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Discover the gardens of Dorset, from wetlands coloured with water lilies to the stately family home of Kingston Lacy.

If you’re looking for things to do in Dorset, then you must visit the many gardens dotted about the county. While the region is almost a garden in itself, with heathland, woodland and an abundance of wildflowers, the gardens are home to exotic and rare species unseen in the wild.

Compton Acres

Just over the harbour mouth in Poole, Compton Acres is ten acres of beautiful gardens, featuring varieties from all over the world. Find peace and serenity in the Japanese Garden, or wander slowly through the Wooded Valley. Compton Acres also has a nursery and two cafés, offering lunches, homemade cakes and even vegan afternoon tea. To get there, hop on the Breezer 50 bus from outside the hotel, which crosses the harbour by ferry. Alternatively, you can walk and catch the ferry on foot.

Kingston Lacy Gardens

The Bankes built Knoll House as a summer retreat, yet Kingston Lacy was their family seat. The stately home is surrounded by spectacular gardens that are open all year round. Explore all seven acres of the Japanese garden, which has been there for over a century, or visit the kitchen garden to see what seasonal vegetables are ready to harvest.

Knoll Gardens

Known and loved for its naturalistic style, the Knoll Gardens landscape is constantly evolving, with thousands of ornamental grasses, flowering perennials, and rare trees and shrubs. The result is a garden that changes with the seasons, and from year to year, so it’s worth coming back to see how the gardens have grown.

Bennetts Water Gardens

Covering eight acres, Bennetts Water Gardens features paths winding round lakes and wetlands, as well as shaded woods, family trails and a tropical house of exotic plants. The ponds are home to national and international collections of water lilies, which flower from late spring through summer and into autumn. There is also a restaurant with views over the gardens serving simple, locally sourced food.