May garden heroes

Many exquisite plants are at their best in May. Make the most of their colours and scents by planning a visit to your nearest RHS Partner Garden. Flowering times may vary according to location and weather conditions, please check with individual gardens before travelling.

Bluebell magic

A carpet of bluebells is a wonderfully cheerful sight. Good places to enjoy the spectacle include Bluebell Cottage Gardens in Cheshire, Renishaw Hall Gardens near Sheffield, and Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, where the clear light and long days bring out a striking, vivid blue, especially where the bluebells grow densely in open glades.

Unforgettable irises

Iris lovers should make for Godinton House near Ashford in Kent, where some 80 bearded iris cultivars – both old and new – are grown against the mellow bricks of the old walled garden. Doddington Hall near Lincoln also has superb bearded irises (pictured above). Grown within an Elizabethan-inspired, box-edged parterre, the solid blocks of irises in gentle colours create a sumptuous, tapestry-like effect.

Wisteria at Godinton House

Cascading wisteria

Admire some breathtaking wisterias at The Garden House in Devon. There are various cultivars, grown in a range of ways – cascading down the house façade, clambering over arches, framing doorways and trailing from bridges. You can find more beautiful examples at Nymans in West Sussex and Loseley Park in Surrey, home to three wisteria thought to be more than 200 years old.

A golden archway

Take a stroll through the 55m laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden in Conwy, one of the garden’s most unforgettable seasonal highlights. The arch forms a curved tunnel of hanging gold racemes up to 18in long.

‘As far as we are aware it is the longest laburnum arch in the country,’ says Visitor Services Manager Ann Smith. ‘The arch is so magnificent that visitors come from all over Britain and the world to see it.’ Peak flowering period is normally the third week of May to early June.

Syringa vulgaris Katherine HavemeyerDelightful scent to savour

Late May or early June is a good time to enjoy the Lilac Walk at Cambo Gardens in Fife. The walk features more than 20 lilacs, mostly cultivars of Syringa vulgaris and S. x prestoniae hybrids. A particular favourite of owner Lady Erskine is Syringa x chinensis ‘Saugeana’ for its wonderful scent.


Tulipa 'Sorbet'

Discover more spring delights

More about RHS Partner Gardens

RHS Partner Gardens offer free entry to RHS members (main cardholder) throughout their open period or at selected times. With 200 to visit in the UK and overseas, which one will you visit next? 
Find out more about Partner Gardens 

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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.