Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
Hole Park Gardens are absolutely stunning and that’s in March when the flowers are only just springing into life. By the time the bluebells are out, it must be amazing.
It is a family owned garden, owned by the Barham family, who are obviously very proud of what they have. It has been in the family for 100 years and the booklet that is for sale at the entrance is well worth purchasing as it tells you all about the history of the family, house and gardens. It is situated between the villages of Benenden and Rolvenden in Kent.
The garden is split down into several sections formal, informal and woodland. You can tell that it’s still a real family home by the beautiful enclosed garden containing the swimming pool and tennis courts. It is really family friendly and easy to get around, we took our pushchair and had no problems, there is one small section that’s not suitable for wheelchairs but otherwise it has very good disabled access too.
We spent a good two hours wandering round the 15 acre gardens, following the trail of yellow arrows that match the map you are given on entering. The map explains each part of the garden as you follow it around.
The formal gardens are next to the house (this is privately owned family home and not open to the public), with a mixture of herbaceous borders, beautiful magnolias, camellias and wisteria. The path then leads off to a more informal section with heathers and evergreens, down to the woodland area you can then continue on to an interesting ice house which has recently been restored. We were a few weeks too early for the bluebells to be out, best time is apparently the end of April, but you could see them peeping through. On the website there is a bluebell barometer which states the best times to visit to see the bluebells in all their glory, the whole of the woodland area then must just be a fabulous blue carpet of flowers.
We followed the trail up to the coach house where they serve great cream or savoury teas and they sell produce made on the estate. There was a good selection of jams, chutney and even beer that is made in the estate brewery. I had the savoury tea which consisted of the best cheese scone I have had in ages, plum chutney, large helping of cream cheese and tea. I thought it was excellent value for £3.50. My husband has a sweet tooth and went for the lemon cake which he tells me was equally as tasty.
We had the pleasure of meeting the owner and his wife who were very welcoming, friendly and gave lots of information on the gardens.
We had a fabulous day out, helped by the great weather, and would love to return a little later in the season to see the borders fully in bloom.
Admission is £6 per adult, £1 per child.
For more information and opening times visit www.holepark.com.
Hole Park, Rolvenden, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 4JB | 01580 241344 | firstname.lastname@example.org