Britain’s Top 5 Gardens

garden

The welcome transition from the dormant winter months into spring heralds the onset of a profusion of colour and tranquility across Britain’s beautiful public gardens. After a particularly long and seemingly never ending winter we are more than ready for warmer days spent relaxing in and amongst some of the finest gardens in Europe. In Britain we have a fascination bordering on the obsessive for all things horticultural and we are blessed with an exquisite variety of flora and fauna in our gardens protected by a unique range of micro-climates across the country. Leisurely spring afternoon’s absorbing the essential beauty of nature is an idyllic accompaniment to any cottage holiday. Let’s take a look at a few of our favourite British public gardens.

5. Trebah Gardens, Helford, Cornwall

The sub tropical climate enjoyed by the Helford estuary in south Cornwall has helped form a stunning hillside garden harbouring a special collection of rare plants, trees and shrubs, many of which are from far flung corners of the planet. The gentle climate in this part of the world provides a unique opportunity to view exotic flora that would struggle to survive elsewhere in Britain. The result is a stunningly vibrant garden, framed by the gorgeous Helford estuary, creating a vista that transfixes the senses. Open all year and extending across 26 acres with 4 miles of footpaths traversing themed gardens, Trebah has a special quality that fascinates throughout the seasons.  Leafy palms, camellias and magnolias await inquisitive guests and with delightful ponds Trebah have echoes of Giverny within a tranquil landscape that offers a haven of peace. With vibrant Falmouth just a short distance to the north, and the Lizard peninsula within easy striking distance to the south, Trebah sits proudly in a treasured corner of Cornwall.

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4. Chatsworth House Gardens, Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Britain is home to a fine array of stately homes, perhaps none more imposing than  Chatsworth House which is  set against the  backdrop of the English Peak District. This magnificent estate is home to the Duke of Derbyshire and is open year round to visitors and is set in the heart of the Peak District within easy reach of Bakewell, Tideswell and the historic Eyam. The style and elegance of the house is mirrored in the 105 acres of gardens that offer a variety of interesting sculptures, fountains and of course the ubiquitous English garden maze. Perhaps the most striking feature of this impressive stately garden is the cascading trough waterfall situated to the western flank of the house. Built for the 4th Duke of Derbyshire this popular water feature stands 200 feet tall with 24 steps drawing water down in a mesmerising flow that never ceases to fascinate children and adults alike. If you are feeling energetic the view from the top of the waterfall is unforgettable, with the stately home enveloped by the surrounding parkland and the stunning expanse of Derbyshire countryside beyond.

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3. Inverewe Gardens, Inverewe, Scotland

The benevolent Gulf Stream on the unforgettable northwest Scottish coast in Wester Ross helps create one of the most impressive botanical gardens in Britain. This is truly a wonderful place set amidst a carefully managed estate extending across 2000 acres alongside the rugged hills and sweeping Atlantic coastline. The fertile soil and favourable micro climate helps sustain a wide range of exotic plants that would normally be found in more temperate latitudes on the planet. The result is a vivid variety of colour that endures throughout the year. Whether it be Tasmanian eucalypts, blue poppies from the Himalayas or Chinese rhododendrons, Inverewe gardens are home to a delightful collection of flora and fauna from throughout the world. Owned by the Scottish National Trust and overlooking Loch Ewe this stunning botanical garden is one if the most popular attraction in the Scottish Highlands. The distinctive scenery of Wester Ross is some of Scotland’s most stunning countryside with the essence of a wilderness barely touched by the 21st century. Perhaps surprisingly this coastline is home to some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the country, with stunning white sand and crystal blue water bejeweling the ancient sea lochs as they extend north towards Ullapool and Sutherland beyond.

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2. Powis Castle, Welshpool, Wales

With a medieval backdrop in the rolling border countryside, Powis Castle gardens are renowned across the world. Just a short distance from Welshpool, these formal gardens have been nurtured and evolved over the past 400 years. Created in the Baroque style of classical Italian gardens with more than a touch of French spirit, the grand terraces at Powis castle (originally built in the 1680s) are an evocative throwback to continental gardens during the 16th century and enjoy a sweeping view across the immaculate Great Lawn. With a wide selection of carefully selected colourful plants to complement the Mediterranean theme, the terraces are probably the best example of 17th century gardens left in the country. Preserved for the nation by the National Trust, Powis Castle gardens are open all year with the surrounding parkland home to wide variety of wildlife including rare red kites, woodpeckers and a large number of deer. The surrounding woodland offers a number of different walks whilst the castle itself offers a fascinating trail designed for children who will be left captivated by the sense of adventure exploring the medieval fortress surroundings.

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1. Drummond Castle Gardens, Crieff, Perthshire

Drummond Castle is home to one of the most stunning formal gardens in the country, if not in Europe. Situated 2 miles to the south of Crieff in Perthshire, these large and beautifully manicured gardens are open to the public from the beginning of May until the end of October. With a history dating back to 1490, the gardens at Drummond Castle really began to flourish during the 17th century evolving throughout the centuries to produce a striking and enchanting landscape that has been immaculately tended by some of Scotland’s finest gardeners. The careful attention to detail creates a symmetry which is simply breathtaking and with the backdrop of the castle, there is a truly timeless quality which entices visitors into a world gone by. With the haunting cries of peacocks, secret gardens and elegant pathways there is majesty reminiscent of Versailles, indeed the French influence is all pervading in what is the historic heartland of Scotland. The castle itself is swathed in the history of the Jacobite rebellion, strange to think that such beauty should evolve out of violent turmoil but the gardens are testament to a vision that doubtless will be enjoyed for centuries to come.

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