Beautiful Gardens To Visit This Spring
With more than 2,000 species of exotic plants and trees, the Barbican Conservatory is a great way to spend an afternoon among plants in the centre of London – especially if the weather isn’t up to scratch. As well as tree ferns, date palms, and banana and ginger plants, there’s also a large collection of succulents and cacti to see. Don’t miss the koi carp and terrapins in the ponds. You can also stop by the Barbican Centre to see an exhibition, a number of which are free to view.
Bowood Woodland Garden
Bowood Woodland Garden is open for six weeks during the flowering season from mid-April to early June. During this time, the 30-acre garden is filled with rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and bluebells, as well as 30 hybrid plants which were thought to be extinct. Each week, a different path is mapped out in the garden to take visitors through the best display of flowers and, for the first time this year, there will be guided tours. Stop for tea and cake at the Nosh Box at the end of the route.
Hughenden Manor Gardens
National Trust-owned Hughenden Manor was once home to prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. Part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the vast parkland and forest surrounding the manor is a lovely setting for a walk or picnic – especially as such activities aren't permitted in the formal gardens. There are over 680 acres to explore, but some of the best spots can be found along the Boundary walking route which has beautiful views of the Chiltern Hills.
Clumber was once the home of the Dukes of Newcastle. Today, the 3,800-acre estate has beautiful gardens and woodlands, home to an impressive array of wildlife. Walk through Cedar Avenue, which is lined with hundreds of cedars, before visiting the ornamental bridge and the four-acre walled kitchen garden. The gardens are also home to the national rhubarb collection, with over 130 varieties, as well as a national apple collection. In addition to its well-trodden paths, there are 32km of cycling trails through a variety of landscapes and terrains.
Although Sissinghurst was once a prison in the 1700s, it’s now one of the most beautiful National Trust gardens in the south east, created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson. For an interesting day out, make the 90-minute drive from London to the Weald of Kent to walk around the 450-acre estate and climb to the top of the castle for panoramic countryside views. There’s a lovely walking trail around the castle, which can be completed in 90 minutes, passing a medieval moat and a beautiful lake. Pick up a coffee or sandwich at the Granary café on the estate or book an afternoon tea for a special treat.
Blickling Hall is a Jacobean manor house on a vast estate comprised of 4,600 acres of land. The formal gardens have been maintained over three centuries and many of the original features remain, like the orangery, temple and planting parterre which is awash with golden daffodils in early spring. It’s a vast estate so you could easily spend a few hours exploring on foot or bike. Don’t miss the walled garden which has been restored in recent years with an abundance of fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Kyoto Garden at Holland Park
Holland Park is home to a beautiful 55-acre Japanese garden. This is one of the few spaces in London where you can see a range of native Japanese plants and flowers in an authentic setting. The garden was a gift from the city of Kyoto in 1991 to commemorate the long friendship between Japan and Great Britain. As well as a huge collection of koi carp, there are striking waterfalls, stone lanterns, beautiful maple trees and peacocks wandering the grounds.
Commuter city St Albans sits right on the London border, so this particular garden is an easy one to visit in an afternoon. Once a Roman settlement, the city’s Verlanium Park is a large open space which circles a vast lake. Home to more than 100 acres of greenery, the park is split into three areas, with plenty of space for grandchildren to run around. Make sure to wander around the Roman ruins and visit the beach courts.
The Savill Garden
Part of the Windsor Great Park estate, The Savill Garden is home to one of the best floral displays in the country. Since its creation in the 1930s, the garden has been redesigned several times, and its gardeners continually refresh the plant and flower display. One of the main highlights is the rose garden, home to over 2,500 roses, and the Valley Garden which is teeming with wildlife including deer. Later in the summer, the estate will open a new adventure play area for kids, but there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic in the meantime.
Borde Hill is a Grade II-listed heritage building just north of Haywards Heath in West Sussex. Set in nearly 400 acres of heritage parkland, visitors can explore the formal gardens as well as its woodland area and South Park with its tranquil lakes. During the spring months, you’ll see a beautiful display of flowering magnolias, camellias, azaleas and swathes of rhododendrons, before roses sprout up in the summer. Ideal for a lovely day out with grandchildren, the estate has a rotating roster of activities throughout the year, from Easter races and garden trails to spring plant fairs.
This National Trust Edwardian estate in Sevenoaks is home to an extensive range of exotic plants and tropical trees from around the world. Located on one of the highest spots in Kent, the gardens offer panoramic views over the Weald, and there are plenty of activities for families to enjoy. Find a quiet spot in the picnic grounds at lunchtime, then walk through the Fairy Kingdom where children can head on an adventure to meet the Fairy Queen, before exploring the wild play area.
The Newt in Somerset
For a special day out, head to The Newt in Somerset. A direct train from London Paddington to Castle Cary, followed by an eight-minute drive, will transport you to one of the best hotels in the south west – visitors can pay for a day pass or annual pass for year-round access. The Georgian country house is surrounded by beautiful woodlands and gardens, while the garden restaurants serve seasonal produce, led by what is growing in the estate’s gardens and orchard. If you’ve got a head for heights, take an aerial walk through the trees, then get hands-on with soil, scents, botany and design at The Story of Gardening exhibition.
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