Summer is upon us once again, and nature lovers are already flocking to England’s wonderful collection of public gardens for long days spent strolling between the blooms. Public gardens – from the historic to the scientific – are among the nation’s greatest shared treasures. And presented here are some of the best to get lost in while the sun’s still shining.
Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew, London)
Quite possibly the most famous garden in the world, Kew hosts 300 acres and 50,000 types of plants only a short train ride from the capital. And, as incredible as the floral spectacle may be, there’s much more to see and do – it’s a genuine family day out.
Indeed, brand new for 2019 is the Children’s Garden – here, they can enter through a living bamboo tunnel, scan the foliage with a periscope, explore winding trails and skip over the stepping stones of a splash pool.
Among the many other attractions for young and old are wildly-contrasting habitats such as the Rock Garden, the Mediterranean Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Kitchen Gardens. A towering installation mimics the life of a hive, while the Tropical Nursery allows you to get as close as you dare to their carnivorous plants. And along the way, remember to keep one eye open for the 23 species of butterfly that call the garden home.
Belsay Hall Quarry Gardens (Northumberland)
Belsay represents the grand old traditional country house gardens that were once the preserve of the aristocracy, but now are open to all. And it’s also a reminder of just how unusual some of these private gardens can be – many of them were built to a singular vision.
In this case, the unique element at the heart of the 30-acre landscape is the Sir Charles Monck’s Quarry Garden. Here, ravines have been carved from the rock in remembrance of its creator’s travels, and this means many exotic plants grow here that you won’t find anywhere else in the region.
Elsewhere in the grounds, there’s the small matter of a medieval castle and a Grand Grecian Hall (made with the rock quarried for the garden), as well as a Victorian Tearoom for flagging explorers.
Blenheim Palace (Oxfordshire)
Perhaps the single greatest triumph of England’s most-celebrated landscape artist, ‘Capability’ Brown, the sheer scale of these gardens – at 2000 acres – is just the beginning of its wonders.
From the serenity of the Water Terraces to the intimacy of the Secret Garden, the array of landscapes to wander through is a constant pleasure. And hop on the miniature train to the Pleasure Garden for kid-friendly fun like the Marlborough Maze and the Butterfly House.
Arundel Castle and Gardens (West Sussex)
Open to visitors since the mid-19th Century, the castle’s collection of walled gardens include the Collector Earl’s Garden and a Cut Flower Garden. There’s also a peach house and vinery as well as an old fashioned rose garden.
Most importantly, though, Arundel is part of a growing movement to incorporate organic principles into everyday gardening. A recent study suggests that 71.4% of shoppers consider the environmental impact of the food they buy, and buying produce untreated with pesticides is one simple way to make a positive difference – Arundel’s Kitchen Garden is proud to offer such fruit, veg and flowers to visitors.