Our Top Ten Garden Picks for 2017
Our garden picks for 2017 have been inspired by the incredible people behind our most beautiful gardens across Britain. We have chosen ten gardens created by some of the most influential garden designers through time, from as early at the 1690’s right up to the present day. On our tours we meet many of the garden owners who give a wonderful insight into their own garden achievements, and sometimes failures! Please join us to discover the best gardens across Britain.
1. David Austin Rose Garden, Albrighton, Shropshire
Located on a farm near Wolverhampton, David Austin’s Rose Garden is veritable feast for the senses in June & July with over 700 varieties roses in just over 2 acres. From a hobby breeder as a young teenager in the early 1950’s, David Austin has gone on to breed a collection of roses renowned across the world. Awards given to him include: Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society; the Dean Hole Medal from the Royal National Rose Society; an OBE in 2007; 2010, he was named a “Great Rosarian of the World”
2. Barnsley House, Barnsley, Gloucestershire
World-famous gardener, Rosemary Verey, began redesigning Barnsley House’s gardens in the late 1950s, transforming it to a layout that attracts visitors from around the globe. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, a younger generation of country gardeners came to Barnsley House to learn from Rosemary’s horticultural skills, in particular, her ability to recreate grand garden designs and features on a domestic scale. She was awarded an OBE in 1997 and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour in 1999.
3. Scampston Walled Garden, Malton, North Yorkshire
The walled garden at Scampston Hall had been derelict for nearly fifty years when, with enthusiasm and vision, Sir Charles and Lady Legard undertook the huge renovation task. They enlisted the help of leading garden designer, Piet Oudolf – leading figure in the ‘New perennial movement’. Although Oudolf’s planting ideas are now much imitated, Scampston Walled Garden gives the opportunity to see an outstanding example of the way in which he combines his skills as a designer with his authority and knowledge as a plantsman.
4. Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Dumfriesshire
Charles Jencks and his late wife, Maggie Keswick, conceived this unique garden in 1989 and have since created forty major areas, gardens, bridges, landforms, sculptures, terraces, fences & architectural works. Covering thirty acres, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation uses nature to celebrate nature, both intellectually and through the senses. This space is unlike anywhere else.
5. Parceval Hall, Appletreewick, North Yorkshire
In the heart of the windswept Yorkshire Dales you’ll find a garden that surrounds an ecclesiastical retreat. It was the creation of Sir William Milner in the 1920’s – a gentle giant at 6ft7’’ tall and almost reclusive. He was an architect, plantsman and designer and went on to be a founder member of Harlow Carr, the northern home of the Royal Horticultural Society. Heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, Parcevall Hall uses the naturally occurring limestone pavement in its rockery garden, one of the best in Europe.
6. Levens Hall, nr Kendal, Cumbria
The oldest surviving garden in England, Levens Hall has had just ten Head Gardeners since it was laid out in 1694 by Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, one time gardener to James II. The topiary, at the time was object of admiration and amazement, and continues to be so today. It is carefully tended and curated by Head Gardener Chris Crowder, one of the UK’s leading topiary experts who spends five months a year with his team clipping and shaping the topiary and hedges. The topiary is underplanted with over thirty thousand flowers.
7. The Laskett, Much Birch, Herefordshire
In 1973 the recently married historian Roy Strong and designer Julia Trevelyan Oman purchased The Laskett, an early Victorian house set in the corner of a four acre triangle of land. Garden fever seized them early on they set out to make the stunning series of garden rooms. It is a garden inspired by the great gardens of the pre-1914 era, by Italian gardens and by those of Tudor and Stuart England. It is full of classical references and statuary, and uniquely, it tells the story of the owners – their marriage and their creative lives in the arts.
8. Sissinghurst Castle, Nr Cranbrook, Kent
“Profusion, even extravagance and exuberance within the confines of the utmost linear severity” are Vita Sackville-West’s own words to describe what has become one of the most internationally famous gardens of the last century. In 1930, Harold Nicolson (diplomat and author) and his wife (poet, novelist, garden columnist) bravely and ambitiously bought the badly deteriorated Sissinghurst Castle. He was the meticulous designer and she, the plantsman. He was strictly classical in taste, she poetical and romantic. The result is a most beautiful garden of strict formal design and joyously abundant planting.
9. Hidcote, near Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire
The ‘quiet American’ created the most English of English gardens in the Cotswolds from 1907 until his death in 1948. The garden passed to the National Trust, it was the first property to be taken over by the National Trust on the strength of the garden alone. Johnson, who left behind an army career to pursue his love of plants and garden design, created a series of ‘garden rooms’. Hidcote has become one of England’s most influential 20th-century gardens.
10. Highgrove, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire
The Duchy of Cornwall acquired the house in 1980 and since then H.R.H The Prince of Wales has devoted much energy to transforming the gardens around the house. With the help and advice of notable individuals and the dedicated assistance of the garden staff, what was once a somewhat bleak landscape is now one of the most creatively inspired gardens of today. A series of interlinked areas, each with their own character and purpose, weave magically around the garden, with the house always visible in the distance. The Prince has always followed strictly organic principles in the garden, a notion well-ahead of its time when the gardens were created some 35 years ago.