The Gardens

The special quality of the garden setting to Whitstable Castle, remains very impressive. It is the outside gardens, play area and tearooms (both at the castle and across the road at the teagarden) that provide the unique sense of place of Whitstable Castle and the main visitor attraction. This is where visitors spend most of their time and where most events are held.

Our team of gardeners ensure the gardens are in first class condition, always changing with the seasons to provide continual interest and very different to typical local authority managed parks and gardens.

A methodical and very thorough approach to the development and enhancement of the planting design throughout the gardens is evident. Each year a different area is carefully redesigned, with Dan involving Tom and volunteers in the process. Often plants are raised from cuttings and seed to provide staff with an overview of the whole horticultural cycle of plant establishment and growth. Complex, carefully conceived combinations of bulbs, herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees have been completed to provide an unfolding succession of plant colour and foliage interest throughout the year. 

I particularly like the development of different character areas within the overall garden layout. These include the rose garden, shade planting beneath groups of trees, mixed plant beds in full sun and the soon to be established fern garden and herb/kitchen garden. 

The ingenious use of plant containers where planting is renewed each year adds further interest to predominantly hard landscape areas. The collection of small troughs for alpine plants close to the main entrance to the castle provides small scale detailed interest to an otherwise forgotten corner. Wherever possible vertical wall and fence planes are clothed with colourful climbing plants such as clematis, honeysuckle and sweet peas. 

Whenever I have visited Whitstable Castle I have never seen litter or evidence of malicious damage or vandalism. The quality of the planting and presentation of the gardens appears not as a public park but as a private residence. 

It is clear that Tom and the team of volunteers have elevated the landscape setting to Whitstable Castle from the ordinary to the extraordinary and very special over the last four years. Along the way many people have participated and learnt new skills, and in some cases, have changed the course of their lives. There are still further challenges ahead, but if external funding can be obtained Dan and his team have the skills and enthusiasm to reach new heights. 

It is important to note the importance of Dan’s role in the whole process; without him and his horticultural design skills and ability to lead and encourage others the quality of the gardens would soon decline. Dan and his team play a crucially important part in attracting visitors and so directly affect the economic sustainability of Whitstable Castle. 

As a charitable trust, Whitstable Castle is well placed to apply for a wide range of external funding to assist in project work, training and events. Funding cannot generally be used for staff salaries. 

The gardens at Whitstable Castle are expertly managed and presented. I always look forward to visiting and will continue to recommend the location to others. Long may Dan and his team carry on their very impressive work.  

​Anthony Dance
Landscape Architect CMLI
Canterbury City Council
April 2014  

The gardens have undergone a stunning transformation over a 4 year period of restoration and redesign, supported by the National Lottery’s ‘Parks for People Fund’ and Canterbury City Council. The Castle's garden team is seeking to recreate the 'Regency' style garden that Wynn Ellis favoured in the 1800s by replanting in colour blocks throughout the grounds. There are also the challenges of Kent clay and sea-facing winds to overcome, which means that plant selection is a challenge!

​In the gardens you will see a large variety of established plants which have been grown here since the gardens were first laid out in the 1780’s. Some plants came from trips abroad by the owners of the house. Mature oak trees line the Gate House drive. The rose garden is planted with roses and other climbers, with beautiful scents filling the air as you wander under the pergola admiring the restored central fountain. On the lower terrace you will find borders filled with many varieties of plants. Seating is provided throughout to allow you to rest and take in the views and fresh sea air. Just a short walk from the main Castle is the Castle Tea Gardens, with lush herbaceous borders and terraced lawns, once again with glorious views out to sea across the Thames Estuary to the Isle of Sheppey and beyond, to the Essex coastline.