During the Winter months gardening is not top of the list of priorities for most. Instead staying warm and enjoying time with your family and friends takes precedent. However, what better way to spend time with your favourite people than to grab hats, coats and gloves and head off to explore one of our local gardens to find inspiration for the year ahead. Within the Thames Valley there are hundreds of formal gardens that open their doors to the public and a visit to one of these is a great way of grabbing ideas for planting and landscaping your own outdoor space.
Here are six of our favourites where we know you’ll find plenty of garden design inspiration.
For over 300 years Cliveden House has played host to dukes, earls and royalty. Now under the guardianship of the National Trust, you can follow in their footsteps as you take a leisurely stroll around the estate gardens or a more invigorating walk through the woodlands or along the banks of the River Thames.
As you approach the main house you are greeted by the impressive Fountain of Love before entering the formal gardens that include a 500-meter long yew hedge maze, a Water Garden built for the late Lord Astor, a Parterre with sweeping views of the Thames, the Rose Garden filled with over 900 flowers and the Italian inspired Long Garden.
Visit Cliveden: Cliveden Road, Taplow, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire, Buckinghamshire, SL1 8NS
More information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden
The Savill Garden
Set in Windsor Great Park, the Savill Gardens are a natural haven for horticulturists and outdoor lovers alike. Created in the 1930’s, these woodlands and gardens have been a focal point for people to see a variety of rare plants laid out in stunning designs.
The 35 acres of interconnected gardens include the Hidden Gardens, Spring Wood, the Summer Gardens, the New Zealand Garden, Summer Wood, The Glades, Autumn Wood and the Winter Beds.
Each season brings something new to the Savill Gardens, transforming the views to give you a fresh feel every time you visit. Highlights include Callicarpa bodinieri which is colourful shrub, The Valley Phantom mapel tree and the Lavender Queen winter flowering camellia. These gardens have something special, every month of the year.
Once you’ve visited the Garden, you can extend your stay with a walk into Windsor Great Park to visit the stunning Valley Gardens known for their stunning displays of magnolia, rhododendron and azaleas, as well as Himalayan and Chinese birches. In May the Punch Bowl erupts into a riotous display of colours from multi-coloured azaleas and is well worth searching out.
Visit Savill Garden: Sat nav postcode – TW20 0UJ. The car park entrance is on Wick Lane.
Free entry: Savill Garden offer free entry to the gardens during December and January (check their website prior to leaving for more details)
More information: http://www.windsorgreatpark.co.uk/en/experiences/the-savill-garden
Originally set up by George Fergusson Wilson as an experimental garden to try and grow difficult plants successfully, RHS Wisley continues today as a centre of learning to educate future horticulturists.
Looked after by 90 staff and home to some of the largest plant collections anywhere in the world you are sure to find something to inspire planting, design and cultivation ideas for gardens of all sizes. Planting varies enormously, from the mingling of herbaceous perennials and shrubs in the famous Mixed Borders to the lower-maintenance, prairie-style planting in the Glasshouse Borders. For plant enthusiasts, we strongly recommend a visit to the Trials Field to see what plants are being assessed for the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Visit RHS Wisley: RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB
More information: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley
Highclere Castle & Garden
Highclere will appeal to both garden lovers and history buffs alike. Famous as the home of Lord Carnarvon, one of the lead archaeologists that discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, the house is perhaps now better known as the magnificent setting for the hit ITV drama Downton Abbey. It also houses an impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities.
But it’s the not quite so famous gardens that we feel deserve attention. Designed by Capability Brown, the renowned 18th Century landscape architect, the gardens feature around 200 magnificent cedar trees, and feature a number of small but inspired gardens. These include a white garden, a secret garden with a beautiful border, and a spectacular wildflower garden.
Visit Highclere: Highclere Castle, Newbury RG20 9RN
More information: https://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/castle-gardens-woodlands
This beautiful manor house was owned by the Victorian prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli and was often visited by Queen Victoria. The gardens are set in a lovely wooded area, and were created by Disraeli’s wife Mary Anne who was strongly influenced by Italian design. The formal bedding in the south garden dates back to 1880, having been restored by an expert team of gardening experts. The garden also features its own orchard, with around 35 varieties of apple tree, and 4 varieties of pear tree. Hughenden Manor also boasts a variety of weird and wonderful plants, including a Chimaera ‘Adamii’. If you’re looking for inspiration from the Victorian era, this estate is one not to be missed.
Visit Hughenden Manor: High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4LA
More information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hughenden
Stowe Landscape Garden
Stowe Landscape Garden could be considered gardening on a vast scale. This is one of the finest Georgian landscapes available, designed by the Capability Brown, and has been continually updated and expanded since its creation. The gardens have been restored, with thousands of trees, flowers, and shrubs planted to capture the full scope of the landscapes full beauty. Stowe also plays host to over thirty temples and monuments, designed and installed by leading architects in the 18th century. The perfect place for picking up tips for how some clever landscaping and careful placement of garden structures can add visual interest and appeal to any garden.
Visit Stowe Garden: Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5EQ
More information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe
If you’ve found a local garden that has inspired you please free to get in touch with details so we can add it to our list. Or if you’ve already got some ideas up your sleeve for revamping your garden this year, talk to us at Thames Valley Landscapes to find out how we can turn your dreams into a reality. Call us on 01628 629720.