The Garden Guide

Knoll Gardens and Nursery

A great place to see and buy ornamental grasses. There is an inventive garden attached to a nursery. The collection of grasses is of note and is becoming nationally and internationally recognised. The show garden also features a gravel garden and meadow garden.

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Head Gardener's Comment

Evoking nature’s profuse spontaneity, Knoll Garden’s meadow-style drifts merge almost seamlessly across its 4-acre garden.
From sunny perennial meadows to prairie style and tough easy-care, green lawn substitutes, the garden provides an abundance of practical planting ideas in an inspirational environment that also offers a haven for rest and relaxation.
Knoll’s owner, Neil Lucas is the UK’s leading authority on ornamental grasses. Best-selling author, RHS Council Member and Senior Judge, his guiding principles are key to the garden’s continuing evolution. Amongst its framework of rare and unusual trees and shrubs Neil has threaded an abundance of grasses and flowering perennials to spectacular effect. These robust planting schemes are all chosen to suit existing growing conditions and mimic nature, creating thriving low-maintenance plant communities. With stunning good looks, the relaxed gardening style is beneficial to wildlife with Neil’s naturalistic approach providing food, water, shelter and places to raise young.
Anyone looking to bring nature into their own garden will find themselves spoilt for ideas at Knoll. Neil’s Mediterranean-style gravel garden is regularly featured in the national press: his Sunny Meadow, an adaptation of a traditional English meadow more suited to smaller English gardens has also received national interest, using plants from Knoll’s own range to create a mini-meadow producing an amazing amount of flower throughout the season. A new sedge meadow was planted in 2016. Taking its inspiration from the Californian style, it showcases the pure effects of soft green foliage when seen en masse whilst the garden as a whole provides the perfect location to see the plants grown in Knoll’s award-winning nursery at their best.
A full event programme includes guided walks, workshops, masterclasses and plant fairs and all garden visitors receive a tree trail, highlighting some of the rarer specimens within Knoll’s mini arboretum as well as information about the garden’s history. Knoll’s Chelsea Gold Medal-winning nursery sells many of the plants found within the garden and can also offer planting advice whilst Knoll’s website provides a comprehensive insight into how to recreate Knoll’s relaxed style and bring a flavour of the natural world into your own garden.

Photograph © Knoll Gardens
Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Photograph © Dianna Jazwinski/Knoll Gardens
Photograph © Knoll Gardens
Photograph © Dianna Jazwinski/Knoll Gardens
Photograph © Knoll Gardens


In the early 1970s planting began on a carrot field and semi-wooded overgrown area of scrub alongside an existing market garden and nursery called The Knoll. This collection of plants increased rapidly and it became known as Wimborne Botanic Garden. Many of the fine trees seen today, including the Eucalyptus, are from these initial plantings.

In 1988, in the same year as the garden appeared on BBC TV's Gardeners World, the business changed ownership. The new owners created the water and formal gardens and did much to improve visitor facilities. The name was changed to Knoll Gardens, reflecting the original nursery name.

Early in 1994 Knoll came into the care of Neil Lucas and John & Janet Flude who carried out a major refurbishment, bringing with them many interesting and unusual plants from their own collections.

Today Knoll has a national reputation for its ornamental grasses grown within its own nursery which continues to supply plants to both the show garden and to the general public.

Plants of note

Spectacular in autumn are the spindle trees or Euonymus with their fascinating brightly coloured fruits set off by wonderful fall colour. E. Red Cascade has a gently drooping habit with leaves that turn a gorgeous red.

Probably the tallest grass is Miscanthus giganteus forming wonderful pillars of bright green gracefully curving leaves. This seldom flowers in the UK but is unrivalled as a tall screen or accent as can be seen from the several groups around the garden.

At the other end of the height scale is the much lower Carex Ice Dance with a subtle green and white variegation it is superb at creating hassle free, good looking cover even in dry shade, which can be one of the most difficult of conditions to plant successfully.

Specialist Horticultural Advice
Knoll Gardens is also home to Neil Lucas MI Hort, internationally renowned ornamental grass specialist, author and RHS Council Member. When not on plant hunting trips overseas, lecturing or judging at flower shows, Neil is very much hands-on in the garden, constantly developing its modern naturalistic style, overseeing new plant trials, running masterclasses and leading walks and talks; all designed to help budding enthusiasts find out more about gardening with grasses. Neil’s extensive horticultural career and natural affinity with nature has also left him well placed to provide practical advice, garden consultancy and stunning planting schemes to ensure you get your garden moving in the right direction. With a career spanning private and public projects, ranging from NHS hospitals to private gardens, zoo and stately homes, Neil makes frequent guest appearances on radio and television as well as featuring alongside Knoll Gardens in the national press.

Stapehill Road, Hampreston, Wimborne, Dorset, England, BH21 7ND

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Visit the Knoll Gardens and Nursery website

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