National Gardening Week is in full swing, with workshops, talks and RHS events taking place all across the UK. But what better way to celebrate than by uncovering some of Britain’s best kept garden secrets? Whether you prefer a traditional cottage garden or a kitchen garden rich in fruit and vegetables, Tania Pascoe, knows the place for you. In the first guidebook of its kind, Wild Garden Weekends, the former Sustainability consultant and passionate gardener recommends almost 400 of the best garden escapes – plus the most enchanting places to stay. We’ve picked out our top 10 that once you’ve entered, you won’t want to leave…
1. Cerney House, Cotswolds
Filled with the heavenly scents of tulips, lilies and lilacs, in these charming walled gardens you’ll see roses tumbling from the arches – and even pigs snuffled in the blossoming orchard. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, you can head to the on-site bothy and tea room, where home-made cakes and tea await.
2. Glendurgan, Cornwall
These misty jungle gardens are bursting with Himalayan rhododendrons, exotic palms – and southern hemisphere mega-trees cultivated in a warm microclimate on the northern banks of the Helford estuary. Whatever the season, there’s guaranteed to be an assortment of gorgeous flowers blooming, whether it’s the stunning camellias in March or the swathes of bluebells and columbines covering the grass in early summer.
3. Hergest, Herefordshire North
For timeless elegance, head to the heart of the Welsh Marches where the
gardens extend over 70s acres, with more than 5000 rare trees and
shrubs. Home of the Banks family, early members were inspired by the
writings of William Robinson, the pioneer of ‘wild gardening’ – and even
today, the planting reflects his influence.
4. Dorney Court Kitchen Garden, Surrey
Myth has it that within Dorney Court’s pretty brick walled garden, 17th-century gardener, John Rose, grew the country’s first pineapple, before presenting it to King Charles II. Although no exotics are grown today, a huge variety of vegetables are, so once you’ve finished exploring the garden, be sure to find your way to the café – and enjoy
5. Knole, Kent
It’s hard to miss the huge herds of deer as you approach this 600-year-old estate through magnificent medieval parkland. Inside, native orchids thrive in meadows alongside miles of mown paths that meander through the trees. Combine that with its calm ponds – and you’ve found an oasis of calm.
6. Pembrokeshire Coastline, South Wales
This breathtaking coastline is Britain’s only coastal national park – and offers the opportunity to see colourful tapestries of spring and summer wild flowers set against the sparkling backdrop of the turquoise sea – which you can dip into for a swim at the Traeth Llyfn beach. Once you’ve explored this stunning spot, head to Shed Bistro in Porthgain for a fresh fish supper.
7. Pitmuies, Scotland
Prepare to feel entranced when greeted by a dazzling explosion of colour in this handsome garden. Hot pink roses are swiftly followed by blue delphiniums, white roseybay, silver echinops, golden rod, pink geraniums and red velvety roses. At the heart of the garden lies incredible ancient trees, a large pond and flower-filled hay meadows – and you can find unusual plants and fruit on sale at the shop too.
8. Scampston Hall, York
Designed by the renowned Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf, it’s easy to while away the hours at Scampton Walled Garden. Open from Easter to October each year, the garden has a unique yet contemporary feel, split into distinct areas, which include a Perennial Meadow, Silent Garden and a Plantsman’s Walk. Hungry after? Head to the glass fronted Garden Restaurant where Scampston estate venison burgers and soups and salads from the kitchen garden are served.
9. Rievaulx Terrace, York
Looking for something dramatic? In summer, bees and butterflies bring this wonderful meadow to life, though you’ll be capitvated all year round as you journey along a glorious, meandering path through verdant woodland dotted with sculpture. At the path’s end, discover the spectacular open terrace high above the fairytale ruin of Rievaulx Abbey below.
10. Dalemain, Cumbria
The sheltered, five-acre gardens surrounding this 14th century manor are blissful. Thousands of snow drops and aconites bloom in spring, while daffodils and roses appear shortly after. Best of all, don’t miss the Silver Fir, which is now the biggest of its type in the British Isles.
Wild Garden Weekends by Tania Pascoe (£16.99) is out now. Wild Things Publishing are offering 25% off, with free UK delivery (£12.75 instead of £16.99). Go to wildthingspublishing.com and enter ‘Wild Garden Weekends’ to receive your discount.
Photographs: © Tania Pascoe and Daniel Start