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Things to do in the garden at The Vyne

Lake with swans and fringed by trees with orange and red late autumn foliage, The Vyne, Hampshire
Mist hangs over the surface of The Vyne's lake on cold mornings. | © National Trust/Virginia Langer

There are nine hectares of garden surrounding the house at The Vyne. Two lakes, a walled garden, formal garden and meadow along with lawns and a herbaceous border sit neatly inside this area. There is plenty for you to explore through the seasons, from the 17th-century summerhouse to a 600-year-old oak tree.

Winter in the garden

Winter is the busiest time for the garden team, as heavy-duty work can take place when wildlife activity is at its lowest. Hedges and woodland can be maintained with minimal impact on nature.

Look out for these winter highlights:

  • Light mist hanging over the surface of the lake in the morning
  • Robins flitting about on the soil in the summerhouse garden, their orange-red chests standing out against the wintry backdrop
  • Coots, mallards, moorhens and little grebes punting across the lake, forming v-shaped ripples in their wake
A robin perches on a wooden post in winter.
Friendly robins flit about in The Vyne's gardens in winter. | © National Trust / Virginia Langer

The walled garden

Dating back to the 18th century, the walled garden houses a variety of fruit and vegetables as well as a dahlia border. An ambitious restoration programme restored the glasshouse and the fruit and vegetable beds to their former glory.

The summerhouse

Possibly the earliest domed garden building in England, the summerhouse dates from around 1635 and has been used as a banqueting house and a dovecote. Designed by John Webb and built in the shape of a Greek cross, it is one of two originally built.

Today, the remaining summerhouse is the focus of the formal garden with beds which reflect the shape of the structure itself. The bedding plants are chosen to complement the shades of the summerhouse during the seasons and the garden is enclosed by a yew hedge.

Trimmed hedges decorated with Christmas sweets line a path leading to a red-bricked building with a domed roof.
The 17th-century summerhouse at The Vyne | © National Trust / Karen Legg

Hundred Guinea Oak

Frail but still standing, the Hundred Guinea Oak is now over 600 years old. William John Chute, who owned The Vyne in the late Georgian period, was offered £100 and later 100 guineas for the timber.

He flatly refused to sell the oak, which you can see for yourself at the top of the Lime Avenue.

Wild garden

Here, the informal layout gives the impression of a natural landscape that has emerged all by itself. Laden with seasonal colour, trees gently arc over the main path at intervals while the paths mown through the long grass bring you to the lakeside where you can spot waterfowl gliding across the lake.

Family activities in the garden

There are plenty of self-led trails around the estate for families to enjoy. Unfortunately ball games, frisbees, bikes, scooters and drones are not allowed on the estate. This is to prevent further damage to the house and grounds.

Close up detail of the 16th-century stained glass window in the Chapel at the Vyne, Hampshire

Discover more at The Vyne

Find out when The Vyne is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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