|Hampton Court castle in Herefordshire|
My quest for castle gardens took me to pastures new this year. First to Herefordshire, to Hampton Court - a fine castle which has origins back to the 15th century, with a first-class garden. Completely renovated by an American, who bought the property in 1994 - this is one of the best-kept gardens I've seen yet. It's a good combination of landscaped areas and ebullient planting and comes complete with maze and water garden. There's also a fine Dutch garden (below).
|The Dutch Garden at Hampton Court (Herefordshire)|
Next stop is Hever Castle, which I've featured many times before here, because it also has one of the finest gardens in Britain and a collection of statuary that will make you sit up and stare - all acquired in Italy by former owner, Lord Astor, who also lived at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. Hever has all the magical attributes that a 14th century castle should - a moat, a water maze, an impressive lake and following Lord Astor's involvement - one of the finest Italianate gardens in Britain.
|Hever Castle in Kent is open throughout the year|
Another really unusual castle property is Lullingstone in Kent - home of the Hart-Dyke family and now the site of Tom Hart-Dyke's amazing World Garden. He was captured by South American bandits whilst on an orchid-hunting trip and spent several months in captivity in the jungle - it was during this time he conceived the idea of the World Garden which would allow him to showcase plants from all over the globe. He has worked wonders with his innovative ideas and part of the charm of this garden is the views of the castle and church behind.
|The World Garden at Lullingstone showcases plants from all over the planet|