Touring the UK's most spectacular gardens
The opportunity to tour around the best of British gardens is a real treat and provides a perfect short break or longer holiday, depending on how many UK locations you wish to visit. Both city gardens and those deep in the countryside have their attractions, with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London perhaps the best known among keen gardeners, heritage experts and botanists.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London
Kew has the world’s largest collection of living plants – more than 30,000 different species are held here. Amidst the stunning landscape there are six wonderful glasshouses full of tropical plants, and the well-stocked library has a huge collection of photos and maps, along with books. There are fun parts of the gardens to be enjoyed by children and young people, including the Treetop Walkway, while the Orangery serves delicious meals and snacks. Kew is a world heritage site and at 250 acres it is so large it is best viewed over a few days, with accommodation easily available at one of the many excellent London hotels in the area.
Bodnant Garden, North Wales
Bodnant Garden is in an enviable location overlooking the River Conwy, with views across the valley to the Snowdonia National Park. Created on two levels with five terraces, the upper garden at Bodnant has informal and formal lawns and an impressive colourful display in spring, when it is full of bright blooms. The lower wild garden features the Old Mill and a pond. Two fabulous attractions are the Pin Mill, dating from the 18th century, and the impressive 180 feet high Laburnum Arch which produces a splendid display when in full bloom in early summer.
Attadale Gardens, Scotland
With sculptures, waterfalls and Monet bridges, Attadale Gardens comprises 20 acres of fine landscape in the spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands. Themed gardens here include the beautiful Sunken Garden, the charming Japanese Garden and even a Kitchen Garden where fruit and vegetables are grown. Famous for its rhododendrons, some of which are reputed to be more than 100 years old, Attadale has glorious colour all year round and its water gardens are magnificent.
Mount Stewart Garden, Northern Ireland
A National Trust property, Mount Stewart Garden has an unusual, structural quality, so that it seems as though the greenery has been designed as an artwork in its own right. As well as informal areas, there are formal gardens with statues and stone carvings of animals. The Spanish Garden boasts topiary arches, while the formal Italian Garden has a Mediterranean flavour. There are lots of events here aimed at young people, including summer walks to explore the garden’s secret corners, events in the spooky Hallowe’en Garden and riotous Easter egg hunts.
Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly
A very special sub-tropical environment on the delightful Isles of Scilly means that the 17 acres of the superb Tresco Abbey Gardens benefit from a mild climate in winter and plenty of sunshine in summer. The seasons are enjoyed by thousands of exotic plants brought from all parts of the globe. Alongside the ruined walls and arches of a mediaeval monastery that can be found here, is the collection of figureheads from shipwrecks – a unique treasure known as Valhalla.
This is just a small selection of gardens to visit in the UK. There are so many others that it is impossible to list them all. Here are a few more:
- Alnwick Castle Gardens, Northumberland
- Armadale Castle, Isle of Skye
- Hampton Court, Surrey
- Harewood, Yorkshire
- Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
- Sissinghurst, Kent
- Wakehurst Place, Sussex
- Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire