Gardens to visit
Warmer days provide the chance to get out and about and explore some of Britain’s most beautiful gardens. Here’s a small selection worth a visit:
Benmore Botanic Gardens, Argyll
With its spectacular display of rhododendrons that includes 300 species, 100 subspecies and 300 cultivars, visitors can enjoy a blaze of colour in the spring months with the added bonus of aromatic foliage.
Open until 31 Oct, daily, 10am-6pm (Apr-Sept), 10am-5pm (Oct). Entry: adults £6, children free, concessions £5
Contact 01369 706261, rbge.org.uk/the-gardens/benmore
Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
With stunning views over the Esk Valley, this garden is home to one of Europe’s largest collections of rhododendrons in Europe and they are at their very best in May, but there are also displays of camellias and magnolias to enjoy in their Lakeland landscape.
Open until 2 Nov, daily, 10.30am-5pm. Entry: adult £10, children (5-15 yrs) £6, under 5s free
Contact 01229 717614, muncaster.co.uk
Howick Hall, Northumberland
There’s something for all seasons from formal borders to the Bog Garden but The Woodland Garden is a must-see in spring with rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias planted alongside old varieties of daffodils, which flower until May, and fritillaries, as well as scillas and erythroniums.
Open until 14 Nov, daily, 12 noon-6pm (4pm after 1 Oct). Entry: adults £7.70, children free, concessions £6.60
Contact 01665 577285, howickhallgardens.org.uk
Annesley Gardens, Co Down
The 12-acre walled garden, set in beautiful surroundings and dating back to 1740 is not only famous for its rhododendrons, but also has some of the oldest and tallest trees in the British Isles.
Open 10am-dusk, daily, year round. Entry: £4.20 per car
Contact 028 4377 8664, forestserviceni.gov.uk
Dorfold Hall, Cheshire
Surrounding the Jacobean country house the hall’s 18 acres of gardens reflect 400 years of gardening fashions. Herbaceous borders are packed with colourful planting through spring and summer and there’s a woodland and rock garden including magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons.
Open until 31 Oct, Tues, 2pm-5pm. Entry: adults £7, children £3
Contact 01270 625245
Felley Priory, Nottinghamshire
Masses of bulbs, including tulips, daffodils and snake’s head fritillaries are among the attractions for spring. The herbaceous borders are the highlight of the summer months and rose lovers will delight in the huge array in the walled rose garden. There are bluebell walks in the woods until 2 May.
Open all year, Tue-Fri, 9am-4pm. The 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month until 5 Oct, 10am-4pm. Entry: adults £4, children free
Contact 01773 810230, www.felleypriory.co.uk
Batsford Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Almost 100 magnolia cultivars and a stunning collection of Japanese cherry trees, which continue well into May, are underplanted with drifts of early spring bulbs and, in late spring, cowslips, primroses and wild garlic.
Open daily 10am-6pm. Entry: adults £7, children (4-15 yrs) £3, concessions £6
Contact 01386 701441, batsarb.co.uk
Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Make the most of the views of displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and drifts of celandines, wood violets and wild garlic from one of the self-guided woodland trails.
Open year-round, Mon-Fri, 9am-dusk; Sat & Sun, 9am-8pm. Entry: adults £8 (until Aug), £9 (Sept-Nov), £5 (Dec-Feb 2015), children from £2, concessions from £4
Contact 01666 880220; forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt
Plas Newydd, Gwynedd
Set in a Humphrey Repton landscape overlooking the Menai Straits, this magnificent collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias creates a spectacular sight. Take a stroll along Lady Uxbridge’s walk to fully appreciate the carpets of spring colour from bluebells and anemones.
Open until 5 Nov, Sat-Thur, 10.30am-5.30pm. Entry: adults £7.35, children £3.70
Contact 01248 714795; nationaltrust.org.uk
Coleton Fishacre, Devon
The 24-acre woodland garden is planted with masses of azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias that cascade down a valley towards the sea. Its proximity to the Gulf Stream in this part of Devon ensures visitors can also enjoy the rare and exotic plants that thrive in the microclimate.
Open until 3 Nov, Sat-Tues, 10.30am-5pm. Entry: adults £6.60, children £3.30
Contact 01803 842382; nationaltrust.org.uk
Caerhays Castle, Cornwall
This 120-acre woodland garden can date its origins back to the great plant hunters Ernest Wilson and George Forrest and is best known for its National Collection of magnolia but it is also home to the famous Camellia x williamsii as well as many hybrid rhododendrons.
Open until 15 Jun, daily, 10am-5pm. Entry: adults £80, children (under 16) £4, under 5s free
Contact 01872 501310, caerhays.co.uk
Hergest Croft Gardens, Herefordshire
This woodland garden and arboretum contains one of the best collections of rhododendrons in Britain as well more than 5,000 rare trees and shrubs, including the tallest katsura tree in Britain. The garden includes six distinct areas – Hergest Croft Garden, the Azalea Garden, the Maple Grove, the Kitchen Garden, the Park and Park Wood.
Open until 2 Nov, daily, 12 noon-5.30pm. Entry: adults £6, children under 16 free
Contact 01544 230160, hergest.co.uk
Exbury Gardens, Hampshire
Crammed with exotic plants from all over the world, there are a million rhododendrons in the 200-acre woodland as well as camellias and magnolias. Early spring also brings flowering cherries and carpets of daffodils.
Open until 2 Nov, daily, 10am-5.30pm. Entry: adults £10, children 3-15 yrs £2.50, under 3s free
Contact 02380 891203, exbury.co.uk
Hever Castle, Kent
The gardens of this 14th-century moated castle burst into spring colour with crocuses, daffodils, tulips and bluebells. Camellias are trained against the walls of the spectacular Italian Garden and the park of oak trees is underplanted with rhododendrons.
Open 2 Nov, daily, 10.30am-6pm. Entry: adults £13, children (5-15 yrs) £8.20
Contact 01732 865224, hevercastle.co.uk
Nymans, West Sussex
This 20th-century garden is famed for its collection of rare and important plants. In spring camellias and magnolia cultivars, including M. x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’, which was bred at Nymans, are underplanted with drifts of daffodils and grape hyacinths.
Open year, daily Except 25-26 Dec), 10am-5pm (4pm winter). Entry: adults £10.50, children £5.50
Contact 01444 400321, nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
Take the meandering paths through the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society on Battleston Hill to see the magnolias, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. In spring take time out for the alpine meadow where a dazzling display of hoop-petticoat narcissus will be in full bloom.
Open year-round, daily (except Dec 25), 10am-6pm (9am weekends and Bank Hols). Entry: adults: £8, children (6-16 yrs) £2
Contact 0845 260 9000, www.rhs.org.uk
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire
In 180 acres there are some 42,000 plants, among them spring-flowering camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas with early-flowering and Japanese cherries.
Open year-round, daily (except 25-26 Dec), 10am-5pm (10am-6pm in summer). Entry: adults £8.25, children free, concessions £7.15
Contact 01794 368787, hilliergardens.org.uk