|Autumn colours at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire|
As I watch the weather forecast with increasing trepidation, hoping for a break in the rain to see gardens in their autumn glory, I must face facts and accept that winter's coming! Many of the gardens I know and love are closing their doors; gardeners are sweeping up the autumn leaves; the clocks soon change; and there's no getting away from the fact that we'll soon be into fog and frost. But there are some gardens that remain open throughout the winter months and I spent several hours at one of them last week.
|Hillier's Acer Valley is spectacular in October and November|
|Subtle colours in the bog garden at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens|
|The Centenary Border has been redesigned and replanted|
There are many different areas within the grounds and there's year-round interest here - there's a bog garden; Gurkha garden, featuring a wide range of Nepalese plants; heather garden; Winter Garden; children's discovery area; many unusual trees; wonderful vistas over the surrounding countryside; and an annual sculpture exhibition, which runs until the end of October, so every corner you turn reveals another surprise. This year also saw the opening of the new Centenary Border, which has been completely redesigned and replanted during the last 12 months (above).
|The gardens host an annual "Art in the Garden" exhibition|
The arboretum has many wonderful specimen trees and provides colour throughout the seasons. Particularly noteworthy is the labelling at the gardens, and you will see many plants that catch your eye. All are marked, so if you want to grow them at home, you know what to look for. Plant collections here are arranged by habitat (e.g. Bog Garden, Winter Garden) and by genus (e.g. Oak Field or Acer Valley). There's a nursery on site, but you can also visit any one of the Hillier nurseries around the country, or look online.
|Winter colours in the heather garden|
|The Winter Garden is the largest in Europe and well worth visiting|
|Spring time offers wonderful magnolia displays to visitors|
For more garden visits, click here