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7 of the best UK gardens to see this spring

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Best UK gardens to visit in spring

7 of the best UK gardens to see this spring

Find out where to see the best spring blooms and get discounts on some of the entry fees if you’re a Boundless member

1. Best traditional Victorian gardens

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Doncaster

A beautifully renovated Victorian garden, this collection of ‘grand gardens in miniature’ is a sight to behold, whether you visit in early or late spring. 

The garden team has created plenty of seasonal interest, starting in March with a sea of daffodils in dozens of varieties, as well as an array of other spring bulbs filling the flower beds with colour and scent. 

Sweet-smelling bluebells and aconites carpet the woodland floor in April, while the Fern Dell boasts a mix of camassias, geraniums and magenta cyclamen. See thousands of bedding plants and spring bulbs, including tulips, hyacinths and muscari, put on a spectacular show from March to May in the flower garden.

How to get there 

Take A635 from A1 J37 and follow brown tourist signs

Opening times 

Weekends only to 1 April, then open daily, 10am-5.30pm

Price 

Free to members or around £11.30 adult/£6.80 child (from 30 March, other prices available) 

Boundless members receive a discount on English Heritage membership.

 


2. Best organic kitchen gardens 

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Audley End House and Gardens 

Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

Blossoms galore herald the arrival of spring in these organic kitchen gardens. Starting with pink peach blossom, apple and pear continues the show from March to May. 

The team also plants an annual spring bulb display in the parterre featuring a staggering 12,245 tulips this year, including heritage varieties in keeping with original planting plans, such as ‘Couleur Cardinal’ (introduced c1845), ‘Peach Blossom’ (c1890) and ‘Greuze’ (c1891). 

Over 7,000 daffodil bulbs are planted too, and as the gardens are productive you can see plenty of vegetable sowing and planting, with heritage varieties that were grown and used in the 1800s.

How to get there 

1 mile west of Saffron Walden on B1383 (M11 J8 or J10)

Opening times 

Gardens open Wednesday to Sunday from 19 February, 10am-4pm. Check online for opening times from April

Price 

Free to English Heritage members/£18.10 adult/£10.90 child 

Boundless members receive a discount on English Heritage membership.

 


3. Best for spring blooms 

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Doddington Hall and Gardens

Doddington Place Gardens, Kent

Set in ten acres in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, these landscaped gardens include a woodland with a collection of rhododendron and azalea, thanks to a rare pocket of acid soil. The display is at its best in late spring, bursting into a mass of pink and purple flowers. There’s also an Edwardian rock garden, rare Asian trees and a giant mound of cumulus cloud-like yews. The gardens have been open in aid of the National Garden Scheme for over 50 years.

How to get there 

10 minutes from A20 and A2 

Opening times 

Open until 30 September, Wednesday and Sunday, 11am-5pm. Also bank holidays and for the National Garden Scheme – see website for details.

Price 

£7 adult/£2 child (other prices available – see website)

 


4. Repton’s finest

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Woburn Abbey and Gardens 

Woburn Abbey and Gardens, Bedfordshire

This year marks the bicentennial celebration of one of our most famous landscape gardeners, Humphry Repton, who died 200 years ago – and Woburn Abbey and Gardens features the greatest number of realised Repton plans in the UK. 

His designs included a lake, an American garden, the Folly, the Cone House and a menagerie among many other ideas. One of the most eye-catching is the Rockery and Pavilion. In 2009, the gardens team began restoring the Rockery, and in 2011 the Pavilion was built, faithfully recreating Repton’s original illustration. 

New for 2018 is an exhibition in the Abbey – ‘Humphry Repton: Art & Nature for the Duke of Bedford’ – which will include Repton’s ‘Red Book’ for Woburn, beautifully illustrating his design process. 

Although it’s not a Repton feature, the Camellia House is a spring highlight, as the camellias burst into colour at this time of year. 

Its centre beds have been restored with species collected for the 5th and 6th Dukes of Bedford by plant collectors such as Sir Joseph Hooker, William Banks and John Bartram.

How to get there 

10 minutes from the M1, J12 or J13

Opening times 

Gardens open Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10am-4pm until 22 March; from 23 March-29 October the abbey opens daily 11am-5pm (last entry 4pm) and the gardens open daily 10am-6pm 

Price 

£7.50 adult/£4.75 child for gardens and deer park only (other prices available)

 


5. The best gardens for being an all-round crowd pleaser

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Cragside 

Cragside, Northumberland

Voted one of Britain’s favourite gardens in 2016, Cragside combines a pinetum, one of Europe’s largest rockeries, a formal garden and more. 

A magnificent maze has been cut into a huge rhododendron forest, which at this time of year will be a blaze of colour. This quirky labyrinth is great fun for kids of all ages. 

The gardens also boast a fernery that will be waking up from its winter slumber with an array of unfurling fronds. There are lots of impressive tree specimens as well – and the formal garden, laid out over three terraces, has breathtaking views of the Northumberland countryside. 

How to get there 

On B6341, 15 miles northwest of Morpeth via A697

Opening times 

Gardens open every day 10am-4.00pm until 29 October when closed Mondays

Price

£13 adult/£6.50 child, gardens and woodland only (other prices available) 

 


6. The best secret garden

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Antony Woodland Garden

Antony Woodland Garden, Cornwall

Hidden away in the Cornish countryside, this impressive garden runs along the pretty Lynher Estuary and is a plant-lover’s paradise. 

Home to a staggering 600 varieties of camellia, it is one of just five International Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the UK. 

From rare species such as Camellia saluenensis, originally introduced by the Victorian plant hunter George Forrest, to Camellia reticulata, which is enjoying something of a renaissance thanks to its bold red blooms, you’ll be inspired to find one to grow at home. 

How to get there 

Cross the Tamar Bridge (A38) from Plymouth and take the A374, or use the Torpoint Ferry

Opening times 

11am-5pm 1 March until 31 October, except Monday and Friday

Price 

£6 adults/under-16s free 

 


7. Best gardens for seeing cherry blossom

Best UK gardens to visit in Spring: Batsford Arboretum 

Batsford Arboretum, Gloucestershire

The UK’s national collection of Japanese cherry trees guarantees a spectacle at this time of year with acres of pink blossom. 

Call for a blossom update on 01386 701441 or check the website to find out when the trees are in full bloom. 

Home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs, a variety of magnolias put on a spectacular seasonal display, as does the Davidia (or pocket handkerchief) tree and much more.

How to get there 

On A44 to Bourton-on-the-Hill, a mile and a half west of Moreton-in-Marsh

Opening times 

All year, daily 9am-5pm (10am-5pm on Sunday and bank holidays)

Price 

£7.95 adult/£3.50 child/under-fours free (other prices available) 

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