What inexpensive guided garden tours are available in rural Dorset?

Dorset, a charming county in South-west England, is graced with stunning landscapes, picturesque towns, and a riveting Jurassic coastline. But the true hidden gems of Dorset are its beautiful gardens, rich in diversity and history. We are about to embark on a virtual journey through these gems, outlining inexpensive guided garden tours available in rural Dorset. We will walk through the sprawling estates, discover the captivating stories behind them, and provide you with a guide on how to make the most out of your visit.

Explore the Beautiful Gardens of Dorchester

For any tour of Dorset, Dorchester, the county town, is a natural starting point. Dorchester, a town steeped in history and culture, is home to several stunning gardens that are perfect for a day tour.

The town's pride, The Borough Gardens, offers free guided tours on specific days. This Victorian-style garden is home to beautiful flowerbeds and a bandstand that hosts concerts during the summer months.

Just on the outskirts of Dorchester, you will find the Thomas Hardy's cottage. Hardy, one of England's literary giants, lived in this quaint country house, surrounded by a verdant cottage garden. A visit to Hardy’s garden will transport you back in time, capturing the essence of rural England in the 19th century. The National Trust organizes tours around the cottage and garden, providing an insightful narrative into Hardy's life and works.

Discover the Charm of Lyme Regis' Gardens

Just a short drive from Dorchester will lead you to the stunning sea-side town of Lyme Regis. Known for its fossil-filled beaches, Lyme Regis is also home to a few enchanting gardens, offering guided tours for visitors.

The public Langmoor and Lister Gardens are a must-visit. The gardens, situated on the coastline, give striking views of The Cobb and Lyme Bay. Free guided tours are available, providing an informative commentary on the local flora and the Jurassic Coast.

Another hidden gem of Lyme Regis is the Dinosaurland Fossil Museum, a dino-themed garden that excites both adults and children alike. Although it's not a traditional garden, it offers an inexpensive guided tour, and is a fun-filled pit stop in your garden tour of Dorset.

Uncover the Secrets of Brownsea Island

Next on our tour, Brownsea Island, located in the beautiful Poole Harbour, offers a unique experience. The island is home to a varied landscape of woodland, heathland, and a lagoon, creating a tranquil environment for a perfect day out.

The National Trust organizes tours around the island that provide you an opportunity to explore its rich biodiversity. You can walk through the woodland, home to the rare red squirrel, or visit the lagoon, an important habitat for water birds.

The island also houses an enchanting garden, created by the late Mary Bonham-Christie. The garden has evolved into a wildlife haven and is a testament to the island's unique ecosystem. Although it is a bit of a journey to reach the island, the inexpensive tour offers an unforgettable experience.

Stroll Through the Gardens of Rural Dorset's Country Houses

The country houses of rural Dorset offer the grandeur of English heritage, coupled with beautiful gardens. These estates, with their sprawling landscapes, provide a peek into the English country life.

Athelhampton House, situated near Dorchester, is surrounded by one of the finest gardens in England. The garden, comprising of several courts, each with its unique style, is a delight to explore. The guided tour provides an in-depth look at the planning and maintenance of these gardens.

The Minterne House, famed for its Himalayan garden, offers a delightful walking tour. You can walk through the chain of small lakes, waterfalls, and streams, surrounded by a spectacular collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other rare plants.

Enjoy the Hospitality of Dorset's Garden Hotels

For those who want to immerse themselves deeper into the garden experience, Dorset's garden hotels provide the perfect opportunity. These hotels, set in stunning landscapes, often have their beautiful gardens, offering guests a chance to live amidst nature.

The Summer Lodge, located in the picturesque village of Evershot, is surrounded by four acres of beautifully manicured gardens. The hotel offers garden tours for its guests, detailing the types of plants and their maintenance.

Another beautiful garden hotel is the Mortons House Hotel in Corfe Castle. This 16th-century manor house has an enchanting walled garden, which is a delightful place to relax after a day of exploring.

Explore the Rich Flora of Sturminster Newton

The quaint town of Sturminster Newton, nestled in the heart of West Dorset, boasts of an array of beautiful gardens that are an absolute must-visit.

One such garden that catches the eye is the Mill Gardens, located along the banks of the River Stour. Flanked by the historic Sturminster Newton Mill, this meticulously maintained garden offers a colorful array of flowers, plants and a variety of wildlife. The local Village Hall organizes affordable guided tours around the Mill Gardens which include information about the native flora and the Mill’s fascinating history.

Just a short drive from the town center, you will find the stunning Shillingstone House Gardens. This expansive country house garden is a horticultural delight, featuring a beautiful walled garden, a rose garden and an impressive collection of trees and shrubs. The garden also offers spectacular views of the Dorset countryside. The National Trust hosts inexpensive guided tours around the garden, offering insights about the garden's history and evolution.

The Exotic Gardens of South Africa in Dorset

Dorset's garden tours not only provide an insight into English horticulture but also give an opportunity to experience the exotic flora of far-off lands, right here in South Africa.

A visit to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens is a must for those who love exotic plants. Situated near the Jurassic Coast, this garden is home to a unique collection of plants from South Africa, the Channel Islands and other warm regions. The garden's microclimate allows these plants to thrive, offering a unique experience for visitors. Affordable guided tours are available, providing detailed information about the garden's exotic plants.

Another place well worth a visit is Knoll Gardens in Wimborne. Known for its grass garden, the place is home to plants from around the world, with a special emphasis on South Africa. Visitors can opt for a reasonably priced guided tour to learn more about the global collection of plants, the garden's design and planting techniques.


Garden Tours in Dorset, England are not just about admiring the stunning landscapes and diverse flora. They are about understanding the history, culture, and horticultural practices that have shaped these gardens over the centuries. The inexpensive guided garden tours in Dorset open a window into this fascinating world.

From the charming gardens of Dorchester and Lyme Regis to the tranquil environment of Brownsea Island. From the grand estates of rural Dorset to the hospitality of its garden hotels. From the rich flora of Sturminster Newton to the exotic gardens echoing South Africa; each place offers a unique experience.

Whether you're a novice gardener eager to learn, a history buff intrigued by local lore, a nature lover in search of tranquility, or a traveler looking for a unique experience; a garden tour in Dorset is sure to meet your expectations.

So, next time you are in the South West, make sure to set aside some time to explore these horticultural gems. It’s well worth the visit. And remember, the best way to experience these gardens is to take a leisurely stroll, guided tour in hand, stopping often to smell the flowers and admire the views. As they say, the beauty of a garden is a slow reward.