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Secret gardens

Laburnum arch at Helmsley Walled Garden Credit Colin DilcockLaburnum arch at Helmsley Walled Garden Credit Colin Dilcock

When you step into one of these botanical delights, it can feel as though you’re among the first to discover what makes them special, hence why we call them secret gardens!

Helmsley Walled Garden

Helmsley Walled Garden Credit Daniel Wildey Photography

Tucked behind Helmsley’s castle lies a five-acre secret – a 250-year old walled garden that once provided fruit, vegetables and flowers for the Duncombe Park gentry.

It’s been beautifully restored over the last two decades, with seasonally flowering and visually stunning borders, an extensive clematis collection, kitchen garden, an apple, pear and plum orchard, and wildflower meadow – with the castle walls and towers framing surprise views and contemplative corners.

The team also help people improve their mental and physical health through therapeutic gardening as well as running workshops with a health and wellbeing theme, such as mindfulness, photography or painting.

It’s also one of the backdrops for the latest screen adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s novel ‘The Secret Garden’ starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth. Don’t miss seeing the newest area of their garden, appropriately entitled Secret Garden.

Plan your visit.

The Yorkshire Arboretum

Yorkshire Arboretum Credit Olivia Brabbs

With a collection of 6,000 trees from around the world within 120 acres of parkland, The Yorkshire Arboretum, run by the Castle Howard Arboretum Trust, a partnership between Kew and Castle Howard Estates, is a very special place.

Pick up a tree trail map and follow either the short (1-hour) or long (2-hour) trail. You can reward yourself afterwards in the Arboretum cafe. The outdoor terrace makes for a wonderful setting to admire the views further.

A varied events calendar includes workshops with resident artists and organised tours of the Arboretum in autumn to capture the tree foliage in all its glory. Check out the full programme and booking details.

Pre-book your visit to the Arboretum.

Mount Grace Priory, House and Gardens

Mount Grace Priory, House and Gardens Credit Gary Walsh

From the monk’s cell garden filled with herbs, flowers and vegetables to the 13-acres of newly rejuvenated Arts and Crafts gardens, Mount Grace, Britain’s most complete surviving Carthusian monastery, is glorious to visit at any time of the year.

Head to the Priory in winter to find the grounds carpeted with snowdrops or wait until spring for the spectacular display of bluebells. By summer the gardens are laden with the scent of eglantyne roses before it’s the turn of the Japanese Acers to show off their autumnal glory.

Managed by English Heritage, find out more about its glorious gardens.

Book a timed ticket in advance to guarantee your entry to Mount Grace.