Saturday, 7 November 2009

A look at some A* gardens!


As the days get shorter, I thought I'd reflect on some of the wonderful gardens that I've seen in the last couple of years and post in between the new gardens that I visit while abroad. So here's to some of the magnificent "A"s on my list - some have already been featured in my blog, but others will be appearing here for the first time.
First, and one of my favourites, are the Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, Wilts (right) - a stunning 5-acre garden set around a Tudor house beside the abbey. Although famous for its spectacular displays of tulips and roses, this is a garden worth making a detour for at any time. Open March to October, daily.

Aberglasney Gardens in Wales make it into my A* list because of the painstaking restoration work carried out here to transform what was once considered "lost" into what is there today. These gardens are quite unique and as you wander through the different areas, you feel as though you have stepped back in time. Open all year except Christmas Day.


The restored Cloister Garden at Aberglasney

An Cala in Scotland sits in a marvellous position near the sea, and is a series of carefully planted areas which invite further investigation, and there are many charming touches including sheep sculptures, a burbling stream and a small wooden temple. Generally considered to be at its best in spring and summer, and with a wonderful collection of azaleas and rhododendrons, I visited in the autumn and really enjoyed my afternoon amid the falling leaves, with the bracing air. Open April - October, and well worth combining with some of the other fine gardens in the area.


An Cala in autumn - the house makes a wonderful backdrop to the gardens

Nearby Arduaine is another must-see in Scotland, with fine sea views, an incredible collection of trees and shrubs and an interesting history. The first great gardener who lived here was James Campbell, a tea planter, who brought back fine specimens from his forays into Sri Lanka and the East. Acquired in 1971 by two Essex nurserymen, Edmund and Harry Wright, the gardens were given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1992. Open year round - wonderful for views over the Sound of Jura and long walks.


Athelhampton House in Dorset has a fine architectural garden, with unusual features including a circular Corona, Great Court with its 12 immaculately clipped yew pyramids, and the benefit of the River Piddle, which bounds the garden on one side and feeds the pools and fountains that are one of the most attractive features of the property. An interesting house too, and lovely views over the surrounding Thomas Hardy countryside. Gardens open March to end of October, but check website for opening days.


The clipped yews in the Great Court at Athelhampton

Each property on my A-list is located in an outstanding area of the UK, so if you're going to visit you may want to plan a longer trip and see some other neighbouring gardens. Garden Visit is a great website for planning trips all over the world, and provides details and maps, so worth adding to your bookmark list if you're a regular garden visitor ... like me.

17 comments:

  1. Reading your blog always makes me long for an overseas vacation . . . with a willing garden-touring partner. I might have to invite a friend instead of hubby :-)
    On another note, I posted recently about widening my blog so I could post bigger pictures. Your detailed landscape photos would be so beautiful in a larger size. I used to use the same blogger template that you have, and something about the rounded corners messes up the widening. There's probably some way to fix it, but I could never figure it out. So I had to move to another template. If you ever decide to widen, you might have to do the same.
    Keep these great posts coming!! Thanks.

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  2. Yes I can see the merits of each garden, Tiggerlot, even in autumn. You have such a wonderful life, don't you?

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  3. Charlotte, that first photo is an absolute show-stopper, and all the gardens sound like treasures. Definitely A-listers.

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  4. Oh my goodness. Your post has me suddenly gripped with an overwhelming urge to travel back to Great Britain and see all the gardens I missed in previous visits :)

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  5. Wonderful post. The walkway in the first picture is just magical, and the pyramid shaped trees are delightful. :)

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  6. Some real gems there and more to add to the list :)

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  7. Great list. I would love to see all of these gardens in person. I find the first and third photos to be uniquely beautiful and intriguing.

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  8. Just beautiful! The shutters on the house at An Cala really are the icing on the cake!

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  9. Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard. I love manicured gardens, and these are def, A + . Good post. You are lucky!
    Rosey

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  10. They are such beautiful gardens. Please don't forget your camera when you take off again. I really appreciate seeing them.

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  11. garden of dreams! These are beautiful. You are a lucky person to have visited all of these amazing places.

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  12. Love the listing of those great gardens. It is funny,as I scroll through the posting, what jumps out to me? The blue shutters on the house at An Cala.

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  13. Wow, Wow, Wow, They are all gorgeous, but that firt shot of all the clipped green topiary along the walk gets my heart racing!

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  14. I won't be traveling, but I do love looking at your photos, next best to being there!

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  15. The only one of those I haven't been to is Athelhampton so I must make that one a must see. I am so glad you noted Arduaine & particularly An Cala. The latter was a really magical garden I thought, particualarly so when there is no body else around. We then spent ages watching 3 buzzards 'parked' very close by.

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  16. Fabulous gardens - I hope one day you get to Abriachan, and maybe we will make your next list :) Cat

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  17. Lovely gardens, I particularly like the photo of Abbey House Gardens.

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