Remarkable "R" gardens to revisit this year!
Race for Ramster (above) when it opens in the spring because you'll be treated to bulb and blossom displays that will lift your heart! This glorious garden is open for just three months when spring is at its best in Britain, starting with spectacular daffodil displays in April and followed by the bluebells in May. Wonderful woodland walks are a feature here, and it's always interesting to see how the Millenium Garden is progressing. Combine this with nearby Vann when it opens for the during the first week of April, May or June (check Vann website for details) and you won't be disappointed.
Put a snow leopard in your memory tank at the wonderful Rare Species Conservation Centre in Kent - all the animals live in a glorious garden setting and if you're looking for somewhere to take the kids during the holidays, this is the place to go because you'll be treated to many unusual sights besides the snow leopards including sun bears and extremely noisy toucans. This makes a really interesting day out and you could always combine it with Godinton House if you want to see another magnificent garden.
It was Mable who put the "R" in Ringling when it came to roses in her garden in Florida. Wife of a circus millionaire, this lady brought a new style of gardening to her Venetian palazzo in Sarasota, when she planted her legendary rose garden, which survives today as one of the finest examples in the United States. I was astounded by the displays I saw when I visited in December, and I'm told that the roses bloom all year, so one to put on your list if you're down in the Sunshine State in 2011.
Riverhill House (above) has one of the best bluebell woods I've seen and, with the garden in progress, there'll be more to see elsewhere on the property this year than last. Set high on a hill and close enough to Titsey Place with its wonderful walled garden, to make a day out seeing both, this is a sight not to be missed when spring arrives in England. The bluebell displays here are really spectacular and it's worth making a special pilgrimage to see them!
I haven't yet had a chance to do the gardens at Rousham House justice, because a fleeting visit on a rainy day is definitely not the right time to see the magnificent grounds - one of the great examples of William Kent's work and given the highest accolade by Monty Don in his television series last year - this is a garden that I must return to (and easy for me now because my son is at college nearby, so no excuse for missing this one!). Open year round, so I shall head off there next week if the sun stays out.