Botanical Inspiration, stunning gardens to visit

Chelsea Flower Show

The botanical Inspiration for Atty & Smart designs sparked into life when Lucy and Charlotte’s father, a conservationist architect gave them a beautiful old collection of British decorative botanical illustrations.  It came as no surprise. They had visited many National Trust properties as children and wiled away hours of time in the beautiful gardens.

If you are looking for a great day out and a renewed burst of inspiration there are many stunning botanical gardens in Kent, Sussex and London to visit.

Scotney castle became a favourite of Charlotte’s during the time she studied at the nearby School of Herbal Medicine in Tunbridge Wells. There is a lot to see on this 700-acre estate. A moated castle – built during the 14 Century, a newer Victorian house, an icehouse, wild meadows, a walled vegetable garden and the renowned naturally planted picturesque style garden. The picturesque movement arose in the mid eighteenth century and turned its back on geometrical and symmetrically planted gardens such as the one most famously seen in Versailles, France. Seemingly unplanted and untended rhododendrons and azaleas surround the castle ruins at Scotney. The picturesque style gives the garden a dream-like sense of wonder and throws you back to a past age.

At this time of year, you can join a garden tour on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am and 2.30pm and gem up on all the history. 

Picnics are also allowed in the garden. Just bring a picnic blanket and all you wish to eat.

You must book online in advance to reserve a car spot. Select your time of arrival and turn up within the hour.  After that you’re free to stay as long as you like.

Chelsea Flower Show Display

Vita Sackville-West and her diplomat husband Harold Nicolson bought the ruined Elizabethan manor house in Sissinghurst, Kent in 1930. The famous novelist, poet and journalist, yet amateur gardener began to create a truly inspirational, romantic and successful garden. Harold, who loved classical architectural lines brought a level of formality to the project. Together they formed the perfect duo.

Sissinghurst Castle remains a very popular destination. You can visit the separate garden areas such as the White Garden, Rose Garden, Orchard, Cottage Garden and Nuttery. The garden is in the Grade I category on Historic England’s register of historic parks and gardens.

Give yourself time to thoroughly explore the different gardens. To beat the crowds book a morning garden tour online and soak up the history and charm of the gardens before they open to the public. Tea and cake are available in the old dairy or oast house, which is a traditional building used to dry hops for beer brewing.

The Sissinghurst Series, is a collection of informative lectures given by professionals in the gardening industry and is hosted by the head gardener Troy Scott Smith. If you have or wish to develop green thumbs check to see what’s coming up.

Borde Hill Garden is across the border in West Sussex, a few miles north of Haywards Health. Plants have been brought there from all around the world, by collectors who had travelled to far flung places. The Garden was created in the early 1900s and is Grade II listed by English Heritage on its register of Parks and Gardens. If you love trees and scrubs you shouldn’t pass Borde Hill by.

Tours are available, and it is advertised as being great for group visits. Booking in advance will save you a few pounds. The Gardeners’ Retreat Cafe offers light lunches, afternoon teas and freshly baked cakes.

The Specialist Plant Fairs comes to Borde Hill Gardens curtesy of the Plant Fairs Roadshow on May the 8th this year between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm. A great line up of independent nurseries from around the UK will be in residence as well as a Plant Doctor. there to answer all questions on plant health.

At Kew Royal Botanical Gardens,you are surrounded by plants and plant specimens of all kinds. The gardens contain 28,680 taxa or classifications of living plants. Whether you want to see bamboo or orchids, ferns or a dell of rhododendrons, they are all there. The bamboo garden is one of the largest collections of bamboo in the UK. It contains 130 bamboo species from China, Japan, the Himalaya and Americas.

If you prefer carnivorous plants, step into the Princess of Wales Conservatory where you will find many the worlds’ finest flesh-eating plants, including one that we have all heard of, the Venus fly trap.

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is believed to have the longest herbaceous borders in the country, even the world.

There are so many activities on offer at Kew it’s hard to know where to start. If you fancy forest bathing, botanically inspired knitting or Tai Chi you can book tickets online.

Book in advance when visiting the Barbican Conservatory, within the city of London. The tickets are released once a week. You don’t need much spare time to thoroughly enjoy this rainforest in the city. The Barbican is classic Brutalist architecture with its huge slabs of concrete, characteristic clean lines and severe appearance. Which makes visiting the second biggest Conservatory in London within the Barbican all the more worthwhile. You are in for an unusual experience and a real treat.

The Conservatory houses over two thousand species of plants, admission is free and tours available.

Atty and Smart collections are available at our Henfield store at Ivy House, High Street, Henfield, BN5 9HN or online on our website at

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