Super Surrey Spring Gardens

April is such a magical time of year!  It’s quite simply awe inspiring to see the landscape being painted by mother nature in every beautiful shade of green, as more leaves unfurl and the view becomes ever greener each day.  I love to be outside, surrounded by the birds singing and bees buzzing.  On warm days you may see butterflies flying: look out for the green toned Brimstone butterfly this month.  Whether you’re looking for inspiration, a family day out, a beautiful place for a walk or a run, or an opportunity to unwind this month, I am sure you’ll find everything you wish for in these beautiful gardens.

Did you watch the recently filmed mini-series of Howards End, which was broadcast on the BBC at the end of last year?  Vann, a privately-owned house and Arts and Crafts garden, near Godalming, was used as the location for Howards End.  Vann occupies a charming location, it’s nestled in amongst beech and oak woodland, and is surrounded by fields.  The gardens at Vann extend to five acres, they feature a truly magical Water Garden, which was designed by Gertrude Jekyll and is a pure delight!   A natural stream has been cleverly engineered to flow into the rill, down to the lake, via a series of ponds and into the Water Garden.  This area is utterly enchanting and was planted by Gertrude Jekyll herself in 1911, with shuttlecock ferns, Solomon’s Seal, and a multitude of spreading bog and water plants including: Trachystemons, Peltiphyllums, Rodgersias, and Calthas, which have endured creating a naturalistic, lushly planted paradise.

The name Vann comes from the words venne or fenne, meaning bog.  The snakeshead fritillaries, which Gertrude Jekyll planted have now spread and naturalised, they simply relish this dewy ground.  Gertrude Jekyll planned much of the planting at Vann.  Over the years some of this planting has evolved, newer cultivars have replaced a number of the older more invasive or less floriferous plants, but this garden is still undoubtedly a Gertrude Jekyll garden.  Visitors can admire the vertical Yew Walk, with its central rill and twin borders filled with Crocus, Pulmonarias, and Erysimums.  There’s even a topiary cat, chasing after a topiary mouse!

Vann is particularly charming in springtime, its naturalised plantings of daffodils and snakeshead fritillaries epitomise the joy and wonder of spring.  Wildflowers, Cowslips, and forget-me-knots only serve to add to the dreaminess of this delightful spring garden, increasing this garden’s loveliness.

Vann is opening to the public from Sunday 15th April 2018 until Wednesday 18th April 2018, opening from 10am until 6pm each day.  Vann is also open every Wednesday from the 1st April 2018 to the 30th June 2018.  Don’t miss your chance to see this classically beautiful, naturalistic garden as its spring glory reveals itself.

Dunsborough Park in Ripley boasts a glorious 100 acres of grounds, which feature a spectacular Tulip Meadow, the Dutch Garden a productive cut flower garden, a tranquil Italian Garden, a beautiful white garden, and the Water Garden with its charming folly bridge.  The gardens and grounds at Dunsborough Park were originally laid out in the eighteenth century, the gardens continued to be added to over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and have been restored and adapted by the gardens’ current owners.  Dunsborough Park features borders which have undergone restoration work designed by Penelope Hobhouse, with later re-workings made by Rupert Golby.  The older walled garden was remodelled with divisions to create garden rooms, which were designed by Simon Johnson.

The Tulip Meadow will deliver the wow factor at Dunsborough Park this April, but visitors will undoubtedly be impressed by the gardens’ enchanting folly bridge, the 70ft Ginkgo hedge, espalier trained fruit trees, and daffodils, alongside the garden owners’ collection of garden statues, sculptures, and ornaments.

Dunsborough Park is a privately-owned house and garden, it will be opening to the public from 11.30am until 3pm, on Saturday 14th April 2018, Thursday 19th April 2018, Saturday 21st April 2018, and Saturday 28th April 2018.

RHS Garden Wisley.

The Glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley.

Improvement works continue in earnest at RHS Garden Wisley, so the gardens may look quite different depending on when you last visited.  I love to visit the Alpine House at Wisley in spring time, where you can get to know many charming, dainty alpine flowers.  The plants on display are tended to daily and changed frequently, so you’ll always find a new favourite flower here!  The orchard at Wisley is full of pretty apple, pear, and cherry blossom in springtime, which is complimented by spring flowering bulbs, while Battleston Hill is ablaze with the colour of Camellia, Magnolia, Rhododendron, and Azalea blooms.

Bluebells at Winkworth Aboretum in Godalming.

Do ensure that you plan at least one visit to Winkworth Arboretum in Godalming this April to enjoy their magnificent display of bluebells, which carpet the woodland at this National Trust gem.  Listen out for call of the male cuckoo, or a woodpecker drilling, as you explore this woodland spring paradise.  Birdwatchers can look out for Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Little Grebes, and Common Sandpipers at Winkworth, and on warm days brimstone, orange tip, speckled wood, small copper butterflies, and white butterflies can be spotted in the arboretum.

There are many trees to admire at Winkworth, in April there is always a Magnolia in bloom.  Magnolia Kobus, a Magnolia species that originates from Japan, produces a spectacular display of six petalled, snowy white flowers, which are touched with the most delicate tinges of pink.   Wild garlic grows in profusion at Winkworth, as does my favourite, greater stitchwort and many other beautiful wildflowers.

The attractions I have recommended so far are not ideal venues for the disabled visitor: much of the ground at Winkworth Arboretum is very steep and uneven, and although Wisley has improved some of its paths, it is not the most accessible of gardens.  However, if you venture a little further, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are a dream come true for all garden visitors!  The paths at Kew are wide, flat, and smooth, they’re easy to both travel or walk over, ideal for wheelchairs or buggies, easier and smoother both for the passengers, and for those pushing them!  A visit to Kew allows disabled visitors the opportunity to appreciate the gardens alongside their friends and family, rather than having to stay behind or rushing on ahead, as is so often the case when visiting gardens with narrower pathways.

The gardens at Kew extend to three hundred acres, they are a delight to visit at any time of year.  In springtime Kew’s Cherry Walk delights visitors with a profusion of pink and white cherry blossom trees.  There are at least two hundred and fifty Magnolias at Kew, this is a great time to admire these magnificent trees, as well as to delight in daffodil, tulip, lilac, and Wisteria flowers.

A beautiful Magnolia at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew.

From Friday 30 March 2018 to Sunday 15 April 2018, younger visitors can take part in A big day out with Peter Rabbit™ at Kew Gardens with activities based on the tales by Beatrix Potter, focusing on edible plants.

The gardens at Loseley Park are full of inspiration.

Although the Walled Garden at Loseley Park is not open until 1st May 2018, the Spring Garden Show takes place at Loseley on Friday 20th April 2018, Saturday 21st April 2018, and Sunday 22nd April 2018, providing a lovely opportunity to visit the gardens at Loseley in springtime.

I love to visit Loseley Park!  The planting is beautiful and the gardens are inspiring and uplifting.  Loseley has a magnificent herb garden, with a glorious array of herbs and healing plants.  The White Garden is delightful, it’s has a decedent, sophisticated, yet romantic feel, while the vegetable garden is both productive and beautiful.

The gardens at Loseley Park really are wonderful!  Loseley’s gardens are mostly level, their pathways are firm with a thin layer of gravel covering their paths, although the paths aren’t perfectly smooth, the gravel isn’t deep, so they are very accessible for wheelchair users.

Loseley Park is a very special place and a delight to visit at any time of year.

This article was first published in the April 2018 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

Other articles that may interest you………………

To read about magnificent bluebells woods and gardens to visit, please click here.

To read about magnificent gardens to visit in Surrey, Hampshire, and West Sussex, please click here.

To read about daffodil gardens and events for 2018, please click here.

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