Guest post by Naomi Schillinger
National Gardening week is this week it’s got me thinking about what fantastic gardens there are to visit in the UK. Here’s a number of great gardens that I would visit time and time again.
Great Dixter in East Sussex has to be one of my all time favourite gardens, as whatever time of year you visit, there’ll always be joyous plant combinations to delight you in this six-acre haven. Christopher Llloyd grew up in this Lutyens designed house and garden and developed his own stunning planting palette, constantly experimenting with colours, forms and textures during his years gardening and writing at Great Dixter. He’s sadly no longer with us, but his head gardener and friend, Fergus Garrett, deftly carries on in the same experimental spirit, creating a garden which entices visitors from all round the globe.
In early spring, joyful bulbs team up with demure hellebores and cardimines, before tulips take up the baton, combining with newly emerging perennials. Come summer and continuing into autumn, it’s show time at Great Dixter, with rich colours and textures thrilling the visitor at every turn. Beyond just the riotous exotic garden, dahlias are woven throughout the rest of the grounds, alongside self-seeded annuals, perennials, roses and shrubs. It’s an intoxicating mixture. The staff at Great Dixter are friendly and informative, and will happily identify plants for you, which can often be bought at the well-stocked nursery.
Great Dixter Rye, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH www.greatdixter.co.uk
Another southern delight, just north of Great Dixter is Sissinghurst. This quintessentially English garden was created by the Bloomsbury writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson and is now run by the National Trust. Most famous for its white garden, Sissinghurst is divided up into rooms, each with its own theme. One room leads to another with tantalising glimpses through arches, fences and gaps in the hedges. More formal spaces such as the rose garden and the circular lawn lead to the wilder nuttery and orchard and the National Trust provides walking guides and family trails to further explore the surrounding open countryside and woodlands.
Sissinghurst, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle
If you’re passing through London, here are a couple of gardens that are most definitely worth a visit.
For a small but perfectly formed garden right in the heart of the capital, look no further than the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, created in partnership with the Eden project in Cornwall. Complete with a bar, this delightful flower and vegetable garden is the perfect space for a refreshing green interlude as you soak up the Southbank’s art scene. Just a hop skip and a jump over Waterloo bridge from the High Holborn and Covent Garden Travelodge or down the road from Southwark and Waterloo hotels, this garden is open daily from 10am-10pm until the end of October.
Southbank Centre,Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX www.southbankcentre.co.uk Nearest Tubes: Waterloo and Embankment
Along the river, another hidden gem is the Inner Temple Gardens, one of London’s four Inns of Court. In this tranquil spot, you will find glorious stretches of pampered grass sweeping down towards the Thames, surrounded by specimen trees, spectacularly vibrant and lush borders and glorious pot displays.
Within walking distance from several London Travelodge hotels, access this garden via the main gate opposite Crown Office Row, tucked in just south of Fleet Street EC4Y 7HL. The gardens are usually open to visitors on weekdays from 12.30-3pm. www.innertemple.org.uk Nearest Tube: Blackfriars
Naomi Schillinger gardens in London, growing fruit, veg and flowers. She enthusiastically blogs about her horticultural endeavours at www.outofmyshed.co.uk. Naomi also organises a community veg growing project, which inspired her recently published book: Veg Street, Grow your own community.