A springtime stroll through a beautiful garden can be fun for the family, make a romantic date, or offer some tranquillity if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle. But for those who want more than rambling past roots and shoots and revelling at rose beds, here’s our round up of hidden garden gems in the UK. From dining in one of the world’s biggest tree houses to learning about fragrances in a perfume amphitheatre, there’s something for everyone…
Chelsea Physic Garden
The luscious botanical delights at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London aren’t only beautiful to behold, they also offer a bounty of remedies that are used in modern medical practice. The garden was originally known as Apothecaries’ Garden and was founded in 1673. Today visitors can learn about which plants led to the development of aspirin and local aesthetic in the Pharmaceutical Garden, and gain inspiration for home gardens in The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants. Did you know that burdock leaves are the inspiration for Velcro, or that flax plant is tough enough to be used as armour? These are the amazing facts you can learn in this riveting section of the Chelsea Physic Garden, which houses a compact vineyard, heritage vegetable bed and an unusual fruit bed. But our favourite feature has to be the perfumery amphitheatre where you can learn about fragrances.
Cost: £9 for adults and senior citizens, £6 for students, unemployed people and children (5-15 years old)
For further details visit: www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
Photo by Charlie Hopkinson.
Do you love the idea of dining in one of the world’s biggest tree houses? Or witnessing the magnificent Grand Cascade water feature tumble 7260 gallons of H20 down a series of 21 weirs? Or discovering myths, legends and fascinating facts about deadly plants in the Poison Garden? At Alnwick Garden in Northumberland you can do all this – plus get lost in a bamboo labyrinth and see a staggering 3,000 David Austin Roses.
Ten years ago the Duchess of Northumberland began renovating the derelict and forgotten site, and now it’s one of the most enchanting gardens in the UK. As well as learning about plants, flowers and vegetables at the Roots and Shoots Garden, adults and children can be educated on how to cook them as part of Jamie Olivier’s Ministry of Food programme. Just don’t get any ideas about cooking with belladonna (aka deadly nightshade)!
Cost: Adults £12, children (5-16 years old) £4, concessions (students and aged 60+) £10.80
For further details visit: www.alnwickgarden.com
The Secret Gardens of Sandwich
Hidden away from public view for almost a quarter of a century, The Secret Gardens of Sandwich in Kent were in such a state of unruliness that they were almost lost forever. But in 2004 an ambitious restoration project began, and now the gardens are back to their former green glory of 1911. Surrounded by an old stone city wall, The Secret Gardens of Sandwich offer a tranquil escape into nature.
If you want a proper getaway you can even book luxury accommodation at the manor house in the grounds. Spanning 3.5 acres, the show-stopping sights include the rare plant the Wollemi Pine – dating back to the Jurassic period – and the beautiful island Lake Patricia, which can be reached by a small bridge. Cream teas are aplenty at the Salutation Tea Room. A must-see event is the Sandwich Dahlia Festival (September 7-15), which celebrates the 76 varieties of the plant in seasonal bloom.
Cost: Adults £6.50, children (under 16) £3, children (under 6) free, Senior Citizens £6
For further details visit: www.the-secretgardens.co.uk