Compton Acres brands itself as the south’s finest privately owned gardens. It consists of a ten acre series of separate, themed, interlinked gardens joined by landscaped trails. The gardens were designed in the 1920s by Thomas William Simpson, whose vision was to create a necklace of gardens, each one being a beautiful bead in this jewel of a garden.
Today is my second visit to Compton Acres; the first being on a school trip in 1977, so I’m interested to find out how much it’s changed…
Compton Acres overlooks the sea between Bournemouth and Poole, near Canford Cliffs. There is a free car park on site. The gardens can be reached on the Breezer 50 open top bus from Bournemouth, or the 60 from Poole.
The Gardens are open daily (excluding Christmas/New Year) from 10 am until 5 pm. Entry costs £8.95 (£7.95 concessions).
The first garden you enter is the Roman Garden; a small courtyard garden with a pool and statue.
You continue through a limestone grotto to emerge into the splendour of the Italian Garden.
A large formal garden centred around a lake with fountains, statues and spectacular floral displays. It adjoins an Italian Villa, which is available to hire for parties etc.
Continue through a small formal garden with large palms and a Venetian well, which takes you from the Italianate Gardens toward the less formal Wooded Valley.
The path passes through the sub-tropical link of brightly coloured flowers and ornate foliage leading towards the woodland.
The wooded valley is, not surprisingly, a valley filled with trees. But there is much more besides, including plenty of waterfalls bubbling through a series of pools.
Rock and Water Garden
My second favourite garden was the Rock and Water garden. Entered via a tunnel, you emerge amidst an enormous rock garden besides an ornate pool, then turn to realise that the tunnel is in fact part of the rockery.
I love sculptures so enjoyed this walkway lined with sculptures amidst a floral backdrop.
Compton Acres is definitely a place to visit across the seasons to enjoy all it has to offer. In the height of summer, the Heather Garden is not at its best. I shall be adding spring visit to see the heather garden in all its splendour onto next year’s ‘to do list’.
This small garden was originally a picnic arbour, repurposed in the 1950s after the owners’ three children died. Their son lost his life during WW2, then their two daughters died of polio, thus this pretty little garden became a place to mourn their losses.
The best has been saved until last with the stunning Japanese garden. It is built in a traditional Japanese style with a tea house, red bridges, statues and a shrine, all amidst flowers, foliage and bamboo. The focal point is a pool which you pass across via stepping stones, watched intently by koi carp.
There is also a children’s play area, cafe, gift shop and plant centre.