Compton Acres


Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

164 Canford Cliffs Road
BH13 7ES

Well signed locally; follow brown tourist signs.

10 acres

01202 700778

Visit website

Opening Hours

Please see website for opening dates and times.


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (member 1 only for joint memberships) applies 1 Nov–31 Mar.


  • Accessible facilities
  • Accessible garden
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Children’s play area
  • Children's activities
  • Dogs welcome
  • Free carer entry
  • Gift shop
  • Group rates
  • Parking
  • Plant sales
  • Refreshments
  • Toilets


  • Autumn colour
  • Japanese garden
  • Mediterranean/Italian garden
  • Rock garden
  • Woodland

About the garden

Owned by
Mr Bernard Merna

This Art and Crafts style garden was constructed on dry, sandy Dorset heathland in the 1920s and has been extensively refurbished in recent years. It consists of five main themed gardens reflecting the worldwide travels of its creator.

The largest of the three Italian gardens have a classical formal layout and is overlooked by the Italian Villa. This garden features some of the original containers and artefacts and is planted using topiary and colourful seasonal planting. Leading into this area is the smaller Roman Garden and out to the Palm Court, named after the mature Chusan and Dwarf Fan palms. The Wooded Valley was created under a canopy of Scots pine and features a fine collection of camellias and rhododendrons giving late spring colour, with a large R. ‘Polar Bear’ flowering in summer. A series of terraces accommodate a range of choice '‘woodlanders’, such as Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ and Arisaema candidissimum. Cascading water adds to the ambience of this tranquil garden.

The Rock and Water garden, enhanced by the pools and fountains, was built unusually, partly from limestone and partly from sandstone rock, with meandering paths and bridges. Planting ranges from towering Echium pininana and tree ferns to mature dwarf conifers. The rocky landscaped Heather Garden supports both winter- and summer-flowering heathers as well as a small colony of rare sand lizards.

The authentic Japanese garden contains original artefacts from Japan, including a traditional tea-house and a large pool of koi carp crisscrossed by stepping stones. Evergreen Kurume azaleas, cherries and maples give interest in all seasons. Various links between these main gardens offer visitors more variety of planting styles. Japanese bananas (Musa basjoo) and the rice paper tree (Tetrapanax papyrifer) feature in the sub-tropical link.

Plants of special interest

  • Camellias
  • Conifers
  • Daffodils
  • Heathers
  • Hostas
  • Lilies
  • Magnolias
  • Maple
  • Rhododendrons/azaleas
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Spring bulbs
  • Topiary
  • Waterlilies
  • Wisteria

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.