Gardening leave

Round & About

gardens

How does your garden grow? Does it rival Chelsea Flower Show or is it just patches of green and brown in need of some love and attention? Once it looks good, sit back and enjoy it in style and comfort

We’ve had some good weather in the last few weeks and that has definitely been a bonus as we all adhere to the ‘stay in’ restrictions. The other thing it’s meant is that we’re all enjoying our gardens more – showering them with TLC and generally being more appreciative of our personal green space.

And as we move towards summer with fingers crossed for both sunshine and being able to be with our family and friends again, let’s get out in our gardens and make the most of them!

It’s really important at this time to think about our mental wellbeing as well as keeping physical activity up, simply weeding and prepping pots for new plants boosts your spirits. Then sit back and admire your handy work in some stylish furniture on your patio or decking and under the shade of a gazebo!

The lawn

The crowning glory of many a garden is the lawn and whether you’re attempting to emulate Wembley-like turf for the kids to play football on or a lush green carpet to simply sit back and admire, how do you achieve that? You may have had to reseed in the spring with regular feeding, the lawn is a living plant like any other in your garden and needs nurturing. Cut the grass little and often and give it air if needed, make deep holes to allow it to become aerated and you’ve given yourself a good start.

Pots and containers

If you only really have a patio or small space to make the most of, pots and containers are the answer. Not only are they a practical way to grow plants, they’ll be easier to maintain – just remember they need a lot of root space, water and stability to protect them from the wind. And there are a great variety of pots and containers out there now not just the traditional terracotta, although you could update these with a lick of paint making them as colourful and attractive as the plants they’ll hold.

Outdoor entertaining

This is the fun part of the garden and even if we can’t have our friends and family round to enjoy it at the moment with us, making those video calls with a glass of wine in the garden does at least make it more bearable! More and more now gardens are becoming a true extension of people’s homes so the need for a paved entertaining area with space for a table and chairs is essential.

The ambitious among you could also get your teeth into a pizza oven too, it could be used as a wood-fired fireplace even if you aren’t hungry. Sunken fire pits are becoming more popular and for the really decadent, how about a hot tub to help extend the use of the garden into the evening and in the cooler weather?

Talking of the weather, while we’ve been lucky the past few weeks with some glorious sunshine to enjoy, we all know how fickle the English climate can be so some sort of shelter is a must, choose a summerhouse, gazebo, pergola, awning, shade sails or umbrellas – you’re spoilt for choice if the weather does spoil the party.

Water features

You’ve got the basics done so now it’s time to take it up a notch, how about a water feature to enhance the space and provide a focal point, not to mention the relaxing sound running water makes. Water features don’t just mean ponds, there are any number of ornamental structures available which needn’t take up a great deal of space but can be a real talking point.

Flooring

Decking or natural stone paving are the most traditional methods of flooring for your garden space, think about what you want to use your garden for and if it’s uneven and you want to avoid enormous amounts of levelling then gravel may be the answer.

Lighting

How about shedding some light on your garden too – it will allow you to eat, read or just sit and enjoy it long into the evening and lighting doesn’t have to mean multi-coloured Christmas tree-like adornments, although if it’s a party garden that may be ideal. From spotlights to tea lights, stylish decorative lighting needn’t cost the earth. The right lighting really can add a magical touch to your garden but make sure you position it well – you don’t want guests to feel they are being interrogated!

Play area

Many gardens need to fulfil more than just one function, as well as being somewhere to relax, for many families they have to be somewhere children can play too. So how to combine the two? Perhaps screen off an area using trellis, use a shed to store bulky equipment, consider natural materials for swings and playhouses so it blends in more than manmade alternatives – it’s more environmentally friendly too.

Growing your own

If you’re lucky enough to have room in your garden to grow some veggies, there has never been a better time to give it a go. Not only does it deal with environmental concerns but it’s also a cheap alternative, why not get the kids involved and turn it into part of home schooling too! Nothing beats the taste of fresh veg, herbs and fruit grown by your own hands and don’t let lack of space stop you, tomatoes and strawberries can be grown in pots.

Vertical gardens

These are a great way for people with small gardens to surround themselves with plants. Green walls and vertical gardening allows urban-dwellers to make more of their space. Specialist green wall companies are popping up who can install and help maintain your systems.

Wildlife friendly gardens

Do your bit for the environment with plants and structures that attract wildlife, birds, insects and small mammals. Log piles, hedgehog boxes, bee hotels and more will help to bring wildlife that is interesting to watch, and keep down pests such as slugs and aphids. Many plants are attractive to pollinating insects too.

And most importantly once you’ve created your perfect haven make sure you take time to enjoy it with a glass of something refreshing!

Need some inspiration...

Many gardens can be toured virtually while closed, take a look at:
RHS Wisley – enjoy the Glasshouse, Wisteria Walk, Rock Garden and The Mixed Borders as well as aerial views of the gardens
The National Garden Scheme (NGS) has launched a virtual library of tours around its gardens, find out more at ngs.org.uk
Virtual tours, gardens through the ages and top gardening tips can be found at

Chawton House virtual gardens

Round & About

gardens

Celebrate gardens of all shapes and sizes with two days of talks, Q&As, interviews and readings… all online, and all for free

‘Get out’ and enjoy Chawton House’s virtual garden festival this weekend on May 30th and 31st at this garden event like no other.

The 400-year-old manor house was owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward who gave his mother and sisters the nearby bailiff’s cottage, which became Jane Austen’s House Museum.

The event will bring you an exciting programme inspired by the Chawton House gardens and collections. Gardening talks and tips, botanical workshops, discussions with heritage gardeners, and a chance to take part in a virtual ‘best in show’ competition on Instagram will all feature.

Find out more about what it takes to manage a country house garden, the inspirations behind them and the team managing the gardens at Chawton House.

Learn about the extraordinary botanical women such as Elizabeth Blackwell who was also the inspiration behind their herb garden.

Take a virtual walk on Chawton House’s Jane Austen Garden Trail and find out more about Jane Austen and her love for gardens. There will also be plenty of opportunities to ask any questions that you might have as the Chawton House team share tips throughout the weekend to use in your own gardens.

Just register for your free weekend ticket and Chawton House will send you the full programme and line up. All content is free excluding their online creative writing workshops. There is a cost of £5 per session with festival sign ups given priority booking.

To find out more

Surrey Hills

Round & About

gardens

The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is looking forward to welcoming people back to visit but stress this is not the time to come and enjoy the countryside.

They want to reinforce the Government’s message in the releasing of lockdown measures in the countryside and encourage you to use the greenspaces closer to home and observe social distancing rather than travel distances.

Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board comments:

“As we move out of the lockdown period over the coming months we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We know you will be keen to return to the Surrey Hills but just for now please stay local! This will ensure we all respect Government safety measures, local communities and wildlife.

“As freedom returns and we embrace a new normal, we will be keen for everyone to come and enjoy the benefits of natural beauty while supporting the local business community who very much need our custom at this time thank you.”

This very slight lifting of lockdown measures will still see many businesses remain closed, particularly those catering for the visitor such as attractions, hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, public toilets etc. The worry for many rural communities is people descending on beauty spots and picturesque Surrey villages making social distancing difficult and therefore increasing the risk of spreading the disease.

Chris Howard, Chairman of the Tourist Board – Visit Surrey added: “Whilst we are all anxious to get back out into the countryside, it is worth bearing in mind that facilities are still very limited due to the coronavirus restrictions. This means a lack of open toilets, and places to get food.

“Plan your outings carefully and get to know some of the amazing places right on your doorstep. Remember, the lockdown rules have only been tweaked slightly.”

Stephanie Fudge, National Trust General Manager for the Surrey Hills reinforced this saying that while the National Trust has been working on reopening plans, the safety of staff, volunteers, visitors and local residents is the priority.

She said: “Any reopening will need to be gradual and phased and visitors’ experience is likely to be different from usual, including the need to manage volume at our pay for entry places. Countryside car park opening will also be phased.”

Surrey Hills AONB has set out some key guidance points for accessing the Surrey Hills over the coming months:

· Keeping yourself and others safe is paramount and we encourage you to adhere to guidance set out by DEFRA in their Countryside Code.

· We are aware that many visitors who love to walk and cycle will have greatly missed the Surrey Hills landscape, the views and the well-known beauty spots. We encourage you to use countryside sites close to your home rather than travelling. Over the coming weeks and months we will see carparks and facilities gradually re-open and we urge you to check before you travel that car parks are open and would advise you away from the more well-known sites which may become congested and therefore difficult to socially distance.

· Please be aware that our local farms are under great seasonal pressures during this time and we would encourage you to respect their needs by keeping dogs on leads and follow all designated foot paths and bridleways to keep yourselves and farm animals safe.

· During the lockdown period, nature has had an opportunity to thrive and we ask you to look after nature by being extra cautious. Please stick to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

· We encourage you to continue supporting local during this time of transition and want to highlight all the wonderful products and services available on our doorstep in the Surrey Hills. Take a look at our list of businesses offering home deliveries, online support and services, gifts and inspiration.

 

Click for further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Gorgeous gardens: Surrey & Hants

Round & About

gardens

What better way can there be to mark spring than to get out in the garden? Karen Neville gathers some inspiring gardens worth visiting.

Surrey

Whether it’s your own garden in need of a little TLC or a visit to a stunning garden lovingly cultivated, there is nothing like getting out and enjoying one. In recent years, much has been placed on the physical and mental health benefits of gardening too, so get out there and be inspired…

• Runnymede and Ankerwycke, Windsor Road, SL4 2JL (satnav TW20 0AE)

The ideal place to relax outdoors, the river scenery is home to rolling hills, open meadows and wildlife. Why not enjoy one of the most inspiring sights at Runnymede in spring: the swathe of bluebells lit up by the sun as it flickers through the native woodland trees. Join a guided tour of Coopers Hill Woods on Sunday, 26th April, 11am-12.30pm, to discover hidden places where bluebells form a carpet in the undergrowth. Learn and observe how the trees and flora acclimatise to the changing of the seasons.

• Hatchlands, East Clandon, GU4 7RT

2020 is a celebratory year for Hatchlands Park, as it marks the 75th anniversary of this Georgian house, rolling parkland and ancient woodland coming in to the care of the National Trust. From this month stroll through the parkland and visit the Celebration Station – a tented structure which will move during the year – to the meadow, ancient woodland and by the banks of the pond. Discover the stories of the natural beauty and diversity of wildlife with photos, displays and fun nature activities. Find out how the families in the past enjoyed Hatchlands as well as leaving your own memories and thoughts about the future.

• Winkworth, Goldaming, GU8 4AD

Nestled in the heart of Surrey, Winkworth Arboretum is a beautiful green oasis, the perfect place for family adventures. Spring arrives at Winkworth with first a pop, then an explosion of colour: rhododendrons and daffodils appear first and then bluebells spread glorious purple flowers across the woodland floor. There are two play areas – a small natural play area for little ones and a larger Tree Adventure for older children, complete with a rope tunnel and fireman’s pole! With seasonal family events throughout the year and something to see whatever the weather, it’s the ideal weekend escape.

• Ramster Garden, Chiddingfold, GU8 4SN

The beautiful historic garden at Ramster opens this week, 28th, for the new season until 28th June when visitors will be able to enjoy the wildflowers, orchids, climbing roses, hydrangeas and summer flowering shrubs. Spring brings a bird watching camera where you can watch birds nesting or feeding as you take in the bright yellow daffodils and vibrant bluebells before the azaleas and rhododendrons burst into life in May.

• The Savill Garden, Egham, TW20 0UJ

The Savill Garden has earned its reputation as one of the finest woodland gardens in the country – not because it is the biggest woodland garden or that it has the largest collection of plants, but for a combination of all of these elements. Visit throughout the seasons and you will see there is always something new to discover. In exceptional years spring can begin as early as late February with the appearance of breathtaking magnolias, or it might be as late as April before we see the drifts of crocus followed by thousands of dwarf daffodils in the Alpine Meadow. Visit from mid-March onwards and you will be rewarded with a host of floral interest.

• RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, GU23 6QB

If you’re not inspired by the wonder of Wisley then nothing will inspire you – there are 240 acres of gardens to explore here in this home to some of the largest plant collections in the world. A spring must see is the carpet of crocus and highlights throughout the seasons including The Glasshouse, Rock Garden, The Mixed Borders and newly-created Exotic Garden.

• Loseley Park, Guildford, GU3 1HS

Wander through two and a half acres in the Walled Garden, divided into rooms, each has its own unique planting scheme and style. There are more than 1,000 rose bushes – count them if you can, while the flower garden has a maze of pathways and hidden corners and in among all the colour the White Garden has subtle silver and grey foliage.

• Painshill, Cobham KT11 1JE

Painshill, the beautiful landscape garden in Cobham, is a walk in a work of art. Follow the winding pathways and discover simply stunning views and beautiful follies as they unfold before you. There is a flat and even path around the Serpentine Lake for those with accessibility needs or buggies. Complete your day with a visit to the Tea Room for lunch or a homemade scone.

• The Surrey Hills Artisan Trail

You can really appreciate the great outdoors with The Surrey Hills Artisan Trail, launching on Saturday, 2nd May at Silent Pool. Join a free self-guided trail around the Surrey Hills to meet a wide range of artisans, taste local food and drink, take part in workshops and experience traditional craft skills.The launch will be followed by The Surrey Hills Artisan Festival on 16th and 17th May, celebrating local artisans in partnership with Denbies Wine Estate and Surrey Artists’ Open Studios. Enjoy delicious local food and drink and demonstrations and talks from artists sharing their skills, knowledge and passion. Visit www.surreyhills.org/events/surrey-hills-artisan-festival-2020/

Hants

• Hinton Ampner, Alresford, SO24 0LA

This masterpiece of 20th century garden design mixes formal and informal planting with splendid views throughout. The highly distinctive gardens feature manicured lawns surrounded by sculptured topiary sure to leave you drooling with envy over the state of your own unclipped bushes and shrubs. The summer months yield borders full of gloriously-scented roses. There’s an extra treat in store at Hinton Ampner too as the pop-up choir performs on Saturday, 16th May, as part of the celebration of 125 years of the National Trust.

• The Vyne, Basingstoke, RG24 9HL

Two lakes, a walled garden, formal garden and meadow along with lawns and a herbaceous border sit neatly inside The Vyne. Rest and relax in the sprawling gardens and woodlands and if it’s an invigorating walk you’re after there are plenty of paths to choose from which at this time of year will likely be coloured in a tapestry of bluebells. The Summerhouse Garden combines beautiful blooms with history including the 600-year-old oak tree which has enjoyed the company of Henry VIII, Jane Austen and Second World war evacuees. Sunny yellow daffodils will be beaming from the borders in the walled garden in spring to be replaced by dahlias in late summer.

• Woolbeding, Midhurst, GU29 9RR

“A horticultural haven bursting with colourful planting, sensational views and a whole host of surprises” is how Woolbeding is described and you can see for yourself when the West Sussex gardens reopen for the new season later this month. Once you’re there you’ll be spoilt for choice – the formal garden rooms feature an entrance garden, the west borders, well, herb and fountain gardens, the orangery, new greenhouse garden and vegetable garden. The Long Walk, by contrast, takes you to a ruined abbey and gardens filled with follies. There’s so much to see and do here you’ll need to go back to appreciate it all.

• Petworth House and Park, GU28 9LR

Petworth House is known for its fine art collection and the landscape is of equally fine quality, giving the impression of being natural, it was in fact transformed in the mid-1700s by Capability Brown.

• Gilbert White’s House & Garden, Selborne, GU34 3JH

The natural history hero was inspired by the surrounding landscape with much of the garden recreated using the notes he kept in his “garden kalendar”. The Six Quarters contains six large flowerbeds and today’s garden is a reconstruction of what his garden may have looked like and planted with many species White grew in the 18th century. Enjoy the aroma of the herb garden, the naturalists garden with pond, the main meadow, kitchen garden and orchard are all true to the original ideals and many of the historic features of the garden can still be seen including the haha, sundial and fruit wall.

• Jane Austen House Museum, Alton, GU34 1SD

She may have written about splendid gardens at grand houses but the gardens at Jane Austen’s own house are no less splendid for all their understated elegance. A wide variety of plants and wild flowers are featured in a beautiful setting beside the village green.
From the entrance courtyard you can enjoy the herb garden, many of which were used for medicinal and culinary purposes. Rose beds, the shrubbery and boundary border all feature blooms you can imagine the Bennets tending to in Pride and Prejudice.

• Chawton House, Alton, GU34 1SJ

If you’re visiting Jane Austen’s house in Alton then make sure this is your next stop. The grounds of the home of Jane’s brother Edward were restored to the English landscape style in the late 18th century with an informal lawn and open views across the estate. The gardens feature two terraces and at the highest point of the grounds you can find the Walled Garden which now features the Elizabeth Blackwell Herb Garden. Imagine yourself in Austen’s time as you walk in the shrubbery where ladies of the house would have taken their exercise.

• National Garden Scheme

This great initiative gives visitors access to more than 3,700 private gardens in England and Wales and raises thousands for charities through admissions, tea and cake. But more than that they are passionate about promoting the physical and mental health benefits of gardens too. Gardens and health week runs from 9th to 16th May and is dedicated to the positive impact gardens can have on health but throughout the year, they will be championing gardens as places of solace, recuperation and relaxation.

Whatever type of garden you favour or whatever type of gardener you are you’re sure to find some inspiration – choose from family-friendly or dog-friendly gardens, cottage or town gardens or if you fancy making a weekend of it, how about one with bed and breakfast on offer too?

• To find one near you, opening dates and times vary, visit www.ngs.org.uk

Gorgeous gardens

Round & About

gardens

What better way can there be to mark spring than to get out in the garden? Karen Neville gathers some inspiring gardens worth visiting.

Whether it’s your own garden in need of a little TLC or a visit to a stunning garden lovingly cultivated, there is nothing like getting out and enjoying one. In recent years, much has been placed on the physical and mental health benefits of gardening too, so get out there and be inspired…

CHOOSE YOUR AREA:

Gorgeous gardens: Thames Valley

Round & About

gardens

Spring is here and now is the perfect time to see patches great & small in full boom. Liz Nicholls suggests some local favourites worth a visit…

Berks

Of all pleasures in life (and I’ve dabbled in a few), gardening has to be the most rewarding. I agree with my man-crush and fellow depressive Monty Don who says: “Being outside in every weather and every season connects you to something bigger than yourself; it connects you to a rhythm of life.” We’re surrounded by so many glorious outdoor spaces which are fertile breeding ground for inspiration. Whatever size plot you have to tend, get out and enjoy any or all of the following…

• Cliveden, Taplow, SL1 8NS

A magnificent formal garden overlooking the River Thames, Cliveden boasts stunning seasonal floral displays, a six-acre parterre, a 2m yew maze, an oriental style water garden and a play area. Follow the wondrous woodland & riverside walk for fabulous views. Call 01628 605069.

• Basildon Park, Pangbourne, RG8 9NR

The gardens at Basildon Park were designed by JB Papworth around 1839, for owner James Morrison. He took what was parkland right up to the house and laid out a pleasure ground to the north, which included stunning views out into the park and countryside framed by a variety of trees and evergreen shrubbery beds. Call 01491 672382 / nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park

• Greys Court, Nettlebed, RG9 4PG

The gardens were virtually derelict when the Brunners arrived in 1937. Lady Brunner was keen to make a haven of tranquillity. The kitchen garden has its roots in the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign and is still in good use today, thanks to volunteers. Admire the wisteria walk, rose garden and buy plants to take home. 01491 628529 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court

• Stonor Park, Henley, RG9 6HF

The lush parkland of Stonor is set in a dramatic, sweeping valley deep within the heart of the Chiltern Hills. Visitors can explore, from the ponds and fountains of the 17th century Italianate Pleasure Garden to the old kitchen garden and the eclectically treed arboretum. There’s also the ancient stone circle and the Wonder Woods; perfect for little explorers!  Visit stonor.com or call 01491 638 587.

• Runnymede and Ankerwycke, Windsor Road, SL4 2JL (satnav TW20 0AE)

The ideal place to relax outdoors, the river scenery is home to rolling hills, open meadows and wildlife. Why not enjoy one of the most inspiring sights at Runnymede in spring: the swathe of bluebells lit up by the sun as it flickers through the native woodland trees. Join a guided tour of Coopers Hill Woods on Sunday, 26th April, 11am-12.30pm, to discover hidden places where bluebells form a carpet in the undergrowth. Learn and observe how the trees and flora acclimatise to the changing of the seasons. Call 01932 425686.

• The Vyne, Basingstoke, RG24 9HL

Two lakes, a walled garden, formal garden and meadow along with lawns and a herbaceous border sit neatly inside The Vyne. Rest and relax in the sprawling gardens and woodlands or follow a path to gaze on a tapestry of bluebells. The Summerhouse Garden has beautiful blooms & a 600-year-old oak tree which has enjoyed the company of Henry VIII, Jane Austen and Second World War evacuees. Call 01256 883858.

• Buscot Park, Faringdon, SN7 8BU

The pleasure gardens surrounding the late 18th-century house are glorious, comprising the Four Seasons garden which is stunning in spring, one of Britain’s finest water gardens and lovely woodland. Call 01367 240786 or visit buscot-park.com

• The Savill Garden, Egham, TW20 0UJ

The Savill Garden has earned its reputation as one of the finest woodland gardens in the country – not because it is the biggest woodland garden or that it has the largest collection of plants, but for a combination of all of these elements. Visit throughout the seasons and you will see there is always something new to discover. In exceptional years spring can begin as early as late February with the appearance of breathtaking magnolias, or it might be as late as April before we see the drifts of crocus followed by thousands of dwarf daffodils in the Alpine Meadow. Visit from spring onwards and you will be rewarded with a host of floral interest. Call 01753 860222 or visit windsorgreatpark.co.uk/savillgarden

• The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham, RG19 3FU

Packed full of interactive wildlife and natural history displays, there is a network of footpaths from small family-friendly toddles to longer yomps, surrounded by a mosaic of habitats. Call 01635 874381 or visit www.bbowt.org.uk

• National Garden Scheme – visiting many a garden near you!

This great initiative gives visitors access to more than 3,700 private gardens in England and Wales and raises thousands for charities through admissions, tea and cake. The team are passionate about the physical and mental health benefits of gardens, too. To highlight this, Gardens and Health Week runs from 9th to 16th May. Whatever type of garden you favour or whatever type of gardener you are you’re sure to find some inspiration.

• Opening dates, locations and times vary. To find one near you, please visit www.ngs.org.uk

Oxon

• Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, OX20 1PP

Sir Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife in the gardens at Blenheim Palace, which are renowned as the finest the land, from the Herb and Lavender Garden to the Marlborough Maze, started in 1705. Blenheim Lake, created by Lancelot “Capability” Brown and spanned by Vanburgh’s Grand Bridge, is the focal point of over 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland. Call 01993 810530 or visit blenheim.org

• Basildon Park, Pangbourne, RG8 9NR

The gardens at Basildon Park were designed by JB Papworth around 1839, for owner James Morrison. He took what was parkland right up to the house and laid out a pleasure ground to the north, which included stunning views out into the park and countryside framed by a variety of trees and evergreen shrubbery beds. Call 01491 672382 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park

• Greys Court, Nettlebed, RG9 4PG

The gardens were virtually derelict when the Brunners arrived in 1937. Lady Brunner was keen to make a haven of tranquillity. The kitchen garden has its roots in the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign and is still in good use today, thanks to volunteers. Admire the wisteria walk, rose garden and buy plants to take home. Call 01491 628529 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court

• Stonor Park, Henley, RG9 6HF

The lush parkland of Stonor is set in a dramatic, sweeping valley deep within the heart of the Chiltern Hills. Visitors can explore these, from the ponds and fountains of the 17th century Italianate Pleasure Garden to the old Kitchen Garden and the eclectically treed arboretum. There’s also the ancient stone circle older and the Wonder Woods! Visit stonor.com or call 01491 638 587.

• Kingston Bagpuize, OX13 5AX

Grace Charlotte Raphael set about creating the beautiful gardens here in 1939, influenced by her travels to China, Japan, Canada and South Africa. Thanks to notable plantsman Harold Hiller (later Sir), the gardens are planted with an impressive collection of trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs giving year-round interest including magnolias in spring. Visitors can enjoy the formal garden and terrace walk, woodland garden, shrub border and adjacent copses. Visit kbhevents.uk or call 01865 820259.

• Nuffield Place, Nuffield, RG9 5RY

The gardens surrounding the former home of Sir William Morris are a sight to behold, especially for their bluebells and foxgloves at the end of April, pony paddock and vegetable garden. Book in for a garden tour with one of the volunteers. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/nuffield-place or call 01491 641224.

• Buscot Park, Faringdon, SN7 8BU

The pleasure gardens surrounding the late 18th-century house are glorious, comprising the Four Seasons garden which is stunning in spring, one of Britain’s finest water gardens and lovely woodland. Call 01367 240786 or visit buscot-park.com

• Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay, OX44 9PX

Open daily 10am-5pm from April, the university-owned arboretum boasts the county’s best collection of trees, including some of the oldest redwoods and finest conifer collections in the UK, within 130 acres of historic picturesque landscape. Look out for the peacocks, too! Call 01865 610305 or visit obga.ox.ac.uk

• University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, OX1 4AZ

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden has probably the most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world. Its caretakers say there is even more biological diversity here than there is in tropical rain forests and other global biodiversity hotspots. The gardens include the glasshouses, walled garden with a water and rock garden and innovative black border. Call 01865 286 690 or visit botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk

• National Garden Scheme – visiting many a garden near you!

This great initiative gives visitors access to more than 3,700 private gardens in England and Wales and raises thousands for charities through admissions, tea and cake. But more than that, they are passionate about promoting the physical and mental health benefits of gardens, too. And to highlight this, Gardens and Health Week runs from 9th to 16th May. Whatever type of garden you favour or whatever type of gardener you are you’re sure to find some inspiration.

• Opening dates and times of the thousands of gardens vary. To find one near you to enjoy in all its glory, please visit ngs.org.uk

Wilts

• Avebury Manor & Gardens, Marlborough, SN8 1RF

Parts of Avebury Manor may date back to the 12th century. It’s well worth a visit to see the ancient stone circle, museum and manor house in the heart of this world heritage site. The friendly garden team are always on hand for advise, but on the last Friday of every month March to October, enjoy dedicated gardeners’ questions time, 2-3pm in the Monk’s Garden. Call 01672 539250.

• The Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury, SN16 9AS

Once part of the Benedictine monastery founded about 666AD, the site was cultivated by monks for medicinal herbs and also as the Abbot’s garden. Since the dissolution by Henry V111 in 1539, it has been privately owned and recently developed for garden-lovers from all over the world. There are 2,000 roses and 2,000 herbs which give a great display in the summer. In the spring borders are a mass of colours with thousands of tulips and daffodils. Walk along the river including St Aldhelm’s Pool where you might be lucky to see kingfishers and yellow wagtails. Call 01666 822212 or visit www.abbeyhousegardens.co.uk

• Lydiard Park, Swindon, SN5 3PA

The 260-acre country park at Lydiard Tregoze (its formal former name) and walled garden are well worth a visit whatever the season. In the 1740s, the St John family created the latter, a rhombus-shaped garden behind the coach house and stable buildings to grow flowers and fruit and provide a pleasant place for a post-prandial stroll. Spring is great for bird watching and to admire the vibrant bluebells before the azaleas and rhododendrons burst into life in May. Jungle Parc, with its aerial adventure zone within the woodlands, is a great place for children to let off steam. Call 01793 466664 or visit www.lydiardpark.org.uk

• The Scotchel, Pewsey, SN9 5NY

This small but lovely but nature reserve is a lovely place to meander and let children or pets paddle. Seated areas in the gladed woodland for a sit down. Search “the Scotchel” on Facebook.

• Buscot Park, Faringdon, SN7 8BU

The pleasure gardens surrounding the late 18th-century house are glorious, comprising the Four Seasons garden which is stunning in spring, one of Britain’s finest water gardens and lovely woodland. Call 01367 240786 or visit buscot-park.com

• Monpesson House, Salisbury, SP1 2EL

The garden tea room is a tranquil place for a break, with the cathedral spire beyond and beautifully restored borders. there’s a family trail and Cadbury Egg Hunt from 10th to 13th April. Call 01722 335659 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mompesson-house

• Town Gardens, Swindon, SN1 4EN

This Victorian garden is set in an old quarry which was used to produce Portland stone. Sip a tea and admire English formal gardening at its best with beautiful colours in spring, borders of polyanthus, tulips and pansies among the flowering cherries. There’s a formal pond and seating near the aviary. Call 01793 490150 or visit twigs community gardens.org.uk

• Bowood House & Gardens, Calne, SN11 0LZ

Set within 100 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown (some of the best preserved of its type), Bowood is also recognised for its award-winning walled gardens. These include an Italian-inspired terrace garden, ever-changing herbaceous border, gorgeous woodland gardens and arboretum, too. Open to the public from the start of April. Call 01249 812 102 or visit bowood.org

• Cricklade Fritillaries

Mid April, North Meadow, half a mile from the Cricklade town centre, erupts into a blaze of colour thanks to snakeshead fritillaries blooming on this ancient meadow. Flooding has badly affected the site this year but keep an eye on www.crickladecourtleet.org.uk for updates.

• The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham, RG19 3FU

Packed full of interactive wildlife and natural history displays, there is a network of footpaths from small family-friendly toddles to longer yomps, surrounded by a mosaic of habitats. Call 01635 874381 or visit www.bbowt.org.uk

• National Garden Scheme

This initiative gives visitors access to more than 3,700 private gardens in England and Wales and raises thousands for charities through admissions, tea and cake. The team are passionate about the physical and mental health benefits of gardens, too. Gardens and Health Week runs 9th-16th May. Whatever type of garden you favour or whatever type of gardener you are you’ll find inspiration.

• Opening dates, locations and times vary. To find one near you, please visit www.ngs.org.uk

Thames Valley: Glorious Gardens

Round & About

gardens

With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

Stowe

(near Buckingham, MK18 5EQ)
Cyclamen and aconites abound this year in Easter shades of purple and yellow and there’s the promise of bright bluebells after 125,000 were planted in October. The bell-shaped blooms of the Snakeshead fritillary will be bowing their heads in April-May after 200,000 were planted in a swathe around the property – set to form one of the few Snakeshead fritillary meadows in the country.

 

Cliveden

(near Maidenhead, SL1 8NS)
The six-acre parterre is bursting at the seams with 21,000 spring bedding plants filling the 16 central triangular beds. Elsewhere, 11,000 polyanthus will create a carpet of colour combining with the box hedging and topiary of this unique garden. The oriental inspired water garden is awash with dusky pink of flowering blossom and creamy-white magnolias forming stunning reflections in the water.

Basildon Park

(near Reading, RG8 9NR)
Yellow is the predominant colour at Basildon with the grounds sprayed with buttercups and daffodils. Choose one of the four paths to walk and admire violets, cowslip, cherry blossom and primroses. Further on you’ll find a sea of bluebells leaving you spoilt for choice when it comes to taking photographs.

 

The Vyne

(near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL)
The wild garden is where it’s at for The Vyne this season – from bright yellow aconites under trees to boughs of soft pink cherry blossom on the trees. Pastel blue takes over next month with star-shaped blooms of camassias and of course, plenty of bluebells to charm you too.

 

Waddesdon

(near Aylesbury, HP18 0JH)
The garden is beginning to wake from its winter sleep and colour is creeping into the spring displays. Nearly 40,000 plants will be used to recreate the Victorian splendour of yesteryear. Each area has its own colour scheme – the parterre will be blue, white and pink; the avenue will be bathed in delicate shades of yellow and white, planted in the shape of a star.

 

Nuffield Place

(near Henley, RG9 5RY)
The perfect spot for a peaceful spring stroll surrounded by herbaceous borders with spring bulbs breaking through and light mauve wisteria around the house. Foxgloves are starting to appear in the woodland, attracting insects and a hard-standing path means everyone can admire the bluebells.

hughendon

(near High Wycombe, HP14 4LA)
Visitors here will be able to wander through the handkerchief-like blooms of magnolia, frost permitting, admist the purple pink hues of dog tooth violets, blue forget me knots and bright pink of the Judas tree. Later in spring expect to see grape-like hyacinth while the walled garden will be brimming with the smells of cherry, apple, redcurrants and gooseberries.

 

Greys Court

(near Henley, RG9 4PG)
The woodland floor as been cleared ready for spring with thousands of bulbs being planted to form a blue carpet along the path to Spinney Wood to admire the daffodils, cowslips and irises. Follow the nut tree walk to the maze to enjoy a patchwork of colour with bulbs planted in a quilt-like fashion. Wander around the walled garden to find hyacinths under the 130-year-old wisteria and watch cherry blossom fall on the paths.

 

Harcourt Arboretum

(Nuneham Courtenay, OX44 9PX)
The arboretum is part of the University of Oxford which has now grown to 130 acres and is part of the Botanic Garden. The oldest part, the Pinetum and Serpentine Ride is soon to be awash with the dramatic colours of rhododendrons and azaleas while a walk in the native woodland will showcase the different types of woodland in the UK and will be carpeted with bluebells in April and May.

 

Kelmscott Manor Gardens

(near Lechlade, GL7 3HJ)
The arts and crafts garden is well worth a wander round when you’re visiting the house. The front garden is laid out from the drawing of the frontispiece in a William Morris book, the original owner, while the back is dominated by a mulberry tree which is just under 100 years old. A small orchard and a large meadow are delightful places to enjoy a spring stroll.

 

Buscot Park

(near Faringdon, SN7 8BU)
The pleasure gardens here are just that – a pleasure and time should be taken to enjoy them. The red brick walls of the original kitchen garden shelter the Four Seasons garden, resplendent with spring blooms. Woodland walks lead to a fine water garden while the front of the house features a carriage drive through mature woodland.

Pictures: National Trust

Have a look at our London and Surrey gardens if you’re thinking of going further afield

London: Glorious Gardens

Round & About

gardens

With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

savill gardens

(Englefield Green, TW20 0UJ)
Everything is coming to life, pay a visit to daffodil valley in The Valley Gardens and Spring Wood at the Savill Garden and marvel at the magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Birds are nesting so watch out for fledglings as they start to take flight. You may even be lucky enough to see young deer taking their first steps in Deer Park too.

 

Cliveden

(near Maidenhead, SL1 8NS)
The six-acre parterre is bursting at the seams with 21,000 spring bedding plants filling the 16 central triangular beds. Elsewhere, 11,000 polyanthus will create a carpet of colour combining with the box hedging and topiary of this unique garden. The oriental inspired water garden is awash with dusky pink of flowering blossom and creamy-white magnolias forming stunning reflections in the water.

Basildon Park

(near Reading, RG8 9NR)
Yellow is the predominant colour at Basildon with the grounds sprayed with buttercups and daffodils. Choose one of the four paths to walk and admire violets, cowslip, cherry blossom and primroses. Further on you’ll find a sea of bluebells leaving you spoilt for choice when it comes to taking photographs.

 

runnymede & ankerwycke

(near Old Windsor, SL4 2JL)
As nature awakens, a flush of new life spreads over the historic hills and waters of Runnymede. Riverside willows are the first to put on their springtime greenery. Blackthorn blossom helps create a sense of new life all along the riverside. Spring arrives in the form of ancient woodland flowers. Patches of bluebells, lesser celandines, dog’s mercury and wood anemones create a magical atmosphere in the protected woodland.

 

dorneywood garden

(near Burnham, SL1 8PY)
1930s-style garden, with herbaceous borders, cottage garden and lily pond. Dorneywood is traditionally the country residence of a senior member of the Government and was given to the National Trust. The house re-opens in April. Booking essential if you wish to visit. Email [email protected]

 

claremont

(near Esher, KT10 9JG)
Spring offers the chance to stroll through corridors of rhododendrons, feed tiny goslings, and make the most of the longer days, spot swathes of these regal purple flowers springing up throughout the garden. Take a stroll along the lake and up past the ha-ha wall during April to witness the seasonal display of bluebells at its very best. Swathes of daffodils first herald the new season, with camellias, cherries, azaleas and rhododendrons soon following suit.

hatchlands park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RT)
From blossom to bluebells, the grounds here are coming out of their winter hibernation and as with other properties are awash with yellows and blues. The woodland hedgerows are lit up with blackthorn blossom while later in the spring expect to see the wildflower meadow in full bloom just as the bluebell wood is going over.

 

clandon park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RQ)
As the rebuilding process continues after the devastating fire in April 2015, visitors can enjoy the magnificent sight of the park in springtime with the grounds carpeted in yellow. A pictorial trail will guide you through the garden, using historic images to take you through the years comparing past and present perspectives.

 

Polesden lacey

(near Dorking, RH5 6BD)
Prepare to be greeted by delicate white snowdrops, trumpet-like daffodils in all shades of yellow, orange and cream and bluebells at Polesden Lacey and the wider estate. Enjoy walks surrounded by colour whatever the weather.

 

old waterfield

(Ascot, SL5 7LJ)
Operating as part of the National Open Garden Scheme, this house is set in four acres between Ascot Heath and Windsor Great Park. Open from 1st April to 31st October, the garden has been developed and extended over the past few years and offers herbaceous borders, meadow with specimen trees, large vegetable garden, orchard and mixed hedging. Vistors are welcome by arrangement for groups of 10 to 25. Admission £4.50 adults, children free. For more information contact the owner Catherine Stevenson at [email protected]

Pictures: National Trust

Have a look at our Thames Valley and Surrey gardens if you’re thinking of going further afield

Surrey: Glorious Gardens

Round & About

gardens

With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

Polesden lacey

(near Dorking, RH5 6BD)
Prepare to be greeted by delicate white snowdrops, trumpet-like daffodils in all shades of yellow, orange and cream and bluebells at Polesden Lacey and the wider estate. Enjoy walks surrounded by colour whatever the weather.

 

hatchlands park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RT)
From blossom to bluebells, the grounds here are coming out of their winter hibernation and as with other properties are awash with yellows and blues. The woodland hedgerows are lit up with blackthorn blossom while later in the spring expect to see the wildflower meadow in full bloom just as the bluebell wood is going over.

Winkworth arboretum

(Godalming, GU8 4AD)
This is a true paradise for garden lovers as the arboretum really comes to life in spring with magnolia blooms joining cherry blossom and drifts of bluebells. If you’re visiting in April, the azalea walk is a mass of colour along the path to the boathouse overlooking the lake.

 

clandon park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RQ)
As the rebuilding process continues after the devastating fire in April 2015, visitors can enjoy the magnificent sight of the park in springtime with the grounds carpeted in yellow. A pictorial trail will guide you through the garden, using historic images to take you through the years comparing past and present perspectives.

 

leith hill

(near Dorking, RH5 6LU)
Rhododendron Wood will be alight with azaleas as well as rhododendrons, expect to see bush after bush of the big showy flowers. The rare, pink flowers are a sign spring is here. Other specimens will be showing their colours from April through to June. The hour-long Rhododendron Wood walk is an easy pathway through the colourful surroundings.

 

RHS garden wisley

(Woking, GU23 6QB)
Colour builds daily at Wisley, yellow daffodils and pale pink cherry blossom are already providing the perfect backdrop for a walk in the gardens. Carpets of crocuses will brighten up even the chilliest of days and the bright pinks and reds of the banks of camellias are sure to catch your eye on the hill. The top terrace will be lit up with 15,000 tulips in pink, purple, yellow and lilac.

ramster gardens

(Chiddingfold, GU8 4SN)
Opening in spring from 16th March, you can discover more than 25 acres of woodland, lake views and hillside, filled with colour. The gardens are known for their rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias as well as many rare and unusual trees and flowering shrubs.

 

painshill

(Cobham, KT11 1JE)
All the lengthy preparation for spring has paid off and the gardens at Painshill are now waking up to swathes of snowdrops, dazzling daffodils and beautiful bluebells. As with many of the gardens featured, Painshill will be offering afternoon tea for Mother’s Day. Enjoy this in the 18th century walled garden amid seasonal colours as you tuck into finger sandwiches, mini scones, cakes and tea or Prosecco.

 

savill gardens

(Englefield Green, TW20 0UJ)
Everything is coming to life, pay a visit to daffodil valley in The Valley Gardens and Spring Wood at the Savill Garden and marvel at the magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Birds are nesting so watch out for fledglings as they start to take flight. You may even be lucky enough to see young deer taking their first steps in Deer Park too.

 

petworth

(West Sussex, GU28 9LR)
In the spring meadows of the Pleasure Grounds you can expect to see snowdrops, cyclamen as well as bluebells, daffodils, and Snake Head Fritillary popping up through the next few months.Tulips will be one of the stars of the show throughout the grounds with thier distinctive bell-shaped heads popping up a variety of colours.

 

gilbert white house

(Selbourne, GU34 3JH )
Visitors to this secret Hampshire garden can marvel at the quirky features, glorious vistas and creative planting which are delightful whatever the season or weather but spring really is spectacular! Starting off with snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in March, cherry blossom in April and a sumptuous wildflower meadow in May, they are the perfect complement to the hahas, herb garden, kitchen garden and six quarters.

Pictures: National Trust

Have a look at our London and Thames Valley gardens if you’re thinking of going further afield.

Glorious Gardens

Round & About

gardens

With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

The bright patches of colour showing through after the grey of winter are a welcome sight, guaranteed to raise the spirits and none more so than those offered from the beautiful gardens in the area. Carpets of seasonal snowdrops and daffodils cover much of the grounds with swathes of blooms in all hues just beginning to break through.

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Pictures: National Trust