|Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex has a charming cottage garden and Arts & Crafts terraces|
With so few gardens open for business in Britain at this time of year, I'm into my annual round-up of new gardens visited during the year, starting at the beginning of the alphabet, with Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex. This is a charming, small garden, with Arts & Crafts terraces, owned and operated by the National Trust, surrounding a 14th century cottage - the first property added to their portfolio in 1896. It nestles in glorious countryside near the coast and makes an interesting stop if you're visiting any of the Bloomsbury Set gardens in the area. For a perfect day, stop for lunch in Lewes and take in some of the gardens after lunch.
|Arley Hall in Cheshire looks good throughout the season, but The Rootery is particularly impressive in May|
Looking glorious in springtime, when I visited for the first time this year, I'm told that Arley Hall in Cheshire also looks good throughout the visitor season (April - September), and certainly deserves the coveted 2-star rating it gets in the "Good Gardens Guide". It's a large garden, divided into many different areas, but particularly stunning in May is The Rootery (above). But there are also magnificent borders - reputed to be amongst the first in Britain - and many different garden rooms.
|The Audubon House and garden in Key West is one of several gardens worth visiting|
Across the Atlantic, Audubon House in Key West is a tiny, one-acre garden plot filled with lovely plants and a slice of history that will appeal to keen birdwatchers, because this is where John James Audubon came to paint many of his birds, using the plants in the garden here as background. The museum is filled with many Audubon originals. I actually visited this time last year, but it made such an impression on me that I wanted to include it in my annual round-up.
|Austwick Hall in Yorkshire has a moongate - designed and built by the owners|
Austwick Hall in Yorkshire won my heart the moment I found the moongate at the bottom of the garden. Although I never wrote a full review on this property, I was lucky enough to stay there for several nights while visiting gardens in the area. The garden is lovely in May and the owners run a really wonderful Bed & Breakfast - definitely a place to stay if you want to see all the other glorious gardens in the area!
|Aysgarth Rock Garden in Yorkshire - a tiny Edwardian plot, recently restored|
Not far away from Austwick is the Aysgarth Rock Garden - a tiny plot tended by the villagers of this Yorkshire Dale hamlet. This garden was created between 1906 and 1914 by local alpine plant specialists, Messrs James Backhouse & Son of York. It's a charming slice of Edwardian history, set in stunning countryside, and a short stop here will lift your spirits!