By Jade Braham
Spring is finally here, bringing with it a new burst of life and a blossoming of beautiful flowers.
From magnificent magnolias to beds of daffodils and snowdrops and bluebell forests, these are the best spring gardens to visit in the UK.
Best spring gardens to visit in the UK
Hill Close Gardens, Warwick
Within the heart of Warwick are delightfully preserved Victorian pleasure gardens with unique Grade II listed summer houses. Known as The Hidden Hedge Gardens of Warwick, Hill Close Gardens are the best place to see snowdrops this springtime. There are more than 130 varieties of snowdrops on display to welcome the start of spring, including Victorian snowdrops and the modern Warwickshire Gemini.
Caerhays Castle, Cornwall
See the beautiful magnolias on display at Caerhays Castle near St Austell in Cornwall. The 140-acre gardens and castle, which overlook the sea, are open to the public in spring from February to June. Famed for its 600 different different varieties, this is the best place in the UK to see magnolias. There are also over 80 trees in the garden which can lay claim to being the biggest in the UK. For more spectacular gardens in Cornwall visit greatgardensofcornwall.co.uk
After its grand opening in the 1740s, Stourhead was proclaimed to be ‘a living work of art’ and it continues to dazzle visitors to this day. Within the world famous gardens is an enormous lake around which a walking path encounters classical temples, a Palladian bridge, exotic trees, grottos and King Alfred’s Tower. The extensive parkland is perfect for a picnic and features the Palladian house which has a regency library and art collection.
Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales
Owned by the National Trust, Bodnant Garden spans 80 acres of Italianate terraces with lily ponds and herbaceous borders, Conwy Valley views, woodlands, meadows and plants from around the globe. Among the most incredible finds are the Champion trees, and thanks to the gardens careful design visitors can enjoy a colourful display all year round. In springtime, magnolias, rhododendrons and daffodils can be seen. Whereas summertime brings waterlilies, wildflowers and roses before giving way to vibrant autumnal leaves.
Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Dunham Massey declares itself ‘a garden for all seasons’ and any garden lover will certainly be delighted to find that it features an ancient deer park and Brookheys Covert – a semi-natural wood that’s been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are several circular walks around the garden where you can find an Orangery, Victorian Bark House, Pump House and remnants of an Elizabethan Mount. Dunham Massey also has what’s considered one of the best and largest winter gardens in the UK, known as the Winter Garden, and is home to over 1,600 winter shrubs.
Trelissick Gardens, Cornwall
Set on its very own peninsula and overlooking the Fal River, Trelissick Gardens has exquisite maritime views and a trail leading to unique sub-tropical plants, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias and spring bulbs. With more than 400 acres, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy, including little doggies who will love the woodland paths that open to expansive parkland. Beyond the floral delight, Trelissick has an art gallery displaying local Cornish artwork and an intimate beach perfect for a picnic.
Beyond the Gothic Revival manor house, Knightshayes has a post-war garden and a 19th century parkland. With more than 1,200 plants and designed by Edward Kemp, the walled kitchen garden, formal terraces and ‘garden of wood’, which comprises a collection of rare trees will delight at any time of the year. The walled kitchen garden has recently been restored and is considered one of the finest in the Devon countryside. Lovers of historic houses will adore the property here too.
Blickling Hall, Norfolk
Around the magnificent Jacobean mansion at Blickling Hall there’s 4,600 acres within which are a formal garden and a Victorian sunken garden, four herbaceous borders and a 17th century fountain. The formal garden is the result of three centuries of planting and the Victorian sunken garden also features a Doric Temple and Secret Garden.
Sissinghurst Castle, East Sussex
Sissinghurst Castle Garden is a haven for poets, photographers and flower lovers alike. In the 1930s, poet and writer, Vita Sackville-West, and her author husband, Harold Nicolson, transformed the gardens to mirror the romance in her poetry. The garden design has walks that open onto ‘garden rooms’, otherwise known as enclosed gardens. These rooms feature informal arrangements with themes like the Lime Walk, the Herb Garden and the Rose Garden. The manor house has a varied history, from being an 18th century prison to the home of the women’s land army. The top of the tower offers views across the 450-acre estate.
Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland
The 18th century manor house at Castle Ward is known for its odd mixture of classical and gothic architectural styles. But beyond the building are a plethora of outdoor activities ideal for a day out in springtime. Walking or cycling along the Strangford Lough trail offers the chance to meet swans, rabbits, butterflies, woodlands and Lough shore views. The latter and the Georgian farmyard were filming locations for Game of Thrones, and there’s also a sunken garden with vivid seasonal flowers.
Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland
This baroque house was the home of the Delaval family, known as the ‘Gay Delavals’, as they liked to host flamboyant and mischievous parties – and the garden exemplifies their passion for drama. The garden at Seaton Delaval Hall includes a pond, fountain, a topiary parterre, and the Rose Garden is filled with box hedging, bushes and shrub roses with an eye-catching display of fragrances and colour.
Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
The Ashridge Estate has a varied landscape from chalk downlands to the Chiltern Hills with oak and beech woodlands. At springtime this garden is blanketed in bluebells and rare butterflies, and in summer fallow deer make an appearance. There are miles of footpaths where you’ll discover a Capability Brown landscape and Pitstone Windmill, which is thought to be one of the oldest surviving windmills in Britain.
Everyone loves a grand house. At Mottisfont you will also find a medieval priory, art gallery and riverside gardens. The property is famous for its Rose Gardens located within a walled garden, which are best seen in the last two weeks of June. But the floral display at Mottisfont extends long beyond this and springtime brings a carpet of bulbs, lavender walks, herbaceous gardens and the river never leaves your sight.
Gibside Estate, Tyne & Wear
Gibside Estate has one of the last remaining 18th century landscapes that was designed to amaze viewers and capture remarkable vistas. Within its 243 hectares are woodlands, a Palladian chapel and a ruined 18th century house. From the chapel there’s an avenue to a unique obelisk with a statue of British Liberty. Beyond this are views of the Derwent valley and miles of pathways where you might just see Roe deer, a walled garden and Red Kites.
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