4 Stunning British Celebrity Gardens You Have to See

Explore the secret gardens of some of the U.K.'s most celebrated creatives.

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Getty Images/Emma McIntyre

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Getty Images/Jacopo Raule

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Getty Images/CNBC

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Photo By: Hugo Rittson Thomas/The Secret Gardeners

Sting's Labyrinth

When he’s home, musician Sting enjoys a grass labyrinth he and his wife Trudie created. Once a mown maze, it was built up with soil and npw takes about 25 minutes to walk. The estate’s gardener clips the top paths with a narrow cylinder mower and uses a rotary mower for the lower ones, where leaves and other debris tend to collect. There are other mown lawns on the grounds, as well as formal plantings and a kitchen garden where pears, onions, leaks and kale are grown.

Sting and Trudie Styler's Lime Walk

Trudie and Sting Styler enjoy walks under interlaced branches on their garden’s Lime Walk. Trudie says she fell in love with property, Lake House, after spotting a 300-year-old copper beech tree and sensing the opportunity to create a magical place. Husband Sting agreed. Now the steps in front of their home are bordered by foxgloves, hardy gernamiums and hellebores, and there’s a rose garden Trudie added in memory of her mother, who adored pink ‘Prima Ballerina' roses. Trudie also designed a lake (despite the estate’s name, it didn’t have one. Incredibly, a woman’s skeleton, believed to date to 400 AD, was unearthed when the lake was dug. After archeologists returned the skeleton, the Stylers had it re-buried on an island in the water. Later, visiting Buddhist monks created a sand mandala at Lake House. When the mandala was destroyed, as is the custom, the monks happened to scatter the sand on the burial spot.

The Secret Gardeners, by Victoria Summerley

It’s true: gardeners can’t resist peeking over fences to see what everybody else is growing. With Victoria Summerley’s book, The Secret Gardeners: Britain’s Creatives Reveal Their Private Sanctuaries, you get a look into the seldom-seen, exquisite gardens belonging to U.K. notables like Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Sir Richard Branson and others. The book cover pictures the Wiltshire home of Trudie Styler and her husband, the musician known as Sting.

Jeremy Irons

Before his career took off, Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons made extra money with cleaning and gardening jobs. Today, he owns a home in Watlington, Oxfordshire, where he likes to host the local flower show and play the fiddle in spontaneous music gatherings. His garden features a classic English design and includes such plants as climbing roses, sweet peas, bellflowers, catmint, and hydrangeas like ‘Annabelle’. A handsome weeping pear tree is loaded with white blooms in spring and ornamental fruits in fall.

Hedges at Irons' Kilcoe Castle

A fountain sits between these dwarf hedges at Irons’ home, Kilcoe Castle, in West Cork, and roses brighten the area with color. Irons is an environmentalist, says author Summerley, and he doesn’t think gardens should be overly tidy. He prefers plants that re-seed enthusiastically, like Mexican daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus), although he and his family do enjoy a more traditional herb garden, where they pick chives, tarragon and sage to accent their dishes.

Canoe and Pond

Some of Irons’ plants are non-natives, but English gardeners have grown them, in some cases, for centuries. Water soldiers (Stratiotes aloides), for example, bear spiky yellow flowers round his pond, and a daisy-like flower commonly called Mexican fleabane spills over steps and a terrace. He also plants yellow flag iris and angel’s fishing rod, a perennial with rose-purple, bell-shaped flowers. The arum lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) shown here border the water’s edge, near the actor’s wooden canoe. Author Summerley calls Irons as a “hands-on horticulturist" who says gardens are peaceful and calming, able to give you a glimpse into other people’s souls—as well as your own.

Ornamental Gates

Wrought-iron gates frame a view of Irons’ fountain (look closely to see the graceful swans around its base). The large, white flower heads of Sitpa gigantea lean over the edge of the path. Yuccas, also known as Spanish daggers (Yucca gloriosa) also border the gates and are tough enough to withstand the freezing winter temperatures. Irons’ limestone Regency house, which may date back to 1820, features arched windows and a Welsh slate roof.

Rupert Everett

Rupert Everett wears many hats: actor, director, producer and writer. He and his mother, Sara, live in Wiltshire, where the family has owned their home since Everett was a teenager. They garden along the banks of the River Avon, and because they’re considered “riparian owners,” they’re required to control any invasive species and avoid obstructing or polluting the water.

Rupert Everett's Estate

The Everetts’ lily pond is behind the house. An antique copper wash tub serves as a planter and holds annuals in the summertime. It’s surrounded by Darmera peltata, a deciduous perennial commonly known as umbrella plant. Sara favors hot colors, like the dramatic burgundy-reds of ‘Nuit d’Ete’ dahlias and the crimson-changing-to-rich-purple tones of ‘William Shakespeare 2000,’ a David Austin rose.

Water Feature at the Everetts' Home

Clay pots of bedding plants stand along the Everetts’ stone-edged water feature. The family also keeps a vegetable garden between their swimming pool (not shown) and the south end of their house, where strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries flourish. A nearby border is planted with pink ‘Bowl of Beauty’ peonies and blue Tradescantia. Conifers and evergreen shrubs thrive in a front garden, while another border features red valerian, alliums and roses.

Sir Richard Branson

After Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and his wife moved to the British Virgin Islands, their adult children, Sam and Holly, bought their parent's estate near Kidlington, in Oxfordshire. Sam, Summerly reports, says his dad still likes to visit his former home and stroll around the lake he created. Sir Richard added several islands to provide habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

Sir Richard Branson's Garden

The Cherwell River, which runs through the Bransons’ gardens, spills into the manmade lake after heavy rains. Columbines (aquilegia) bloom along the banks, reflecting the family’s love of wildflowers and naturalistic plantings. Today, the garden that Sam and Holly share has been divided into a lawn where their children can play, and another area consisting of box parterres filled with sedums, Stachys, tall verbena, echinaceas and other perennials.

Pergola at Kidlington

This timber pergola sits on a lush lawn near Sam Branson’s home. There’s hot tub to the rear, where pink Persicaria bistortata, ‘China Pink’ tulips, hostas and perennial coneflowers provide color. After Sam and Holly bought the property from their parents in 2008 they hired a designer friend to renovate the gardens. Their request: lots of colorful but sustainable plants, such as bougainvillea, that would remind them of the gardens they saw when they visited the elder Bransons’ gardens in the Caribbean.

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