Features

Garden restaurants

Pythouse Kitchen Garden

Make a plan to enjoy food among the flora at these glorious grounds and gardens with restaurants and cafés


Heckfield Place, Hampshire

This luxury hotel is as acclaimed for its 400 acres of glorious Hampshire countryside as it is for the stylish outfitting of its Georgian manor. A pre-dinner stroll in the grounds – lakes, woods, heather heaths and a walled garden and glasshouse – makes a visit to restaurant Marle extra special. Under the eye of chef Skye Gyngell, Marle puts a great harvest (from Heckfield’s biodynamic Home Farm) at the centre of every dish. Try the likes of beetroot carpaccio or pork shoulder with Russian kale – then enjoy another ramble outside before bed. Mains from £24.

Walled Garden at Mells, Somerset
This is the kind of garden you wish was your own: a relaxed space where Harry the cat roams and borders bloom. It’s also where you can take tea on the rose terrace, or shelter from the sun with a cool drink under the apple trees. There’s an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven from which crispy treats emerge each summer weekend, as well as a tempting line-up of homemade sausage rolls, cakes and salads to tuck into as you admire the flowers and meadows that roll beyond. Mains from £5.50; entrance free.

Askham Hall, Cumbria
This medieval stately-home hotel could be forgiven for letting the Lake District on its doorstep take care of the nature side of things. However, the stunning grounds with Grade II-listed gardens are a cultivated counterpoint to the national park. In the renowned restaurant Allium, chef Richard Swale makes full use of the kitchen gardens. His inventive touch is all over the tasting menu, where dishes might include turbot with smoked roe and chive sauce, or geranium cream with Campari granita. Tasting menu from £75;.

Charleston, Sussex
Charleston seems so frozen in time that you can almost hear Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bellin the pretty walled garden, chatting among the cosmos and poppies. The South Downs National Park stretches right to the door of Vanessa’s former retreat and artist’s garden, which means you’ll find plenty of walkers stopping off to pay a visit and refuel at the estate’s Threshing Barn Café. This cool, cavernous space in restored farm buildings is a lovely, informal stop for a slice of quiche or cake. In good weather, choose a sunny spot to relax in outside and settle down to debate art and literature in true Bloomsbury Set style. Mains from £7; entrance to café and grounds free.

Pipe & Glass, East Yorkshire
Every single plant in this newly cultivated garden is edible, from the herbs cascading down the living wall to the ornamental vegetables and fruit trees in the rambling borders. It’s exciting horticulture to explore, and a source of great pride (as well as ingredients) for the chefs indoors. Take a pew at the picnic tables at the front, or the more formal terrace at the back, and dig into dishes that earned this Beverley pub a glowing review from The Good Food Guide. There are low-key treats such as smoked salmon with homegrown dill on spelt bread, as well as dishes that wow (roast guinea fowl with wild garlic persillade and pickled trumpet mushrooms), and always multiple excellent options on the vegetarian and vegan menu. Mains from £16.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
Every gardener will recognise the satisfaction of bringing a neglected,  overgrown patch to heel and transforming it into a thriving, cultivated garden. So turning 200 acres of forgotten land, left to the brambles since the First World War, into an atmospheric botanical wonderland is a challenge to relish. The Lost Gardens of Heligan has been undergoing an epic restoration since 1990 and the formerly matted mess is now a maze of Victorian veg gardens, meandering paths through subtropical jungle, and magical tree ferns. The farmhouse-style kitchen and bakery dishes up family-friendly favourites, from cooked breakfasts to summer salads, comforting pies to sandwiches and soups. A hearty treat for intrepid garden explorers. Mains from £6; entrance: café free, gardens £16.

Pythouse Kitchen Garden, Wiltshire
It’s not often guests can take secateurs into an 18th-century walled garden, but at Pythouse you may lodge a bucket under an arm and casually snip at dahlias, sweet peas and echinacea. The pick-your-own service means you can take home a fresh bundle to fill your favourite vase, while the garden’s inventive restaurant and superlative menu ensure you’ll have a full belly to boot. Here, vegetables are the star, with dishes such as beetroot Wellington and scallops with carrot three ways. Mains from £12.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London
This charming botanic garden has been nurturing plants since 1673; in just four walled acres its neat borders, wild woodland and glasshouses hold some 5,000 varieties of herbs, edibles and medicinal plants. This horticultural feast influences the café kitchen, where vibrant dishes range from wild rocket  gnocchi to a punchy ginger cake. Brunch, lunch, snacks, cakes – and Pimm’s – lift cloudy days, and when the sun shines, tables pop up on the terrace. Mains from £12.50; entrance £12.

The Inn at Fossebridge, Gloucestershire
Reaching out from the stone walls of this 17th-century coaching inn right up to the banks of the River Coln is a well-groomed lawn which provides a lush carpet for summer tables and parasols. A classic Cotswolds pub, The Inn is well versed in the standards (haddock and chips, sticky toffee pudding), but also offers a short menu of elevated mains, such as pan-seared sea bass. It’s the setting, though, that really entices, as the mature garden and quaint lake contrast with the surrounding valley. Mains from £11.50.