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Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

Forde Abbey
TA20 4LU

4 miles south-east of Chard.

30 acres

01460 221290

Visit website

Opening Hours

Daily, 10.30am–5pm (last entry 4pm), Feb–Oct.


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (Member 1 only) - Mon, excluding BH, special events and group visits, May–Sep.


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


  • Arboretum
  • Autumn colour
  • Bog garden
  • Champion trees
  • Colour themed borders
  • Cottage planting
  • Gravel garden
  • Herbaceous border
  • Organic management
  • Pond or lake
  • Rock garden
  • Sculpture
  • Water garden
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Wildlife planting and features
  • Winter garden
  • Woodland

About the garden

Owned by
Alice Kennard

Forde Abbey is a treasure in beautiful rural Dorset; 900 years of history are encapsulated in this elegant former Cistercian monastery and its 12 hectares of award-winning gardens. The last abbot re-modelled the abbey, and further developments by Edmund Prideaux transformed the house into the magnificent private residence it is today, leading Pevsner to include it as one of the Hundred Best Buildings of England. However, Forde Abbey is first and foremost a family home, offering a warm friendly welcome to our visitors.   

Today the gardens are in the hands of Alice Kennard and her family, who continue to make it ‘a garden for all seasons’. After the pared back minimalism of the winter scape, the spring catwalk of tulips is an exuberant flush of colour. The alliums take their place and the gardens begins to turn a shade of purple. The meadows, flecked with green-winged orchids, inch taller by the day and the arboretum becomes flushed with magnolias coming into bloom (including the wonderful golden-cupped magnolia ‘Lois’). 

The summer has sweet peas on the scramble, the airspace crammed full with roses, poppies, lilies and foxgloves. In autumn what is lost in hours of daylight, is more than made up for, with undiluted sunshine, the herbaceous borders and kitchen garden billow and burgeon. Star performers of autumn include glorious maples – Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ - an impressive tulip tree that turns yellow gold, the burnt orange leaves of the turkey oak and an avenue of lime trees that turn pale yellow-green. 

Dahlias and Michaelmas daisies also lighten up the borders, and giant pumpkins and an array of autumn gourds are on display in the historic kitchen garden.  

Plants of special interest

  • Agapanthus
  • Alliums
  • Alpines
  • Asters
  • Autumn bulbs
  • Bluebells
  • Camellias
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Clematis
  • Conifers
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Dahlias
  • Delphiniums
  • Ferns
  • Fruit blossom
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Heathers
  • Hellebores
  • Herbs
  • Hostas
  • Irises
  • Laburnum
  • Lavender
  • Lilies
  • Magnolias
  • Maple
  • Meconopsis
  • Orchids
  • Primulas
  • Rhododendrons/azaleas
  • Roses
  • Shade-loving plants
  • Snowdrops
  • Spring bulbs
  • Sweet peas
  • Topiary
  • Vegetables
  • Waterlilies
  • Wildflowers
  • 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.