How does your garden grow?
Date Posted: 10/01/2010
Budding ideas for gardening groups and green-fingered enthusiasts.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Established in 1670, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is reportedly home to seven per cent of all known plants, spread across its 70-acres of landscaped grounds. Key features include The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden and the iconic Victorian Temperate Palm House, providing an entrance to the garden’s famous Glasshouses.
Gain an insight into the vital plant research and conservation conducted by the RBGE’s scientists at John Hope Gateway. This eco-friendly visitor centre aims to provide a model of sustainability, and features a host of permanent and temporary exhibitions, a Real Life Science studio and restaurant. Also, with 2010 marked as the International Year of Biodiversity, RBGE will be hosting an extensive programme of special events, details of which will be updated online.
Admission to the garden and John Hope Gateway is free, while discounted rates for parties of ten plus are available for groups wishing to visit the Glasshouses.
The gardens and grounds of this 17th century Dorset mansion promise a style to suit varying tastes of all green-fingered groups. With historical highlights including a towering Egyptian obelisk, brought to Kingston Lacy following a 20-year journey from Philae, Egypt, and a Victorian Fernery, groups can also make the most of a visit by exploring the ancient and cultural treasures on display inside the mansion itself.
Visit Kingston Lacy throughout January and February to behold the sea of dazzling white, as the grounds are transformed by an enchanting display of flowering snowdrops acknowledging the first signs of spring.
Kingston Lacy’s seven-acre restored Japanese Garden is promoted as the largest of its kind in the UK, created originally in the early 20th century as the fashion for Japanese gardens swept the country. Full of symbolic representations as dictated by tradition, with dramatic viewpoints, the centrepiece is the Tea Garden, with its tea house and waiting arbour.
Garden tours are available, with Tractor and Trailer Tours for visitors with disabilities. The admission fee is £10 per person for groups of 15 or more, with reduced rates available for visits to the property’s gardens and park.
Horsham, west Sussex
A grade I listed garden, featuring seven lakes spread across its 200-acre valley, Leonardslee offers a woodland wonderland which promises to capture the imagination with its beautiful spring displays of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. A haven for wildlife, Leonardslee is home to its own herd of wallabies, ducks, geese, and even the occasional deer.
2010 will see a new display of local artwork set in the scenic surrounds of Leonardslee’s Sculpture Garden. Groups seeking temporary respite from the gardens can explore Beyond the Dolls House - a special exhibition displaying a miniature world based on life over a century ago.
Guided tours can be arranged on request, with discounted admission rates available for pre-booked coach parties of 20 plus.
The Savill Garden
Windsor Great Park, Berkshire
Created in the 1930s and boasting 35-acres of trees, shrubbery, ponds and streams, lawns, meadows and formal beds, The Savill Garden is promoted as one of England’s finest woodland and ornamental gardens.
From mid-June, visitors can enjoy the latest addition of the contemporary Rose Garden, where specially selected blooms chosen for their scent and strong colour, promise an intense sensory experience. Groups can also participate in a variety of roserelated activities at Celebration of the Rose (21st to 25th June).
The Savill Garden’s New Zealand Garden was completed in 2007 and boasts the largest collection of native plants outside of Kiwi country. The collection grew from the plant selection gifted to The Queen on a state visit to New Zealand in 1986.
New for 2010, groups can book special interest seasonal tours running throughout the year. From a ‘Royal Tour’ uncovering the garden’s imperial connections, to ‘A toast to the new Rose Garden Tour’ culminating in an informal chat over a glass of rosé wine.
RHS Garden Wisley
Gifted to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1903, Wisley is promoted as the historic heart of the RHS and with over 200 acres in which to explore its seasonal highlights, groups can enjoy the garden throughout the year.
Hosting a number of special events throughout the year, groups can picnic in the grounds and enjoy a series of open-air concerts at this year’s Wisley Music Festival (10th to 12th June), be inspired at the annual Wisley Flower Show (10th to 12th September), and sample scrumptious offerings at the popular Taste of Autumn Festival (21st to 24th October).
A special rate of £7.50 per person is available for parties of ten plus if paid for up to three days in advance. Wisley also offers free coach parking and group catering packages.
Renishaw Hall, Gardens
Home of the Sitwell family for almost 400 years, Renishaw Hall offers a 300-acre park to explore, alongside its eight-acres of Italianate gardens. The restored orangery is also home to The National Collection of Yuccas, which originated in the western US.
An enchanting venue for family groups, occupy younger group members with the children’s fairytale garden, featuring a living willow tunnel, a maze and a storytelling corner.
Created over a century ago by Sir George Sitwell, Renishaw Hall Gardens promotes itself as one of the most important classical Italianate gardens in Britain. Featuring mixed borders and rose and clematis gardens, the grounds are populated with statues collected by Sir George on his many tours of Italy.
Free coach parking is available and organisers and coach drivers can benefit from free admission and a voucher for the Gallery cafe.
As featured on BBC’s Gardeners’ World Barnsdale Gardens is publicised as Britain’s largest collection of individually designed gardens and likened to a theme park for green-fingered enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy the TV ‘sets’ of the Cottage, Reclaim, and Paradise Gardens.
A Children’s Garden will be created in 2010 to benefit Barnsdale’s younger visitors. The gardens will also be hosting a variety of summer events, including willow-weaving, pottery demonstrations, live music and a Pimms and Croquet Party.
Pre-booked groups of ten plus can take advantage of discounted rates, free coach parking and bespoke tours.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Over 250 years old and covering 300-acres, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew offers an incredible collection of exotic plants and scenic landscapes in what is still primarily a scientific institute.
Celebrating the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity, this is the core theme at Kew for 2010 and groups will have the chance to partake in its family-friendly summer programme. Highlights include Kew’s summer festival, a butterfly house in the orchid and fern zone of the Princess of Wales Conservatory where visitors can see pollination in action, and live bug displays.
Discounted rates are available for parties of ten plus and guided tours and group lunches can also be arranged.
Already accommodating a lake, a rose garden and stirring woodland amongst its 35-acres, Chiddingstone Castle in Kent has announced plans to create the largest Japanese Stroll Garden in the UK, with features including a cherry tree garden, a Japanese ceremonial tea garden, a woodland play garden and a nature garden. Stay tuned for further details on the castle website.
Groups planning an excursion to Essex may wish to pay a visit to the sunshine coast’s award-wining seafront gardens at Clacton on Sea. Presented with a prestigious Green Flag award in 2009, the gardens are comprised of the Sunken Rose Garden, Sunken Flower Garden, Sensory Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Memorial Garden and Chain Pot.
Warner Leisure Hotels will be opening up four of its historic hotel gardens on specific dates throughout the summer in support of the National Gardens Scheme. Guests and visitors alike can enjoy the spring blooms at Cricket St Thomas in Somerset, the ancient Yew tree hedges of Holme Lacy House, Hertfordshire, the Victorian Rose Garden at Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire, and the traditional English country garden at Berkshire’s Littlecote House. Contact Warner’s groups team for further details. Discounts of up to 25 per cent are available to parties of ten plus booking a Warner Leisure Hotels break.
For a stately excursion, why not visit English Heritage’s ‘royal’ gardens at Kenilworth Castle (Warwickshire) and Carisbrooke Castle (Isle of Wight). Kenilworth’s Elizabethan garden was originally created to impress Queen Elizabeth I, while the ‘Privy’ garden at Carisbrooke Castle was occupied by Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria. Planted in 2009, groups can be amongst the first to see both gardens in full bloom.
Groups of 11 or more visiting these English Heritage properties are entitled to a 15 per cent discount, with free entry for the organiser and coach driver.