Many of the UK’s open gardens have been having a tough year and have had to remain closed to the public. Even larger venues are facing difficult times and smaller gardens have suffered even more. With the easing of lockdown restrictions we’re allowed to move around more freely, so why not support an independent garden this summer? Many allow picnics and can be a wonderful way of whiling away a summer afternoon. Remember to visit websites before leaving home to find out if you need to pre-book or if there are any Covid restrictions you need to be aware of.
Arley Hall and Gardens, Cheshire
The home of the Ashbrook family for several generations, Arley Hall boasts some of the finest gardens in Europe. The gardens have been created over the last 250 years by successive generations of the same family. As a result they offer an unusual blend of long history and traditional design with inspired modern ideas and additions including the famous herbaceous border. To find out more, please visit www.arleyhallandgardens.com/the-gardens.
The Dorothy Clive Garden, Cheshire
The Dorothy Clive Garden is a charitable garden trust, set up by Colonel Harry Clive as a place of rest and continued horticultural education for the general public. Located in glorious countryside on the North Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire borders, the garden is both formal and informal, hosting a network of paths that invite the visitor to explore and discover the intimacy and tranquility of the garden. Please visit www.dorothyclivegarden.co.uk to find out more.
Parham House & Gardens, West Sussex
The gardens consist of beautiful pleasure grounds and a four-acre walled garden. There are cut flower beds, herbaceous borders, a glasshouse, vegetable garden, orchard and a 1920s Wendy house. Find out more www.parhaminsussex.co.uk.
Houghton Lodge Gardens, Hampshire
Enjoy a leisurely stroll round these beautiful gardens majestically overlooked by Houghton Lodge, an 18th Century Grade II* listed Gothic Cottage Orné, idyllically set above the tranquil waters of the River Test. There are both formal and informal gardens, a traditional kitchen garden enclosed within chalk cob walls, an orchid house, topiary dragon and peacock garden. Plus, they have cute alpacas! Find out more at www.houghtonlodge.co.uk.
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire
The award winning Sir Harold Hillier Gardens specialises in horticulture, conservation, education and recreation. Outstanding features include the splendour of the seasonal planting displays set in 180 acres. Visit www.hants.gov.uk to find out more.
The Japanese Gardens, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
The Japanese Garden – named “Shãh-rak-uen”, or “a place of pleasure and delight” by its founder Ella Christie – is a unique and utterly authentic bridge between Scottish and Japanese culture. In it are many unique plants and trees, as well as structures with Japanese cultural significance, and there are several walks surrounding the garden as well. To find out more visit www.cowden-garden.com.
Cluny House Gardens, near Perth, Scotland
The garden was created by Bobby and Betty Masterton. When they arrived in the 1950s there were a few trees – conifers, beeches and oak, but more notably two magnificent Wellingtonias, onewith a girth of over 11m. The Mastertons had a particular interest in Himalayan plants which thrive in the Cluny’s perfect conditions. Many of the seeds they grew are now large trees, such as the Tibetan cherry, notable for its mahogany peeling bark. Perennials that flourish here include lilies (including some over 4m high) and Meconopsis (blue poppy). To find out more, visit www.clunyhousegardens.com.
Dingle Nurseries and Garden, Welshpool, Wales
The internationally acclaimed, RHS partner garden at the Dingle is the lifetime work of Barbara and Roy Joseph. The 4.5 acre garden is run by her grandson Duncan and his wife Clare, with the support of the Joseph family and knowledgeable team at the adjoining nursery. Barbara has created a secluded and beautiful area within mid Wales’ rolling hills, which serves to inspire visitors all year round. Visit www.dinglenurseryandgarden.co.uk for details.
Ballyrobert Gardens, County Antrim, N. Ireland
The garden is a Royal Horticultural Society Partner Garden and is open everyday from March to October except on Sundays. The garden is designed to blend into the countryside and contains an extensive collection of labelled plant varieties, over 4000 at last count. To find out more, visit www.ballyrobertgardens.com.
Antony Woodland Garden, Cornwall
Antony Woodland Garden is one of the most beautiful, and least known about, gardens in Cornwall. Just a ferry ride away from Plymouth it is a haven of serenity and peace, and the perfect place for a pleasant walk, a picnic, for children to explore and also for plantsmen (and women) to enjoy the magnificent variety of plants. Find out more at www.antonywoodlandgarden.com.