Gardens of inspiration to explore this summer

After months in lockdown, we’re excited to get outdoors and explore the grounds and gardens that are reopening after being closed throughout spring. As well as being the perfect day out for anyone interested in horticulture and gardening, exploring parks, gardens and stately grounds gives us inspiration and ideas we can take back home.
To help you plan the perfect day out, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite gardens that have reopened.

Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Alton Towers is of course best known as a theme park but did you know it has over 500 acres of stunning, landscaped gardens to explore as well?

The gardens at Alton Towers are open and ready to welcome back visitors. Tickets need to be pre-booked online as they are limiting visitor numbers, following coronavirus guidelines.
The elegant gardens that surround the theme park are full of imagination and variety – a treat for anybody who appreciates green-fingered creativity. These gardens were first created in the eighteenth century and visitors today can enjoy the mature trees and established flora of the garden as it was first imagined by the Earl of Shrewsbury.

A fine collection of statues and fountains can be found in the grounds, as well as magnificent conservatories and decorative fountains. Take a recommended walking route around the gardens to see all they have to offer and to make sure you get to all the best viewpoints.

National Trust Places

The National Trust has reopened many of its 200 gardens and parks now, some on a pre-booking basis, so do check before you go.

Here are three of the places that are open and some of our favourite gardens to visit at this time of year.

The gardens at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge were designed so that a different area of the garden would flourish each season, so there is always something special to see when you visit, no matter the time of year. Gardeners, landscapers and groundspeople will appreciate the thoughtful design – there are tree-lined avenues and clever use of symmetry and circular shapes to draw the eye in the formal gardens. At this time of year, The Dahlia Garden is stunning, with a rainbow of colour sweeping around the border.

Cothele, in Cornwall, is another one of our favourite National Trust places to visit in the summer months. It boasts terraces planted with hydrangeas and roses, a stunning cut flower garden and lily pad-strewn ponds. Make sure to take a stroll around the orchard, under the shade of apple, pear and cherry trees.

Further north, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden are wonderful to visit. The water garden is unique and was granted World Heritage Status in 1986. The river Skell has been channelled into canals, cascades and ponds, creating a tranquil waterscape, surrounded by lush sweeping lawns.

RHS gardens

Four of the RHS gardens – Wisley, Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Rosemoor have reopened under a pre-booking system. Some areas within the gardens like glasshouses and play areas remain closed if it is difficult to maintain social distancing. The RHS shops and Plant Centres in these gardens have reopened too.

RHS Wisley is one of our favourites, with 240 acres of gardens it’s a true sight to behold and you can easily while away a day exploring. We aren’t the only ones – RHS Wisley is visited by 1.2 million people each year. The gardens are diverse with different planting and gardening styles at every turn. With a huge plant collection and over 100 years of gardening history, it has something for everyone and there’s something different to see every time to visit.

Explore from home

If you still prefer to stay at home, or if the great British weather hinders plans for days outdoors, you don’t have to miss out! The RHS are doing virtual tours of the four gardens they have reopened, so you can explore them from the comfort of your own sofa.

You can explore the flourishing Cottage Garden at Wisley, see the roses in bloom at Rosemoor’s Shrub Rose Garden or see the colourful foxgloves at Hyde Hall. The RHS has done a wonderful job of capturing their gardens, so you can immerse yourself in their inspiring beauty without leaving the house. There is something for everyone, whether you want to see unusual planting schemes, unique garden design or beautiful blooms!

With the guidelines changing regularly, make sure you check before you visit any garden, and book a visiting slot where required. Go and soak up some inspiration if you can – this time of year is perfect for enjoying these impressive, grand gardens.

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