The historic gardens at Ham House
Ham House is home to an atmospheric 17th century walled garden, on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond. While the mansion is known for its carefully conserved interiors, the garden re-creates what historically ‘might have been’, following work in the 1970s to reinstate 17th century character previously lost. Today our dedicated garden team continues to lovingly restore this secluded garden oasis.
Ham’s colourful flower borders, wilderness area and productive kitchen garden with many plants grown by 17th century residents the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale. You’ll also see many other plants grown in the UK at that time.
Our philosophy at Ham is that a garden should not be restricted by its historic roots, but inspired by them – so our planting is constantly evolving to keep the garden’s original spirit alive in a way that speaks to today’s garden lovers.
We have gardened for nature using organic principles for over a decade and, as well as being wildlife friendly, we strongly believe a garden should be people-friendly too! We hope you will make yourself at home as you take in the sights, scents and sounds.
The kitchen garden
Records show the kitchen garden has been at Ham since the 1600's and it is currently one of the most productive walled kitchen gardens in London. Tended using organic principles, it provides our café with home-grown produce all year round. From purple-podded peas to salsify, skirret and scorzonera - we aim to be as true to the 17th century as we can. Kitchen garden produce is also on display in our historic kitchen and flowers grown in our cut flower bed can be seen on the ground and first floors of the house. In the summer months, we sell Ham Vegetable Bags on Fridays and there are often cut flowers for sale too.
Don’t miss: Daily tours with volunteers and the family tasting garden
The Wilderness was part of the original 17th century garden and was a place to think and read alone. Explore all of the different compartments with their wild flowers and summer houses, the perfect spot for a picnic.
Mown lawns meander through the space to create a criss-cross of paths between tight architectural hornbeam hedges that screen the woodland plantings and historic borders. In places, the dappled shade creates the ideal conditions for drifts of early spring hellebore and pulmonaria – a plant grown for its medicinal uses by the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale.
Summer brings a display of pink dog roses, Rosa rugosa, and lily of the valley.
Don’t miss: Two statues of Venus Marina and Mercury could be seen on either side of the Wilderness entrance in the 17th century. Life size casts can still be seen here today.
This spring, Ham has seen the first of 500,000 freshly planted bulbs burst into colour as part of an exciting new garden display for spring and summer.
Inspired by the garden’s history, our Head Gardener Rosie Fyles has transformed the mansion’s vast manicured lawns and filled them with crocus, tulips, muscari and wildflowers to create a show of colour and scent throughout the warmer months.
Don’t miss: Look out for bees and other pollinators among the plants.
South Terrace Border
In the 17th century the garden at Ham, like the house, was designed to impress. We know that many rare examples of plants from exotic lands were on display and we even know some of the species which were grown. Our south terrace border is inspired by this knowledge and planted in the 17th century style, with a wide seasonal interest.Today you'll see the deep burgundy foliage of Canna lily Canna Wyoming, the tall striking shapes of Echinops ritro and artichokes with splashes of colour from iris and peony.
Don't miss: The changing floral displays in our terracotta urns - the use of containers to add seasonal interest was the height of fashion in the 17th century.
To the north of Ham’s historic house lies the Cherry Garden. Beyond tall yew hedges you’ll discover a maze of clipped box-hedged compartments, all filled with lavender. There’s structure and interest all year round, but this part of the garden really comes to life in summer when you can enjoy the gentle perfume of these fragrant plants as you walk around this once-private formal garden.
Don’t miss: the statue of Bacchus, the god of wine which is an original piece from the 17th century Lauderdale's garden.
Our garden team handpicks a selection of the very best seasonal cut flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit that they are growing in the kitchen garden every week. You can see these displays in rooms in the house. Feel, touch and smell the freshest produce and perhaps be inspired to try new varieties at home.
Don’t miss: fresh produce from our kitchen garden is available to buy in our shop, with proceeds going towards the upkeep of Ham’s historic gardens.