Relax in the garden at Ightham Mote
Nestled at the foot of a deep valley, the gardens at Ightham Mote occupy fourteen acres, with a sequence of water features running throughout. Without a famous plant collection, garden design or design style associated with them, the gardens have developed (like the house) with the ideas of each successive owner.
As you walk down the slope and turn the corner, you'll arrive at the North Lawn with its 18th century cascade and terraced walks on either side. Originally the site of a lake, it was drained in the 18th century to create a bowling green, which was depicted much later in the painting 'A Game of Bowls' by John Singer Sargent.
Wander around the house, and past the tower to discover the Enclosed Garden hidden behind ragstone walls. This secluded, paved garden with 'secret garden' beyond provides a charming place to spend some time. Sunlight dances off the cherub fountain in the centre, whilst the soft colours and foliage of the planting scheme reflect an American's idea of a traditional English garden.
Coming out of the enclosed garden, the original entrance was from the driveway sweeping down from your right (the gates were originally to your left). Imagine riding through the gates and dismounting from your horse on the mounting block to start your visit. Today, as you walk into the stable courtyard, there is a formal lawn in front of the workers' cottages with bright herbaceous borders on either side.
The formal garden, with its saucer pond in the centre and four symmetrical beds has been an Italianate garden, and also a rose garden. Today, the garden has formal bedding displays, which are designed and changed twice each year by a different member of the gardening team.
Stepping through the high hedge, the cutting garden provides beautiful cut flowers for the house and fresh fruit and vegetables for the Mote Café. The scent from the cutting garden is especially good at the end of June and into July when the sweet pea walk is at its best.
Catching the early morning sun, the orchard was probably the site of the original 16th century kitchen garden. Featuring historic varieties of apple trees, which in March / April sit amongst a carpet of daffodils, the orchard is a lovely place to sit and admire the view. In late September / early October, the apples become the star of the show as they ripen and then can be tasted and bought at our annual Apple and Orchard event. In 2016, the historic pathway through the orchard was reinstated to allow year round access to the garden.
Long herbaceous border
On the other side of the orchard wall, the west terraced walk boasts a fine herbaceous border, with rustic wood archways across the grass pathway featuring climbing roses. Its long season of interest is provided by a variety of bulbs in spring, and the display of flowers and foliage from July to September and often into October.
With a meandering stream, ornamental lake, informal lawns and specimen trees, the pleasure grounds at the north end of the garden have their origins in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was a period when many newly discovered exotic trees and other plants were being collected and planted in gardens. Significant planting was carried out during the ownership of Victorian naturalist Prideaux John Selby who had a great interest in trees. Although many of the finest trees were uprooted in the hurricane of 1987, it is still an ideal place to enjoy a gentle stroll; sit down and have a picnic; take in the views or simply relax in a deckchair and listen to the sound of the wind in the trees or birds singing.
Taking you up some steps under the canopy of trees, the eastern pathway works its way back to Visitor reception above the Eastern Terrace. The cherry trees on the bank below are underplanted with snowdrops, primroses and daffodils, to create a cheery display in the early months of the year.
A lost garden
To see the house reflecting in the water at the south lake, you'll need to join one of our complimentary garden tours. The south lake pleasure grounds, are also of 18th or 19th century origins, but following their decline in the early 20th century, the area became overgrown by invasive weeds. We're continuing to bring this once lost area back to life so we can develop the area as both attractive pleasure grounds and a haven for wildlife.
For opening times, please click here. Some areas may have to close at short notice due to weather / ground conditions. Parts of the gardens are closed during the winter months.