A visit to Ramster Gardens, Surrey

by Jan

Ramster Gardens is a hidden gem, nestled in the Surrey Hills.  This enchanting garden near Chiddingfold covers 25 acres of mature woodland and is open to the public for part of the year. With its stunning collection of azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellia, it is one of the best places in Surrey for spring flowers.

We made our first visit to Ramster Gardens at the start of May, when it was a mass of colour.  We were also keen to see the Sculpture Trail that is currently exhibiting.  Read on for our guide to a family day out at Ramster Gardens, so you can plan your own visit.

100 years of Ramster Gardens

Flowers at Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

This year Ramster Gardens is celebrating its centenary year.  It was first landscaped in the 1890s by Sir Harry Waechter, with assistance from the neighbouring nurseries, Gauntletts of Chiddingfold.  Later, in 1922 Sir Henry and Lady Norman purchased Ramster Hall and it has remained in their family ever since.

The family joined the National Gardens Scheme in 1927 and have endeavoured to maintain and improve the gardens since then. They use the main house, Ramster Hall, for events such as weddings, and the gardens are open to all.

Look out for the new red dragon bench in the Centenary Garden, introduced to celebrate 100 years of the family’s time at Ramster House.

What can you see at Ramster Gardens?

Azaleas at Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

Although they gave us a map of the gardens, visitors are free to meander at will.  We started on the main path, but then veered off to make a tour of the perimeter.

This route took us up through the Azalea Garden and to the Camellia Walk.  In early May, all the flowering shrubs were in bloom and the colours were breathtaking.

We passed sculptures along the way, but wanted to do a second lap to enjoy these more thoroughly.

The bog garden, Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

The outer path then took us to Ant Wood, where we found some vibrant red rhododendrons.   From here, stepping stones took us past the Cabbage Skunks and other-worldly looking plants in the Bog Garden.

Most of the garden is flat and accessible.  It has several benches along the way, so you can stop and enjoy the views.

The Woodland Trail

Woodland walk, Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

The woodland trail is a more rugged route that leads down to the lake.  Here you’ll spot a red bridge, one of the many Japanese influences in the garden. In the main gardens, you can also enjoy a variety of maples and acers, which are at their prime in autumn.

You’ll also see the tallest grand fir in Surrey.  Unfortunately, this gigantic tree was a casualty of storm Eunice in February, and now lays horizontally.  However, you can still get a feel for how enormous it was before it fell!

Bluebells at Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

As we emerged from the woods, I was excited to see the carpet of bluebells in the glade.

The tea shop at Ramster Gardens

After our first tour of the gardens, we returned to the café for a pit stop.  The tea room serves hot drinks and cakes, as well as sandwiches and afternoon tea.

It was too early for lunch, so we opted for hot chocolate and homemade cake.  The cake was tasty and prices were reasonable.

The Sculpture Trail

Pig sculpture, Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

After our pick-me-up, we returned for a closer look at the Sculpture Trail, a temporary exhibition from the Surrey Sculpture Society.  The trail consists of over 100 original sculptures spread within the gardens.

Although Ramster Gardens is family-friendly, the sculpture trail provides an additional appeal for children.  The collection includes many animals and also some rather clever use of recycled cutlery!

Sculpture-of-wild boars, Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

All the art pieces are for sale, though with prices up to £9000, they were very much out of our budget.  However, it was still  fun to pick our favourite (the pigs) and guess how much each sculpture cost.

It’s a good day out in Surrey for kids, especially younger ones.  I dragged a teenager along (on the promise of a game of monopoly!), but he actually really enjoyed his visit.  You should allow about 2 hours for your visit, or longer if you stay for lunch.

The Sculpture Trail at Ramster Gardens is running from 2nd April to 5th June 2022.  Admission is free with your entrance to the gardens.

Practical information for your visit

How to get to Ramster Gardens?

Ramster Gardens is on the outskirts of Chiddingfold in Surrey.  It is about 25 minutes south of Guildford on the A283.  It is on the edge of the South Downs National Park in West Sussex.

The address is: Petworth Road, Chiddingfold, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4SN.

If you’re coming by train, there’s a direct line from Waterloo to Witley, which takes one hour.

Parking at Ramster Gardens

There is plenty of parking at Ramster Gardens, with a toilet block on one side.  The ticket office and café are adjacent to the car park.

Opening times at Ramster Gardens

Ramster Gardens is open every day from 10am to 5pm from spring (end of March) until autumn.

Admission to Ramster Gardens

Admission prices to Ramster Gardens are as follows (updated in Feb 2023):

  • Adults: £9
  • Children (5 to 16): £3
  • Under 5s: free

We thought the admission price was good value for money.  Sometimes they offer reductions as part of the BBC Gardeners World 2 for 1 offer, but not whilst the sculpture trail is on.

Click here for more details on admission prices at Ramster Gardens.

Have you been to Ramster Gardens?  We’d love to hear your comments or questions below.

Pin for later: A sculpture trail in Ramster Gardens

A sculpture trail in Ramster Gardens, Surrey, UK

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