Explore the private garden at Knole

Lord Sackville’s stunning private walled garden at Knole is open to the public on Tuesdays, April to September.

Lord Sackville’s private garden is a magical space featuring sprawling lawns, a walled garden, an untamed wilderness area and a medieval orchard.

Every Tuesday from April to September, visitors can enjoy Knole’s enchanting 500-year-old garden. Access is through the beautiful Orangery where doors open to reveal the secluded lawns and majestic walkways of the Sackville family’s private space.

The garden at Knole has existed since the early 15th century and has been extended over the years. The Kentish ragstone walls that surround the garden were added during the tenancy of the Lennard family, who leased the property from 1574. The walls run for almost one mile enclosing the entire 26-acre garden, interrupted only by a series of wrought iron gates providing far-reaching views over the surrounding parkland.

There is much to explore in the garden, from formal spaces with lawns and borders to the wilderness area with meandering mossy paths and hidden clearings. The peaceful walled garden and orchards provide the perfect place for a contemplative stroll.

Knole's floral paths provide the perfect place to stroll
Lord Sackville’s stunning private walled garden at Knole is open to the public on Tuesdays, April to September.

The walled garden

The walled garden is one of the oldest features of the garden at Knole and probably marked its original boundary at the time of Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury. From here there are stunning and rarely-seen views back to the beautiful south front of the house.

Medieval gardens often had a series of enclosures but few have survived, making Knole’s walled garden (within a walled garden) particularly special. In the past the space was used as both an ornamental garden and an orchard and is currently a beautifully-ordered vegetable garden. Visitors can stroll along the garden’s central pathway and out through the stone arch at the bottom of the enclosure where a towering cypress oak stands.

The stunning south view of Knole from the garden
The stunning south view in the garden at Knole, Kent

Explore the wilderness

The area beyond the walled garden is known as 'the wilderness' and is much less formal than other parts of the garden, with its mossy paths meandering through the trees to grassy clearings. This area is the largest part of the garden and there are charming views back towards the east face of the house from here.

Highlights of the wilderness include the patte d’oie (or goose foot), a clearing where several pathways radiate from a central space and a common feature in late 17th century gardens. The wilderness is also home to one of the garden’s four natural springs and the atmospheric bog garden, a large sunken clearing inhabited by enormous skunk cabbages.

Closer to the east side of the house is a low hedged area which is a Victorian re-creation of a Tudor knot garden, characterised by its highly formal design and subtle plantings contained in a square frame.

Bluebells are a beautiful sight in the wilderness during the spring
Lord Sackville’s stunning private walled garden at Knole is open to the public on Tuesdays, April to September.

Other highlights in the garden

Visitors can walk along the garden's green alley – a grassy unbroken path which runs around the perimeter of the garden hugging the ragstone walls. Often shaded by foliage, the gentle path is perfect for a summer stroll. 

The peaceful 600-year-old orchard has existed since the garden was first laid out. It was replanted in 2011 but a handful of the older pear trees remain alongside newer plantings of apple, damson, quince, greengage and plum trees, which will bear fruit throughout late summer.

In spring, visitors are treated to a glorious display of purple wisteria along the garden’s western wall. The 200-year-old plant is the longest wisteria in the UK and features in Vita Sackville-West’s Knole and the Sackville’s where she wrote of it “dripping its fountains over the wall”. 

Purple and white foxgloves provide colour in the garden during the summer and as autumn approaches visitors will be treated to a riot of golden sunflowers.

Vita Sackville-West wrote about the wisteria in 'Knole and the Sackvilles'
The wisteria at Knole

Learn more on a guided walk

Learn more on one of the guided walks led by our knowledgeable volunteers every Tuesday, from April to September. Each themed walk highlights different treasures in the garden. Please meet at the entrance to the garden, through the Orangery, at the times below to join a walk.

Nature in the garden (12pm - 12.45pm)
This walk will visit areas of the formal garden and wilderness in search of plants to admire and to catch glimpses of its wildlife. The garden has many historical features and some of these will be pointed out along the way during this sensory walk.

Ladies of the garden (1pm - 1.45pm)
Knole's garden has been a place of calm and beauty for centuries and prominent women have promenaded along the avenues and conversed in the secrecy of the wilderness. This walk traces their footsteps and reveals the identity of these ladies of the garden who, since Tudor times, have made notable contributions to the history at Knole.
Please note that this walk will not take place on 26 June, 3 & 10 July

Orlando - 90 years on (2pm - 2.45pm)
Virginia Woolf published her novel Orlando in 1928. Now, 90 years on, this walk in the garden revisits places that may have influenced her in the writing of this love-letter to Vita Sackville-West. Both the formal garden and the wilderness provide an atmospheric backdrop to the story of the relationship between these two prominent women of their day.
Please note that this walk will not take place on 26 June, 3 & 10 July

Treasures of the garden (3pm - 3.45pm)
The garden has important historical features and seasonal displays throughout its extensive grounds. This walk will plot a route to visit areas of the greatest interest, including the wilderness. Depending on weather conditions it may be possible to reach the top of the garden with views of the deer park.

Guided walks are free of charge (normal admission charges apply). No advance booking is required. Sturdy footwear is advisable, especially if wet, as the walk will mainly be on grassed areas. Weather conditions and the availability of volunteer guides may lead to amendments or cancellations. Please phone 01732 462100 for any enquiries.

Visitor information

The garden is open with kind permission from Lord Sackville on Tuesdays from 3 April to 25 September, 11am until 4pm. Last entry is at 3.30pm. Entry to the garden is included in normal admission price to the showrooms.