Britain is a nation of gardeners. And even if we don't have our own personal gardens to tend, it's fair to say we're all fans of public gardens, parks, woodlands and other green open spaces that delight the senses and provide us with so much enjoyment. Here are five of our favourite gardens to escape to:
Probably the UK's best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts garden, Hidcote Manor Gardens was created by Major Lawrence Johnston, a talented American horticulturist, in the early 20th century. This ornate garden in the Cotswolds is arranged around a series of outdoor "rooms" linked via narrow paved pathways. It erupts into beautiful colour during the spring months when the bedding plants come into bloom, so now's an ideal time to visit.
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This National Trust property is best known for its stunning Palladian House dating from the mid-18th century, but it's the manicured landscaped garden, complete with majestic lake, that attracts visitors far and wide. Renowned for its particular beauty in autumn (all that burnt orange and gold foliage reflected in still, dark waters), we think it's under-appreciated in spring, when the deciduous trees become clothed in new greenery and colourful blooms - including magnolia, rhododendron, camellia and daffodils - emerge.
To find out more, visit the Stourhead, National Trust website.
This 200-acre informal woodland garden in the New Forest National Park erupts into a riot of reds and pinks in spring thanks to its world-famous collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. Created by Lionel Nathan de Rothschild in the early 20th century, the garden enjoys a world-famous reputation as being one of the finest examples of its type in the UK. It includes a daffodil meadow, Japanese garden, a hydrangea walk, rock garden, iris garden and sundial garden, as well as a 1.5mile-long narrow-gauge railway that passes through the Summer Lane Garden featuring huge swathes of colourful perennials, flowering grasses, a pool and maturing trees.
To find out more, visit the Exbury Gardens website.
Most people will know Buscot Park as the home of the Faringdon Collection, one of the finest art collections in the country. But it's also home to a beautifully laid out pleasure garden and mature woodlands with tree-lined avenues. This enchanting English parkland landscape features a walled garden, which was once an 18th century kitchen garden that has now been transformed into an octagon-shaped ornamental garden. The highlight, however, is the formal and rather splendid Italianate water garden designed by the British architect and garden designer Harold Peto.
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These historic gardens, at the foot of the South Downs, are a labour of love by husband and wife team Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain. Over the past 25 years, this gardening duo has transformed West Dean into an award-winning garden of international renown, revitalising a 19th century landscape that had been ruined by the Great Storms of 1987. Many heritage elements have been given a new lease of life, including a 100m long Edwardian pergola, a walled kitchen garden, a sunken garden and an impressive collection of 13 Victorian glasshouses.
To find out more, visit the West Dean Gardens website.