden is a series of mini gardens, all with a different feel. To be honest, I think you could visit Sissinghurst at any time of the year and see it looking stunning! The Lime Walk looks spectacular in spring with tulips and other spring blooms, the orchards are beautiful both in spring and autumn, and the South Cottage Garden is one of my favourite spots in late summer, with reds and golds everywhere you look.
July – Mottisfont
Mottisfont might just be my all time favourite National Trust garden. When the rose garden is in bloom, it’s a spectacular sight (and smell), but there’s no doubt that it can get really busy. I like to visit in July, when the roses might be ever so slightly past their best, but you have the added bonus of swathes of lavender, and more space to enjoy the garden. Mottisfont also has one of the best children’s playgrounds, with a water pump play area which is fabulous in summer, and a boggy natural play area.
August – Nymans
My first visit to Nymans was in late summer, and despite many visits since, I’ve always felt it looks it’s best at that time of year, when the beautiful borders are still ablaze with reds, yellows and oranges. Wandering further into the garden, towards the back you’ll find the South African meadow, filled with kniphofia and other exotic blooms. It was planted in 2012 as an experiment to see whether these plants would tolerate the UK’s climate, but has been a great success and the area has been extended year on year.
September – Hinton Ampner
Hinton Ampner has a fantastic dahlia display which looks spectacular come September, with pinks and oranges filling the garden with colour. They also usually have a wonderful display of pumpkins and squashes from the kitchen garden.
October – Stourhead
The autumn colours should be looking fantastic come October and I love to take a trip to see them in all their glory. I wavered on my choice for this one, as we also love Winkworth Arboretum at this time of year, but Stourhead has to top the list for the UK’s most beautiful autumn colour display. The view across the lake, with the bridge in the foreground and the reds, golds, and burnt oranges of the trees behind, has to be ‘the’ autumn shot.
November – Prior Park
Prior Park is a small scale National Trust site, but well worth a visit. It is home to one of only a few Palladian bridges and it has a really romantic feel to it. It also has a cute little cafe hut, where you can get a hot chocolate and sip it next to one of the braziers (do check opening times for the cafe, as it’s only open on selected days), so it makes a lovely trip when the weather is colder. We visited earlier this year when we walked the Bath Skyline.
December – Waddesdon Manor
No-one does Christmas better than a National Trust house! So many properties go all out and decorate every room as it would have been at Christmas, and it really is spectacular. We’ve seen wonderful Christmas displays at Polesden Lacey, and Hinton Ampner, but my favourite property so far for a Christmas visit is Waddesdon Manor. They host a Christmas market, full of food and craft stalls, and put on a light trail in the evening, which is beautiful. We were invited to visit last Christmas, which you can read about our visit here.