Birkheads Secret Gardens

Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

Birkheads Lane
Near Sunniside
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE16 5EL

Follow brown tourist signs on A6076 between Sunniside & Stanley.

3 acres

07778 447920

Visit website

Opening Hours

Thu–Sun, 4 Apr–29 Sep. Restricted opening during winter months. Please see website for more details.


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (member 1 only for joint memberships) applies Fri. Plus Sat and Sun on 2 and 3, 9 and 10, 16 and 17, 23 and 24 Mar.


  • Assistance dogs only
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Free carer entry
  • Gift shop
  • Group rates
  • Parking
  • Plant sales
  • Refreshments
  • Toilets


  • Autumn colour
  • Colour themed borders
  • Cottage planting
  • Herbaceous border
  • Wildflower meadow

About the garden

Owned by
Christine & Mike Liddle

Birkheads Secret Gardens is a hillside garden with open views extending across rural Durham and about 30 miles to Cleveland hills. The gardens were designed and built by the owners since 1990 to create biodiverse habitats for wildlife from an open field with all-year interest. 

There is a series of naturalistic romantic gardens for visitors to explore. There is a formal garden close to the house with tea terrace, bookable for family occasions or small groups out of hours. The cottage garden has a natural puddled clay pond and combines beehives with vegetables, cut flowers, trees and cottage garden plants. 

There's a Wildflower Meadow on wet clay wonderful with fritillaries in March, an Orchard with daffodils, bluebells and daisies, the woodland area has a small collection of interesting trees, Sorbus, Malus and Prunus flowering in spring followed by autumn fruits. The new No Dig border has many bulbs, hardy geraniums and paeonias. 

The Japanese style Meditation Garden with ponds, newts and dragonflies is spectacular in September. The circular Bee & Butterfly Garden is full of colour and food for pollinators from March to October. The Beach Garden with bulbs and grasses is quirky with another water feature for frogs. 

This is a plantaholics garden with plants collected over 30 years: shrubs, snowdrops, ferns, grasses, hostas, hemerocallis, delphiniums, primulas, roses, alliums, heucheras and many more. The unusual hardy plant nursery was established at the design stage to produce plants a few years before the garden was opened. Advice is freely given on all aspects of horticulture. 

The Coffee Shop in the walled garden overlooking the nursery serves light meals, snacks and delicious coffee and cakes, all sourced locally. 

Plants of special interest

  • Alliums
  • Alpines
  • Asters
  • Autumn bulbs
  • Bluebells
  • Clematis
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Delphiniums
  • Ferns
  • Fruit blossom
  • Fruit bushes/trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Hellebores
  • Hemerocallis
  • Herbs
  • Hostas
  • Irises
  • Laburnum
  • Lavender
  • Lilies
  • Maple
  • Meconopsis
  • Primulas
  • Roses
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Snowdrops
  • Spring bulbs
  • Topiary
  • Vegetables
  • Waterlilies
  • Wildflowers

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.