Skip to content

The garden at Ham House

The Cherry Garden at Ham House and Garden, London
The Cherry Garden at Ham House and Garden | © National Trust Images/Chris Davies

Ham House, on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond, is surrounded by spectacular outdoor spaces to explore, including an atmospheric 17th-century walled Kitchen Garden and maze-like Wilderness. The gardens show what historically ‘might have been’, following work in the 1970s to reinstate 17th-century character previously lost. Discover more about the garden highlights below.

Garden highlights in summer

Tucked behind an avenue of trees, where the Thames weaves past ancient meadows, the gardens surrounding Ham House have an air of tranquillity in summer’s growing warmth.

This green oasis is only 30 minutes from central London, and offers a taste of countryside calm in the city. Enjoy Ham House’s stunning gardens and enjoy its luscious setting in Ham, known in the summer for its wildflowers, riverside paths and shady avenues.

Lavender in the Cherry Garden

Summer is the one of the best seasons to visit the Cherry Garden. A fragrant purple haze of over 1,200 lavender plants in bloom fills low box-edged compartments. Take in the gentle perfume of these fragrant plants as you walk around the gravel paths around the elegant formal garden.

Explore and relax in the shaded Wilderness

If you’re looking for a shaded spot to take a break from exploring the summer gardens at Ham, find a quite seat in one of the summerhouses in the quiet Wilderness, the area furthest from the house, beyond the grassy Plats. There are plenty of areas to relax in with views of the winding paths and flower borders – or bring your favourite book to enjoy with a slice of Ham-made cake from the Orangery Café.

View of the house beyond the walls of the Kitchen Garden full of vibrant flowers at Ham House and Garden, Surrey
View of the house across the vibrant Kitchen Garden at Ham House and Garden, London | © National Trust Images/Chris Davies

A vibrant productive Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden is bustling at this time of year. Produce – including new potatoes, garlic and courgettes – is used in the Orangery Café (found at the north end of this garden), offered to visitors for a donation in a cart outside the shop or given to local foodbanks. This stunning 17th-century walled garden also features an edible flower plot – see it vibrant with lavender, calendula, borage, chicory, anise hyssop, rocket, viola, rosemary and thyme.

Join a garden tour

Join one of our free tours, led by our knowledgeable volunteers, to find out about the gardens and take in the seasonal highlights. Garden tours at Ham run March-November.

Please be aware that all tours depend on volunteer availability on the day. You can book your place on one of the tours upon arrival at Ham. Please make sure you arrive with plenty of time prior to the start of your chosen tour.

View of trees and hedge-lined paths inside the Wilderness at Ham House and Garden, London
View of trees and hedge-lined paths inside the Wilderness with the Plats beyond at Ham House and Garden, London | © National Trust Images/Chris Davies

Discovering the garden throughout the year

South Terrace Border

The garden, 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. The South Terrace border is inspired by this knowledge and planted in the 17th-century style, with a wide seasonal interest.

Don't miss: The changing spring and summer floral displays in the terracotta urns – the use of containers to add seasonal interest was the height of fashion in the 17th century.

Cherry Garden

To the north 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 Lauderdales' garden.

The Plats

From early spring, half a million bulbs burst into colour as part of an exciting garden display continuing through to autumn.

Inspired by the garden’s history, the mansion’s vast manicured lawns are filled with crocuses, tulips, muscari and wild flowers 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.

The Kitchen Garden

Records show the Kitchen Garden has been at Ham since the 1600s and it’s currently one of the most productive walled kitchen gardens in London. Tended using organic principles, it provides the café with home-grown produce all year round.

Find the wooden doorway on the west wing of the vast original red-brick wall, which leads you out on to a south-facing terrace with views across this historic garden. You'll see 10 deep rectangular plots flanked by soft shingle paths. Each is gently cultivated to grow produce that would have been here in Ham House’s heyday, and together they beautifully recreate the atmosphere of the period.

The Kitchen Garden is also home to the Orangery Café where you can enjoy a drink and something to eat while looking over the garden.

Don’t miss: Fresh produce is also on display in the house’s historic kitchen and often available to buy in the shop, with proceeds going towards the upkeep of Ham’s historic garden. In the summer months, we sell vegetables and fruit on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and there are often cut flowers for sale too.

The Wilderness

The Wilderness was a fashionable feature in 17th-century grand gardens like Ham. It showed the owners' power to contain nature within its hedges and compartments. It was intended as a wilderness in the biblical sense of the word – for quiet contemplation and reflection and not a ‘wild garden’.

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.

As you walk, look out for small wooden summerhouses in the 17th-century style, the perfect place to put your feet up or shelter from showers while you enjoy the season’s changing views.

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.

Wooden summerhouse surrounded by plants and flowers in the Wilderness at Ham House and Garden, London
Summerhouses offer shaded seating in the Wilderness at Ham House and Garden, London | © National Trust Images/Chris Davies

Silent Spaces

We have created two Silent Spaces at Ham, designed as places to take time out and reflect. These spaces alternate, depending on the season. In the winter months, take a moment of calm in the Cherry Garden, which was once a private formal garden for the Duchess of Lauderdale. During the warmer months, one of the hedge-lined compartments within the Wilderness becomes our Silent Space, where summerhouses provide shelter and a seat with a view.

Our hope is that these Silent Spaces offer a moment to relax in the quiet beauty of Ham's gardens.

For more information about Silent Space and the other National Trust gardens taking part, please visit the Silent Space website.

A group of people walk between hedges in the garden, with the house behind, at Ham House and Garden, London

Discover more at Ham House and Garden

Find out when Ham House and Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

A view through trees to the River Thames towards Richmond with buildings on a hill in the background

Explore the landscape around Ham House and Garden 

Wander around the riverside landscape surrounding Ham House and explore parkland, meadows and wetland.

Outside the Orangery Café with a table, parasol and chairs in the foreground with the Kitchen Garden in the background, full of vibrant flowers at Ham House and Garden, London

Eating and shopping at Ham House and Garden 

Set in historic buildings, the Orangery Café and shop offer inviting spaces to relax and treat yourself on your visit to Ham House and Garden.

View of the Long Gallery with paintings in the walls and a bay window at the far end of the room at Ham House and Garden, London

Discover Ham House 

Explore the well-preserved interiors of one of the grandest Stuart houses in England, created to impress in the 17th-century by the Duchess of Lauderdale and her husband the Duke.

Book cleaning in the Library at Ham House and Garden, Surrey showing a hand holding a brush

Volunteering at Ham House and Garden 

Thinking about volunteering at this special place? Here’s what you need to know.

Family framed by a square opening in a hedge at Ham House and Garden, London

Family-friendly things to do at Ham House and Garden 

Games, activities, adventures – find lots of fun things to do for all the family this summer at Ham House and Garden.

View of a summer border filled with pink blooming roses, looking towards the stone temple facade at the Courts Garden, Wiltshire

Gardens and parks 

From 18th-century water gardens and Arts and Crafts landscapes to intimate woodland gardens, there are so many places to discover.

Gardener working in the walled garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Gardening tips 

Discover our gardeners’ top tips so you can make the most of your garden, plot or window box.

The walled kitchen garden, with an arched doorway, with lavender and marigolds in flower

Gardens and parks in London 

Discover a variety of plants and interest in gardens across London, from summer roses to wintry alpine blooms and spring bulbs bursting into life.