After the severe winter we’ve had, you’re probably looking forward to the first signs of spring. What better place to enjoy them than in one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens?
Before you decide which ones to visit, let’s have a quick look at what there is to see and do:
Wisley brims with its renowned plant collections and there are plenty of attractions too, from The Glasshouse, a cathedral-like structure housing a world-class tender plant collection (look out for the orchids in late April/ May) to the contemporary Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden, rich with Camassias and Alliums during spring.
Apart from simply admiring the gardens, you might also take part in the Spring Craft Fair (3-5 May); the Photography Masterclass (11 May); or try your hand at willow weaving (4 June) – check the website as there’s plenty to do all year round.
Great Torrington, Devon
Wander along Rosemoor’s wooded pathway beside the rushing stream and landscaped boulders, then through the Woodland Garden to a magnificent collection of shrubs and trees. The Fruit and Vegetable Garden shows how best to cultivate your plot whilst the romantic Cottage Garden with its brick pathways and packed flowerbeds is the perfect haven to take a rest.
Up-coming May activities include the Spring Design for Living Fair (5-7 May); a photographers’ close-ups workshop (8 May); and even the chance to learn how to build a bespoke wood-fired pizza oven for your garden (17 May).
Beautiful Hyde Hall sits amid rolling hills with panoramic views over the Chelmsford countryside. Its Dry Garden showcases drought-tolerant plants while the contemporary designs, boggy and woodland landscapes of the Robinson and Woodland Gardens form part of what was originally planted in 1955 by the Robinson family, its first owners. Look out for the rare species of Rhododendron, Camellia, Magnolia and Pieris, as well as the resident family of brown hares!
Guided walk Nature Awakes (6 May) offers the opportunity to witness the natural world at daybreak with wildlife experts from Essex Wildlife; alternatively, pre-schoolers can enjoy Little Acorns, Hyde Hall’s gardening and craft club which encourages them to explore the wonders of nature (2 May).
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Wander through Harlow Carr with its 68 acres of fantastic variety, including a verdant valley, running streams, lakes, woodlands and wild meadows. The brand-new hedgehog-friendly garden is a popular attraction, designed to preserve these endangered creatures. Harlow also hosts the longest streamside garden in the country, as well as an inspiring Kitchen Garden which is sure to have you growing your own if you aren’t already.
You can share your passion for plants at National Gardening Week (30 Apr – 6 May), or view the hugely popular Spring Plant Heritage Plant Fair with its RHS-judged Tulip, Daffodil and Rhododendron Shows (5-6 May).
Salford, Greater Manchester
One for your diary in 2019, Bridgewater is one of the biggest gardening projects currently under construction in Europe. The 154-acre gardens at Bridgewater are the RHS’s only new garden to be created in the last 17 years. The initial phase has included the restoration of the Walled Kitchen Garden – at 11-acres one of the largest in the UK. The project is careful to make sensitive restorations to existing buildings while adding interesting architectural concepts from award-winning local architects.