Garden Design Inspiration – Three Excellent Yorkshire Gardens to Visit This Year

Fortunately, we have gardens of all shapes, styles and sizes worth visiting across Yorkshire. Whether you are simply looking for a relaxing day out, or garden design inspiration, these are three gardens which are definitely worth a visit. Each garden designer has created something quite special, and each of the gardens are completely different from one another.


Garden Name – Dove Cottage Nursery and Gardens
Location – Halifax, West Yorkshire
What sort of garden is it?

A plant nursery and accompanying garden, specialising in hardy herbaceous perennials and grasses. Based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, the garden is on a north facing slope and showcases the plants which are sold in the adjoining nursery.

Why visit?

In terms of the nursery, the plants they sell are always incredibly healthy and are proven to be reliable in our Yorkshire climate. For a relatively small site, they have a huge range of plants, including some unusual varieties. In my experience, the plants have a huge success rate in the garden, due to the care they take of them and their skills in plant production. The owners are on hand to give advice if required, about plant selection, care and design.

The garden itself is quite breathtaking, a masterclass in how to combine plants for best effect. Each year the planting evolves, as the owners decide to make changes and implement new plant combinations, whilst allowing the plants to self-seed. Although the garden might appear to be a miracle of serendipity, in reality it is a work of art. This is down to their expert eye in terms of planting design, coupled with a confidence that most garden owners lack – to allow self-sown plants their own say in how the planting evolves.

dove cottage garden halifax west yorkshire planting design garden design

Above: Planting including a wide range of grasses and perennials jostling for position at Dove Cottage in Halifax, West Yorkshire

If you have a slope in your garden and think this makes your life harder in terms of design, this demonstrates how it can be a real asset. There are seating areas at various points as you zig zag across the garden paths, allowing you to stop and absorb the planting from different angles.

dove cottage gardens halifax west yorkshire garden design and planting schemes

Above: Gravel pathways lead you through the planting.

Their website has a download link to their plant catalogue, with useful descriptions allowing you to research and plan your purchases prior to visiting the gardens. Be aware, it is very difficult to not be seduced by the garden; you may be compelled to make some knee-jerk purchases from the nursery when you walk back through!

dove cottage garden in halifax. excellent planting and garden design

Above: More attractive planting combinations at Dove Cottage, West Yorkshire.


Garden Name – Scampston Walled Garden
Location – Scampston, North Yorkshire
What sort of garden is it?

The description on the website says that “Scampston Walled Garden is a stunningly beautiful contemporary garden, quite unlike any other. Designed by the renowned Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf, and featuring modern, perennial meadow planting alongside more traditional areas, the garden is open to the public from Easter to October every year.”

Why visit?

Scampston has a series of “garden rooms”, each with a distinctly different style and layout, surrounded by a plantsman’s walk. I think most visitors have a different response to each of the areas – you will no doubt have favourites, and perhaps some areas which you have no liking for whatsoever! Whilst most of us don’t own gardens the size of Scampston, there are still plenty of take-home ideas. There is a great deal of restraint on show, which might not be immediately apparent – especially in the vibrant “Perennial Meadow” – but this is the case in many respects. The same plants are often repeated from one area to the next, which then gives a sense of continuity between many of the areas. Plants are chosen because of their long season of interest, with plant form – including foliage, stems, flower heads – given as much consideration as colour. The Serpentine Garden and the Silent Garden show how a simple design approach can often be the most dramatic. Boards are positioned around the areas, with information to aid in plant identification.

Scampston Walled Garden planting by Piet Oudolf

Above: Planting in the Perennial Meadow at Scampston Walled Garden, North Yorkshire

Scampston Hall Walled Garden planting by garden designer piet oudolf

Above: Blocks of Box topiary and planting at Scampston Walled Garden, North Yorkshire.


Garden Name – York Gate Garden
Location – Leeds, West Yorkshire
What sort of garden is it?

The garden is owned and managed by the charity Perennial, the UK’s only charity dedicated to those working in horticulture. They describe it as “a one-acre garden tucked away behind the ancient church in Adel, on the northern outskirts of Leeds. Created by the Spencer family during the second half of the twentieth century, and now owned and managed by Perennial, it is a garden of immense style and craftsmanship, widely recognised as one of the most innovative small gardens of the period.”

Why visit?

Another series of garden rooms, York Gate was inspired by the classic Arts and Crafts gardens. Immaculate topiary is on display, and a fantastic range of plants for a relatively small space. The gardens feel steeped in history. There is a sense of personality that might only come from a garden designed by someone that first and foremost, wanted to create a space that they themselves wanted to spend time in. Superb care and craftsmanship is shown across the garden, in the planting, the house and the hard landscaping. Each room has a different feel to it, the trees and hedges that surround them making for an immersive experience as you move from one area to the next. The phrase “the devil’s in the detail” could well have been coined for York Gate, as this is frequently what makes the garden special.

York Gate Garden design in Leeds includes topiary and planting

Above: Immaculate hedging and topiary in one of the garden rooms at York Gate Garden, Leeds.


York Gate Garden in Leeds, West Yorkshire arts and crafts garden design

Above: Regardless of your preferred style of gardens and planting, its difficult not to find some inspiration in the gardens at York Gate in Leeds.


Whatever your level of garden interest – whether reluctant gardener or garden designer – all of these gardens make for an easy and enjoyable trip out.

The National Gardens Scheme is also a great chance to visit a wide range of gardens, many of which are simply outstanding examples of family gardens, not normally open to the public. They also support a range of very worthwhile caring charities. Check out their website for some open gardens near you –

Let me know some of your favourite gardens, so I can add them to my list for this year!


Photos are all the author’s own.

Lewis Williams Gardens, Garden Designer, West Yorkshire.