Saturday, 22 January 2011

When water makes a garden special! Make the most of a garden pass for overseas visitors!

Winter is always a good time to take stock and make your travel plans for the future, and for me it's a time to reflect on some of the wonderful gardens I've seen in my travels and decide where to go next. I was sorting through photographs this week and found several places that make the basis of  this "Wondrous Water Garden" feature today. It's raining so hard here in Florida, that it seems doubly appropriate!
     One that will always stick in my mind is the garden at the Swarovski Crystal Works just outside Innsbruck in Austria, which I visited some 18 months ago. And although most visitors come for the museum, which is filled with amazing crystal objects, I wanted to see the Alpine Garden and the huge grass-covered giant (above), with crystal eyes - Swarovski of course - that spouts water into a pool below. This is a perfect garden to visit on a summer's day, when you have a clear view of the mountains.
In Britain we have many gardens with moats, which also make watery wonderlands. Scotney Castle (above) is a moated medieval manor house - in ruins - which sits on an island in the middle of a lake. It makes a terrific day out because it's set in the middle of rolling Kent countryside and has wonderful spring displays of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas. But just as good at any other time of year if you want to take a picnic and spend a day out with the children. There's enough acres of open parkland here to let them run around for hours! 
Sheffield Park in East Sussex remains open throughout the year and is renowned for its spring and autumn colours, but the greatest joy of this garden is the reflections in the water. It doesn't matter what time of year you visit, there's always something to reflect on, and you can stand on one of the bridges that cross the lakes to see the gardens at their best. Spring and autumn are particularly memorable - for the rhododendron displays and the turning colours at the end of the season.
You can't get much more watery than Longstock Water Gardens in Hampshire - famous for its fabulous damp-loving plant displays and open for charity on the first and third Sunday of every month from April to the end of September (14.00-17.00). Owned by the John Lewis group of department stores (a British equivalent to Macy's), this garden is maintained for the employees. Well worth making a special trek to see on one of the open days because there aren't many other water gardens in Britain to rival this one!
Buscot Park is another garden worth making a special visit to see the stepped-canal water garden designed by Harold Peto (above). This is a garden on many different levels, featuring a series of pools and fountains, with adjacent garden rooms. There is also a huge walled kitchen garden, filled with alliums in high summer and a Judas tree tunnel. 
     Each one of these gardens is exceptional in its own way. All but the Crystal Garden and Longstock come under the umbrella of England's National Trust. For overseas visitors the Trust offers a Touring Pass, which is valid for seven or 14 days and gives unlimited entry to Trust properties. The pass must be purchased in advance, but represents excellent value for money if you're planning on visiting more than a single property.

12 comments:

  1. I love the mood of Longstock. It looks to be like a real like Eden.

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  2. The Swarovski garden looks simply incredible, if only for that fountain!

    We took your advice last year and bought a pass for the National Trust properties, which was definitely worth while. As it happened, we joined the Royal Oak Society in the US, which paid for itself quite quickly, while also supporting such a good cause. (The added bonus is that as "members," we were ushered to the head of any waiting lines at some of the more popular Trust properties!)

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  3. Water has always been a wonderful feature in any garden big or small as the water will reflect the surrounding beauty. Loved all those beautiful gardens in your fantastic photos they are unique in their own ways..

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  4. A visit to your site is truly a journey of pleasure. Wow, that picture of Sheffield Park in East Sussex is just amazing. I have finally ordered a new much better quality digital camera, so hoping for some better photos, not expecting to compete with this though.

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  5. What a fantastic waterfall. Amazing. I love the beautiful fall colors.

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  6. Encore, Applause, more magic.

    Thank you so much for this
    magnificent post. I love the calla lillys, I never knew they grew in a pond. Can't wait for spring and my lilly of the valleys and crocus
    to come up. Enough snow.

    yvonne

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  7. Amazing!! There is such artistry in those gardens. It's really inspiring. The water spouting giant is great! Kids must love him. :o)

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  8. Your posts are taking me a lot longer to read lately Charlotte. (not that I'm complaining) I have to revisit each featured garden in its original post. They all have their unique beauty.

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  9. The Scotney Castle captured my mind and imagination as a destination since I am on a pilgrimage for all things historical lately. Must say though all your photos are quite tantalizing.

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  10. I want a giants head water feature too!

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  11. Wonderful post as always. Vroom, vroom! :)

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  12. I'm so glad of the continued hard work that goes into these water gardens, they provide great ideas that people can take home to use in their own water features.

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