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Our little black book of enchanting places


5 great garden getaways by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O'Sullivan


From Friday, visitors to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace will be able to view Henry VIII’s recently discovered gardening manual. It’s part of an exhibition called Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, and perfectly timed to coincide with the reopening of some of our favourite gardens across the country. Team a visit with a stay at a great hotel nearby – or in some cases, in the garden itself. Here are four to get you in the mood for spring.

Bowood House and Gardens

The gardens at Bowood House in Wiltshire won the HHA/Christie’s Garden of the Year Award last year. They reopen on March 27 and horticultural delights include several beautiful terrace gardens, a four-acre walled garden, a wildflower garden and a magnificent woodland garden filled with azaleas and rhododendrons (above) from late April to early June. Guests can stay either at Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort or rent an enchanting four-bedroom Georgian house, set in its own gardens. B&B from £150 per night, which includes admission to Bowood House and Gardens and the Rhododendron Walks. Further information, Bowood House and Gardens Sandringham/Congham Hall Hotel & Spa

Reopening on April 2, the gardens at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk are spectacular, with woodland walks, carrstone rockeries, a grotto, lakes, formal gardens and lawns. Nearby Congham Hall Hotel is offering two free tickets to Sandringham House, Museum and Gardens to guests who stay two nights, between Monday and Thursday. Set in 30 acres of parkland, Congham itself is well known for its herb garden (above), featuring more than 400 different varieties of herb, including one once used to treat the plague. The package is available between April 20 and May 21 and costs £199 for dinner, bed and breakfast. Further information, Congham Hall Hotel & SpaCompton Acres/The Pig on the Beach

Compton Acres in Sandbanks switch to summer opening hours on April 3. They are arguably Dorset’s finest privately owned historic gardens and standout features include a lovely woodland garden and a stunning Japanese garden with a tea house (above). There’s an Italian villa for private events but no overnight accommodation, so stay at The Pig on the Beach, the newest in the Pig family of hotels, just on the other side of Poole Harbour. Doubles from £119 midweek until the end of April. Further information, The Pig on the BeachGreat Dixter/The George in Rye

Reopening on March 28, Great Dixter, in Rye, was created by Lutyens in the early 1900s but it was gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd who made it world famous. It’s laid out in Arts and Crafts style, with profuse planting in a riot of colour (Christopher Lloyd had no truck with segregated colour schemes). In April the display of tulips is breathtaking. Stay at The George in Rye, an historic coaching inn, recently renovated with great style by owners Katie and Alex Clarke. From £125 per night midweek. Further information, The George in Rye Barnsley House

The gardens at Barnsley House in Gloucestershire were created by garden designer and writer Rosemary Verey. But there’s another reason for heading to Barnsley House this spring: the rare pasqueflower, which blooms around Easter in only a handful of places in England, can be seen just two miles from the hotel. Barnsley House is offering a special overnight package on April 13-14 and 20-21 April in which Head Gardener Richard Gatenby will lead guests in search of the delicate purple flower. Cost is £400, based on two sharing a double room and including use of spa facilities, two 25-minute spa treatments, and an allowance of £40 per person towards dinner and breakfast. Further information, Barnsley House

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