Things to See and Do
Walmer Castle, pictured from the Kitchen Garden.

SEASONAL GARDEN HIGHLIGHTS AT WALMER CASTLE

Resulting from the enthusiasm of successive Lords Warden, the gardens at Walmer mix formal and informal styles, grand-scale herbaceous planting and naturalistic woodland. Winding paths take you past historic plantings from many different periods. Journey now through a year of seasonal garden highlights at Walmer Castle and Gardens.

Tulips blossom in the Queen Mothers Garden at Spring time.

Walmer Castle in Spring

Spring often comes early at Walmer Castle. Winter aconites Eranthus hymalis provide splashes of yellow in the Queen Mother's Garden, and hellebores open in the Woodland Garden. In the Paddock swathes of daffodils entice you to explore the garden further, before being replaced later in the year by bluebells. From the first signs of spring, daffodils and snowdrops emerge all across the gardens, the result of large scale plantings by the castle's gardeners in recent seasons.

At the top end of the Oval Lawn a well established group of Fritillaria meleagris, the snake's head fritillary, is steadily increasing through self-seeding year by year. With the warmer weather, cherry blossom in the Paddock and apple blossom in the Orchard and Kitchen Garden create a magnificent sight whilst cowslips and oxslips proliferate in the castle meadow.

A member of Walmer’s Garden team leads at a tour at the Blooming Gardens event.

The Kitchen Garden is a highlight at Walmer Castle in any season but the bright new shoots from the spring sowing of seeds, and the planting out of young plants, whet the appetite for the crops to come.

By late spring the herbaceous plants of the Broadwalk will be showing off their vibrant fresh foliage, ready to provide colour and interest throughout the summer months and into the autumn.

With the beds and borders a riot of scent and colour, mid-June sees the annual celebration of gardens across English Heritage. Blooming Gardens at Walmer Castle offers the chance to meet the garden team and enjoy tours, talks and demonstrations, as well as the chance to pick up plants from local nurseries. Throughout the year, events at Walmer offer many different opportunities to enjoy the gardens.

  

Discover Events at Walmer
A raspberry ripening in the summer sun at the Queen Mothers Garden.

Walmer Castle in Summer

Roses have always been popular at Walmer, and of particular importance are the 'Queen Mother' patio roses that make a bright show in the Queen Mother's Garden each summer. In the meadow, wild flowers including pyramid orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis), common spotted orchids and blue Scabiosa can be seen nestled in the long grass. The trees surrounding the Paddock provide a striking dark green backdrop to the rest of the garden.

During summer, the Kitchen Garden is in full production with a spectacular offering of soft fruit, vegetables and flowers. This produce goes to the tearoom, where the menu often includes freshly prepared treats using ingredients grown on site. Some produce is grown in the glasshouse, including tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. A permanent display of houseplants, cacti and succulents can also be admired here.

Even the castle itself is taken over by the riot of colour spreading across the gardens. Large colonies of Australian daisy, Erigeron Karvinskianus, begin to peek out from nooks and crannies across the walls and bastions, brightening the scene still further.

The Broadwalk at Walmer Castle, beneath a summer sun.

The double border of the Broadwalk is superb throughout the summer with drifts of plants such as bear's breeches (Acanthus spinosus), spiked blue Echinops ritro, the tall yellow Cephalaria gigantea, goldenrod, (Solidago), and dark pink Persicaria amplexicaulis, all set against the dark green of the 'cloud' yew hedge.

The cloud hedge also provides a stunning backdrop to the Oval Lawn with its stately commemorative trees. Many of the specimen trees have an important pedigree as they were planted by past Lord Wardens, including William Pitt and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The moat, shaded by the high walls of the castle, abounds with colourful shrubs at this time of year, including hydrangeas, Choisya ternata, and the majestic Magnolia grandiflora.

A band plays at a summer music event at Walmer.

The mix of, cool shaded lawns, leafy woodland canopies and coastal breezes make Walmer a comfortable garden to explore in the heat of summer. Children can stretch their legs on the oval lawn, spot dragonflies flitting above the Queen Mother's Garden pond, or challenge each other in giant garden games. Grown-ups have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the shade nearby, and can pick a deck chair or bench on the lawn, or perhaps admire the view of the gardens from atop the bastions.

With long summer evenings and plentiful outdoor space, the gardens regularly host outdoor evening theatre performances. Light music on the lawn in summer adds atmosphere and serenity to an afternoon exploring the borders and plantings.

   

BROWSE PERFORMANCES AT WALMER
A pumpkin ripens at the Kitchen Garden in mid autumn.

Walmer Castle in Autumn

As summer turns to autumn the Kitchen Garden at Walmer Castle is heavily laden with fruit and vegetables. Pumpkins swollen from summer growth are harvested in time for Halloween. Apples and pears ripen in the orchard and along trained boughs, showing splashes of colour against the green foliage.

Children play tag in the Queen Mother’s Garden at Walmer.

In the Paddock, the meadow has been cut and cyclamen are starting to flower under the trees here and in the Woodland. This will be followed by a fine show of autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale).

Colour is provided in the Queen Mother's Garden by Japanese anemones from summer through to autumn. As the leaves of the Virginia creepers (Parthenocissus) and crimson glory vines (Vitiscoignetiae) change colour, they turn the walls of the castle flame red.

Snowdrops blooming along the woodland walk during winter at Walmer.

Walmer Castle in Winter

With just a few remaining crops in the Kitchen Garden, the hard work of preparing the ground again for the new season is well underway. Shelter from the worst of the winter weather can be found in the glasshouses. Their collection of ornamental plants, including scented pelargoniums and succulent aeoniums, provide interest throughout the winter while the beds in the kitchen garden are prepared for the new productive season.

Colour and interest in the garden are provided by snowdrops in the Woodland and during mild winters with an early showing of the 'summer snowflake' Leucojum aestivum in the Queen Mother's Garden.

Walmer’s skilled team of gardeners.

GET INVOLVED

Caring for Walmer's historic gardens is a team of knowledgeable gardeners and volunteers. Passion for horticulture and historical knowledge of the development of Walmer's gardens by successive Lords Warden allows our team to conserve these historic pleasure grounds for future generations to enjoy. Their hard work was recognized in 2017 at the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards, where Walmer was named 'Best Garden or Arboretum' of that year.

If you would like to share your passion for gardening, or are looking to develop horticultural skills and experience, the re-discovering Walmer's pleasure grounds project will afford opportunities to get involved in the run up to its completion in 2019.

BROWSE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES

Explore Walmer's Gardens

  • Queen Mother's Garden

    Enjoy the Queen Mother's Garden, gifted to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for her 95th birthday.

  • The Broadwalk

    See one of the glories of Walmer; the magnificent Broadwalk.

  • The Kitchen Garden

    Explore the fruit trees, vegetable beds and glasshouses of Walmer's Kitchen Garden.

'step into englands story