The Barham family, who have spent four generations creating the wonderful Hole Park Gardens, are celebrating a significant anniversary this year – the centenary of the garden which was first completed in 1923 before being opened to the public in 1927.

The new ‘Centenary’ Walled Garden has been designed in celebration of 100 years since the founder of the gardens, Arthur, the great-grandfather of the current owner Edward Barham, was proud enough to state that ‘I have a garden’. Arthur had experienced the rigours of the First World Ward, including losing his eldest son, and came home so changed that he took early retirement and devoted himself to creating a beautiful garden to go with his new home.

The award-winning Hole Park Gardens lie just outside the pretty village of Rolvenden and are a delight to visit during any season.  From mid-April to mid-May the highlight of the garden is the stunning ‘Bluebell Spectacular’.

Edward Barham was inspired to create this new walled garden through reading his great grandfather’s diary where, in 1923, having already spent five years in developing and planning, he was finally able to write ‘I have a garden’ and to invite his friends to come and enjoy it.  Arthur went on to be one of the founding fathers of what we now know as the National Garden Scheme.  The tradition of recording activity in the Estate journals continues to this day.

Edward Barham said: “The design was developed in house by Head Gardener Quentin, with his Deputy Joe Archer with my enthusiastic support.  We adopted a reverse approach to plan the garden from the outer limits, rather than to start with a centerpiece, which would immediately have been off center! With a generous planting scheme against the walls, fronting an ovular path and a very much reduced lawn centrepiece. It’s been so excited watching this project come together and for Hole Park to proudly be able to say, ‘we still have a garden’ which has been shared with visitors for the past 100 years.”

Work on the new centenary walled garden started in January 2022, to remove existing beds and paths and lay the oval path using specialist paviour bricks. The hard landscaping contract was carried out by local landscape specialists, Everything Outside Ltd, of Rolvenden.  Last year, visitors were able to view information boards showing the proposed changes and were invited to give their own ideas and suggestions on the project.

Head Gardener Quentin Stark said: “This extensive project includes planting over 250 different varieties of plant; some of which have been cared for and replanted from the previous garden plan. Others have been sourced from local growers and suppliers.

“Established roses, which have been in situ for around 40 years, remain as part of the scheme and this year visitors will see Rosa “Pauls Himalayan Musk” and Rosa “Etoile de Hollande”, both climbing roses with beautiful fragrance.  Exochorda “The Bride” is another well-established shrub which has been positioned alongside the house in this garden.

“Mixed herbaceous borders will display Helinium, Rudbeckia, Kniphofia, Epimedium, Panicum, Delphiniums, Geraniums, Penstemon, Salvia, Thalictrum, Eryngium, Agapanthus, Echinacea, Euphorbia, Nepeta, Amsonia, Phlox and Achillea to name but a few.

“We have designed this planting scheme to give a full season of colour and we hope that visitors will become immersed in the design throughout the year.  It’s important to note that within the planting each cultivar has space to grow, develop and demonstrate its natural shape without competition from its neighbours, creating a tapestry of colour and texture.”

The gardens will reopen to the public on 1st April and will be open every day to 30th June 2023: 11am to 6pm.

From 1st July the gardens will open from 11am on Wednesdays and Thursdays to the end of October.  During October the gardens are open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for Autumn Colour.

Tickets will be available to book in advance online at or can be purchased upon arrival.