The best summer gardens

The Main Borders in summer at RHS Garden Harlow Carr
The Main Borders in summer at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

There’s no shortage of inspiration when it comes to UK gardens - so if you’re not going abroad, take a notepad, pen and camera to some of the best.

Garden curators Jon Webster, from RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon, and Paul Cook, from RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, offer their own preferences.

Arley Hall & Gardens, Arley, Northwich, Cheshire ( 777 353)

The double herbaceous border, spanning around 100m from one end to the other, is a sight to behold in this private 10-acre garden in high summer. “It’s been in the same family for years and each generation has made a contribution to the garden,” says Cook. Crocosmias, heleniums and other sizzling border plants create a stunning display in summer and beyond.

RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey ( 260 9000)

Webster explains: “This is one of my favourites. I spent nearly 10 years working there. In summer, head for the mixed borders, which offer a very impressive vista of hornbeam hedge-backed herbaceous beds with everything from pollarded trees to dahlias, geraniums and geums at the front edge, sunflowers at the back.”

Wollerton Old Hall Garden, Wollerton, Market Drayton, Shropshire ( 685 760)

A mix of formal structure and soft planting schemes makes Wollerton an extremely special, high-quality garden. Set around a 16th century Tudor house, it covers four acres and has developed into an important modern garden in the English garden tradition with echoes of arts and crafts. The garden has significant collections of rare perennials, salvias, paniculata phlox and clematis. Admire the perfectly clipped topiary and the plantings which soften the structure.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate, North Yorkshire ( 565 418)

This wonderful garden looks at horticulture through the ages, with compartmentalised gardens starting with the Edwardian era through to a contemporary Diarmuid Gavin garden at the end, with a bright purple wall and modern container planting schemes, including everlasting flowers and a twisted sedge.

Ness Botanic Gardens, University of Liverpool, Ness ( 030 4063)

“It’s in a really dry area, on a sandstone outcrop and the gardens slope away from it on a south-facing slope,” Cook explains. “The sandstone terraces are full of amazing tender plants that you would be more likely to see in a Cornish garden than in the north west. Unusual plants include climbing senecio and blue plumbago, which are more suited to the Mediterranean, along with beautiful agapanthus and kniphofias.”

Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield, East Yorkshire ( 490 324)

Stunning gardens fringe this Norman manor house including the walled garden, which contains more than 4,000 different plant species, herbaceous borders, a jungle garden and national collection of campanulas, and a woodland walk. Check out the life-sized chess board in this family-friendly spot.

RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon ( 265 8072)

In August, visitors should not miss the hot garden, Rosemoor’s take on prairie-style planting, which is full of red, oranges and yellow flowers. Look out for Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ whose daisy yellow flowers are streaked with orange, mingling with dazzling monardas. The heat is turned up when the reds, oranges, blues and purples of salvia, lobelia, hemerocallis, kniphofia, coreopsis, crocosmia, rudbeckia and achillea join in a little later.