|Colourful tulip displays in the Italian Garden at Hever in April|
School holidays are about to start in Britain, and parents everywhere must be wondering how they're going to fill the time with kids at home in the next two weeks, so today's Galloping Gardener Walks © features three great gardens in Kent where there's interest for all the family at this time of year, starting with Hever Castle and its 125 acres of history and child-friendly grounds.
|Hever, the moated castle, which dates in part to the 13th century|
One-time home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, this is a fabulous moated castle, which dates in part to the 13th century. But it was William Waldorf Astor who made the gardens what they are today when he purchased the property 100 years ago. He imported all the statues from abroad, created the artificial lake and laid the fabulous Italian garden that is one of the highlights of a visit to Hever. There's also a giant topiary chess set and a water maze that children love, plus plenty of space to run around in or enjoy a picnic.
|Enjoy the tulip displays at Groombridge Place|
Groombridge Place is another great garden for kids, with its Enchanted Forest and roaming peacocks who put up great displays. This is another moated property dating back to the 17th century (house not open to the public), and acres of grounds that are particularly glorious at this time of year. Not to be missed are the "Drunken" juniper trees, giant chess board and, later in the year, the white rose garden.
|Wonderful flower displays throughout the summer months at Groombridge|
April sees thousands of spring bulbs, while May brings on the azaleas and rhododendrons. In the Secret Garden you'll find cherry blossom and laburnum, while bluebells bring the Enchanted Forest alive. Groombridge Place is glorious throughout the summer months, but often gets missed by garden lovers who are determined to visit better known properties. So do consider this as another one for your Wish List because, you certainly won't be disappointed!
|Penshurst - a castellated house - where Henry VIII was a regular visitor when courting Anne Boleyn|
And just around the corner you've got Penshurst Place, where Henry VIII used to stay when he was courting Anne Boleyn. Yet another moated property with a large garden, plenty of space for the kids to run around and spectacular tulip displays at this time of year. At the heart of the gardens there is a castellated, medieval house (above).
Glorious throughout the summer months, but particularly lovely when the spring bulbs are in bloom in April, you'll find plenty to occupy the kids here in the 48 acres of grounds. The peonies appear in late May and are followed by spectacular herbaceous borders in June. Reputed to be one of the oldest gardens in Britain, with records dating back to the 14th century, this garden was completely restored in the 1970s. Definitely another property to put on your Wish List!