The United Kingdom boasts thousands of botanical, estate, and even backyard gardens worth visiting. Limiting the number to visit to just a few is difficult beyond belief. My pick are given below, but there may be others on your wish list, and they too are probably well worthy of a visit. The UK truly is a garden-lovers paradise.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
In St. Austell, Cornwall, are The Lost Gardens of Heligan which belonged to the Tremayne family for 400 years. The gardens became overgrown until a group of gardening enthusiasts chose them for restoration. Heligan has become famous for huge camellias and rhododendrons, scenic lakes and a section full of ancient ferns. Another section forms the last area in Europe where pineapples are grown. Decaying manure warms the pit providing the proper growing conditions for the exotic, unexpected fruit.
Howick Hall Gardens
Alnwick, Northumberland, home of the 19th-century speciality tea connoisseur and British Prime Minister Earl Grey, provides the rocky setting for Howick Hall on Northumberlands coast. The Howick Hall Gardens are separated into selected areas: Silverwood – a beautiful woodland garden, a rockery, and a bog garden with many plants from China. Snowdrops bloom in March, while the hydrangeas are most beautiful in September. An excellent arboretum covering 65 acres is filled with shrubs and 11,000 trees from every corner of the world.
Stowe Landscape Gardens
In Buckinghamshire, lovers of classically designed gardens find the one everyone ought to visit – Stowe Landscape Gardens. Capability Brown included ornamental lakes peeking through wooded valleys and affording awe inspiring views. Stowe Gardens are huge, with miles of walking trails. Wandering through the gardens allows the viewer to best appreciate them.
Bodnant Garden, in Clwyd, Wales, looks down on the River Conwy and over the valley to the Snowdonia Mountains. This North Wales garden provides 80 acres of stunning views. There are upper and lower gardens, concentrating on plants from China, but displaying plants from nearly everywhere as long as they are best suited to Welsh weather and soils.
Bodnants terraces have herbaceous borders, water lilies and roses. Bodnant is home to the national collection of eucryphias which bloom resplendently in August and September.
Logan Botanic Garden
The warm Gulf Stream on the southwest tip of Scotland, at Stranraer, causes the most exotic, weird and wonderful plants from far afield to grow in Logan Botanic Garden. Exotic scents and vivid colours are part of the plant varieties from New Zealand along with trees very unlikely for Scotland, including unusual conifers and eucalyptus.
With cabbage palm and ferns waving in every breeze during the summer and Australian winter-flowering shrubs it is difficult to remember the garden is in Scotland.
Mount Stewart House Garden
The brooding Stangford Lough shore, outside Newtownards in County Down, Northern Ireland is home to Mount Stewart House Garden. The Marchioness of Londonderry changed the boring lawns into a shamrock garden, sunken garden, and expanded the lake, adding Italian and Spanish gardens. When she had finished the lavish improvements the gardens were considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Joining a Garden Tour of the UK
Sisley Garden Tours provide group garden tours including the Scottish highlands, Englands Lake District, the West Country: Dorset and Wiltshire, the Home Counties, north and central Wales and the Border Counties, and both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Award-winning Kensington Guided Tours offer private garden tours worldwide. They customise an itinerary to their clients exacting needs. English speaking local guides personalise tours which cost 20-30% less.
When planning your overseas holiday it is advisable to purchase travel insurance so you have piece of mind in the event something goes wrong. If driving, also enquire about car insurance with your insurer or that of the car rental company.