Looking for a day out at one of the UK’s finest gardens? Here’s Direct2Florist’s selection of six that are well worth a visit.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell, Cornwall
It’s name could come straight from the pages of a Daphne du Maurier novel and there is indeed quite a story attached to these gardens in south Cornwall. The Tremayne family lived here for 400 years, but their splendid gardens went into decline in the 20th century, after most of Heligan’s 22 gardeners perished in the First World War. The gardens were gradually claimed by bramble and ivy until, in the mid-Nineties, a group of enthusiastic gardeners decided to restore them. Heligan is now in its second decade of restoration, and is famous for its huge rhododendrons and camellias, as well as pretty lakes, and an area called The Jungle filled with ancient ferns.
Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire
Garden-lovers say that everyone should visit Stowe at least once in their life, as for many, this sprawling estate represents the ultimate in classic garden design. Laid out by legendary 18th-century landscaper Capability Brown, Stowe has more than 40 monuments, temples and little nooks, as well as ornamental lakes, wooded valleys and world-class views. One famous edifice is the Temple of Concord and Victory, a huge classical-style construction. The house, once a stately pile, is now home to posh Stowe School and guided tours run at 11am and 12pm on most days.
Howick Hall, Alnwick, Northumberland
Howick Hall, Alnwick
The one-time home of 19th-century prime minister and speciality tea inventor Earl Grey, Howick Hall sits in splendid isolation near the rocky Northumberland coast. There are different areas in the extensive grounds, such as a rockery, a beautiful woodland garden called Silverwood, and a bog garden with lots of Chinese plants. From snowdrops in March to hydrangeas in September the gardens are great at any time of the year. During the visit, you can’t not have a cup of that famous bergamot-infused brew in the Earl Grey Tea House.
Bodnant Garden, Clwyd, Wales
Looking down over the River Conwy, and across the valley to the mountains of Snowdonia, this 80-acre garden in North Wales certainly has stunning views. Bodnant is divided into an upper and lower garden, its big selling point is that it has plants and trees from all over the world, particularly from China, North America, Europe and Japan, as these are most suited to the Welsh weather and soil. Spring comes alive with daffodils and magnolia, and the Japanese azaleas are at their peak in late May.
Mount Stewart House, Garden and Temple of the Winds, County Down, Northern Ireland
Mount Stewart House graces the shore of the brooding Strangford Lough, outside Newtownards. The gardens, which were originally just boring old lawns, were lavishly re-imagined by the Marchioness of Londonderry, who created a shamrock garden and sunken garden, as well as expanding the lake and adding Spanish and Italian gardens. By the time she’d finished, there was talk of it becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Logan Botanic Garden, Stranraer, Scotland
At Scotland’s southwest tip, warmed by weather currents from the Gulf Stream, you’ll find the country’s most exotic garden, full of weird and wonderful plants from far afield. Some of the very un-Scottish trees to be admired in the woodland garden include eucalyptus and some unusual conifers from New Zealand. There’s also a bog with gunnera, which looks a bit like giant rhubarb. In summer, with the cabbage palms going strong and ferns waving in the breeze, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re in Scotland. In autumn there are winter-flowering shrubs from Australia.