When I think of gardening, I think of England. A cottage garden to me is an English garden. So, when I go over I tend to visit a few gardens just because they make me feel so good to be in them. But also to get ideas, learn some history and try to soak up a little knowledge to take back home. Plus some of my best vacation photos are from English gardens. ( I will admit here that I have a difficult time getting my pictures to post on this site, I am working on it. In the meantime I thank Google images. I do try to only post photos that are close to ones I actually have in my albums).
The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, houses the world’s largest collection of plants. If you’re interested in gardens and plants, it’s a must see. Plan to spend the entire day here, it’s massive, with 300 acres of beautiful and diverse plants and buildings to see. It’s astounding to think that it was created in 1759 and still going strong.
There is every kind of garden that you can possibly imagine here. The Palm House, above, is truly amazing to be in. Full size palm trees and other tropical plants inside a beautiful Victorian greenhouse. I always try to imagine how they managed to build structures like this in the mid 1800s. Huge iron beams and sheets of glass, it’s mind boggling. There is Kew Palace with a medicinal garden that only has plants that were grown in the 17th century. I loved this garden with it’s wattle fencing and bee skep, very interesting. There is also a gallery, several other greenhouse structures, the Great Pagoda which was built in 1762 and at it’s highest point is 163 feet tall! Also a museum, library, conservatory, orangery, and one of Europe’s largest compost heaps. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Waterlily house with giant waterlilies that will hold the weight of a man, truly amazing. My friend Peggy has a relative that helped develop the lilies and then went on to be head gardener of the Missouri Botanical Garden!
There are guided tours, a tram that helps you get around, several cafes and a very nice gift shop where you can get lovely books and seeds.
Buckingham Palace Garden
I’ve actually seen more of this garden in magazines and on TV than in person, but I did get to do the palace tour on my first trip over and you get to walk through part of the garden at the end of the tour. There are 2 1/2 miles of gravel paths in the 42 acre site with lush shrubs and borders. It is beautifully kept (of course) and there is a 19th century lake with lovely weeping trees. I guess I like it for what it is and what it represents to England and London especially.
The Queen has opened it up to guests on a few special occasions and it was one of 3 Royal sites that the Queen allowed archaeologists to excavate in 2006. I saw it on television and they were able to verify some earlier designs and building placements.
Kensington Palace Sunken Garden
The beautiful Sunken garden was planted in 1908 and is relaxing to be in. We just stood and looked for the longest time because it was so tranquil and attractive. I’m not sure if there are other gardens at Kensington because the park surrounding it is so vast and beautiful, but the Sunken garden is definitely worth a look.
Hidcote Manor Garden
Hidcote is the quintessential English garden created by an American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston! In the Cotswolds close to Stratford-on-Avon. It is really lovely with multiple paved pathways, secret gardens, long views and so much color everywhere. You ooh and ahh over a hanging vine and turn around to clusters of fragrant roses and then walk through hedges to discover something even more gorgeous, it doesn’t stop. I wanted to put every plant on my wish list! Really breathtaking!
From my journal when I went in 2001 “Room after room of natural beauty separated by interesting shaped hedges. We had to move aside for blooms spilling over into the walkways”.
Stockton Bury Garden
This garden is tied with the garden at Parham House for my favorite gardens to visit (so far). I loved everything about it, from it’s history to the Tithe Barn Restaurant. I’ve never seen anything so perfect and wonderful, parts of it have been there since 660! It was originally a village that took care of the daily life of monks. There is a granary that is covered with an espaliered wisteria, also a climbing hydrangea and a climbing fuchsia, beautiful. Following a grass path is a long walk with peonies, shrubs, flowers of all kinds and at the end a huge round ivy covered building with a pointed roof that is a pigeon house. The entire interior has little pigeon holes peppered about with a revolving ladder. Ingenious really, the monks could randomly pick eggs to eat! Across a wide asphalt drive is a 1/2 round grass area with bird house up on the walls of surrounding shed like buildings, than a columned house with a lawn like Tara in Gone With the Wind. Everywhere there are stone troughs, fountains, birdbaths, interesting benches, assorted pools, all around gorgeous plantings. Through a gate and another grass walk to a perfect kitchen garden, a large and small greenhouse and this is only the beginning of this amazing garden. It isn’t large, at only 4 acres, but it is packed with everything you imagine a garden should have. It really is a magical place.
I absolutely loved this place, the house itself, the history and the lovely garden. My cousin Linda took Marcie and me here on our second visit to England. It’s not far from where she lives in Sussex, and such lovely country. The foundation stone to this beautiful house was laid in 1577, and if walls could talk I’m sure they would have some interesting stories. The owners housed 30 evacuees children from London during the second world war.
The garden is so well laid out and has such interesting plantings and sculptures. There is a perfect miniature two story brick house called a “Wendy House”, which is not something that I was aware existed before I went here. The house sits on 875 acres, including an historic deer park. It also boasts a Pleasure Garden, a Walled Garden, a maze, a dovecot, and a medieval church. It was opened to the public starting in July of 1948, you should really go, you won’t be disappointed.