Our green-fingered heritage is famous throughout the world...
ristine green lawns, serene lakes and roses round the door: the English garden is famous throughout the world. The archetypal ‘English Garden’ has been immortalised in poetry and music for centuries, but as you travel around this green and pleasant land you’ll find some surprisingly varied examples.
Here’s our guide to just a few of hundreds of floral hotspots scattered around England.
Perhaps the most ‘typically English’ are Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s creations – with their expansive lawns, isolated coppices and ubiquitous water features. And a great place to check out his handiwork is Chatsworth House , where visitors have been strolling on the five-and-a-half-acre Salisbury Lawn for centuries (along with the odd resident deer).
“England’s Greatest Gardener” had a hand in designing the landscape of Audley End House , too, but it’s the Organic Kitchen Garden that many visitors come here to see. You’ll find several varieties of pears, plums, peaches and nectarines grown here, which are guaranteed to get your mouth watering.
For something truly special, head to a royal garden, where you can follow in the footsteps of kings and queens. Each summer Buckingham Palace opens its grand walkways to the public, the air scented by 350 types of wild flower. This is normally off-limits – unless you’re among the fortunate few to get invited to one of the Queen’s famous garden parties. Check out the enormous 19th-century lake and tennis court – where King George VI once took on Fred Perry in the 1930s.
Another must-see is the Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park , recognised as the most famous ornamental garden in England. Ironically, however, you’ll find numerous exotic species from all over the planet thriving among its 35 acres.
A less formal affair
Perhaps you prefer something slightly less formal, though? In that case you’ll love the Bide-A-Wee Cottage Gardens in Northumberland. This former sandstone quarry has been lovingly restored back to nature by Mark Robson, who planted rough grasses, perennials and ferns – creating quiet, secluded alcoves where you can escape the modern world.
Bide-A-Wee is open all summer but May is the best time to go if you want to see the meadow in full bloom with yellow buttercups, harebells and fine grasses.
And while you’re in the area, head to Alnwick Garden , a garden for horticulturalists and mischievous kids alike. Even on a warm day, it’s worth taking a raincoat here; one of the main attractions is the Grand Cascade – a tumbling mass of waterfalls that shoots out jets every half hour.
Take a stroll through a twittering oasis at Harewood House . Home to rare and endangered birds from around the world, the Bird Garden is just one of many alluring gardens within the estate. You’ll come across Chilean flamingos, snowy owls, cranes with funny hairdos and everyone’s favourite: penguins! Once you’ve finished doting over their waddling antics, take a look around the Himalayan Garden, blooming with orchids, cobra lilies and blue poppies. All of this is just a few miles from Leeds!
Meanwhile, in a disused clay pit in Cornwall, five massive biomes house plants from around the world. The Eden Project takes visitors on a horticultural journey from the Mediterranean to South America, while the appearance of these iconic, bubbly greenhouses is out of this world.
But England’s gardens are about more than just looking good. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are an important centre for scientific research and conservation, too. Using temperature-controlled greenhouses, experts have created 10 different climates, housing some of its whopping collection of 30,000 plant species. One minute you’re surrounded by banana trees, in the Palm House – the next, you’re looking at saxifrage and ferns in the Davies Alpine House. Even our ‘varied’ weather doesn’t change that quickly.
Admire the magnolias, bluebells and azaleas in spring.Winkworth Arboretum