Amy Moore details some great garden attractions for groups.
CASTLE HILL GARDENS, DEVON
Castle Hill Gardens is set amongst the rolling hills of North Devon, boasting vibrant views of the surrounding countryside, punctuated by statues, follies and rivers. Located near Barnstaple, the sham Castle is neatly perched on a high hill behind the house, spanning views of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Lundy Island. Castle Hill is perfect for families and gardeners alike, from the magnificent Walled Garden to the elegant Millennium Garden.
Far reaching views to the Triumphal Arch and the recently restored 18th century Holwell Temple are available from the formal grass terraces to the front of the house. From here, groups can make their way along an etched path into the triumphant Woodland Gardens, where they will find the beautiful Satyr’s Temple placed alongside Ugley Bridge. There are many interesting plants surrounding the area, including camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas and eucryphias. Groups could choose to visit the Garden kiosk for locally sourced cream tea and cake. Teas and lunches are served in the West Wing and are available to book for groups of more than 20 people. House tours are available on a pre-booked basis only and are available for parties of 20 people plus. To book call 01598 760336, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.castlehilldevon.co.uk
EDEN PROJECT, CORNWALL
Eden Project is a charitable destination that carries out extensive research into plants and conservation, whilst creating unforgettable learning experiences and organizing outreach. Eden Project officially opened to the public on March 17, 2001, and was constructed on a 160-year-old china clay quarry in rural Cornwall. It is established as one of the Landmark Millennium Projects. Most recognizable are the gigantic Biomes that dominate the landscape. The Rainforest Biome especially, measures twice as high as Big Ben, and is home to over 1,000 different plant species. Parties of 10 or more arriving by car/coach can benefit from discounted entry when pre-booked, with guided tours available at an additional cost. Booking includes free entry for the coach driver (plus a £10 catering voucher), free coach parking and dedicated drop-off points, and a free coach wash. It is recommended that groups allow a minimum of four and half hours to explore. To book contact Carol, Groups Coordinator at Eden Project, on 01726 811903 or email cbarrett@edenproject. com. For more information visit www.edenproject.com
SYON HOUSE & GARDENS, LONDON
Syon House & Gardens boasts the spectacular home of the Duke of Northumberland, which has been built on the site of the late, medieval Syon Abbey. Landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the mid-18th century, 200-acres of pretty parkland surrounds the estate. 40-acres of gorgeous garden greenery is accredited to an extensive collection of rare trees and plants, featuring a luscious lake overlooked by Flora’s Column.
Distant views across water meadows provide Syon House & Gardens with a unique rural landscape, which is still grazed by cattle. The spectacular Great Conservatory provides a somewhat characteristic centerpiece, designed by Charles Fowler in the 1820s. It currently stands as one of the most important garden buildings in the country, making it a splendid venue for private functions. Advance booking is essential for groups wishing to visit, with specialized entry rates available for groups of 25 plus – including a free guided tour. School groups are also catered for, with prices starting from £2.00 per child for a Gardens & Great Conservatory Tour. To book call 020 8560 0882 or email email@example.com. For more information visit www.syonpark.co.uk
THE SAVILL GARDEN, SURREY
The Savill Garden is embedded into Windsor Great Park, where visitors are invited to journey through 35-acres of interconnecting, exotic woodland. Each compartment houses its own unique flavour, featuring a distinctive group of plants sourced from all over the world. Sir Eric Savill created The Savill Garden in the 1930s. The Rose Garden is the attraction’s latest edition, opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010. The Rose Garden houses a vast collection of 2,500 roses, including a rose named ‘Queen Mother.’ Designed by Andrew Wilson, The Rose Garden allows visitors to wander around rose beds at their leisure or take in the scents from a central elevated walkway. Groups of 10 or more could receive a reduced rate of £8 between March and November. There is plenty to see at The Savill Garden throughout the year, including stunning views of Spring Wood, the vibrant herbaceous borders in the summer or perhaps perch at a peaceful spot under an old oak tree. To book call 0845 603 6228 or email groups@ theroyallandscape.co.uk. For more information visit www.theroyallandscape.co.uk
CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN, LONDON
Chelsea Physic Garden is an independent-run charity that houses the oldest botanic garden in London. Following its foundation in 1673, Chelsea Physic Garden was used to study the medicinal qualities of plants. It currently houses a large living collection of approximately 5,000 edible, medicinal and historical plants. Chelsea Physic Garden also features the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain and the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree.
Groups are welcomed to Chelsea Physic Garden between Tuesday and Friday throughout April and October, with two time slots available per day at 1100hrs and 1300hrs. An expert guide can accompany groups at a small cost, with tours estimated to take one hour. Attractions nearby include Cadogan Hall, Natural History Museum and the Saatchi Gallery. To book call 020 7352 5646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
CAPESTHORNE HALL, CHESHIRE
Capesthorne Hall is surrounded by woodland wildlife, pretty parkland and formal garden scenery. Most characteristic are the Milanese Gates located opposite the Chapel, which stand adjacent to a generous chain of lakes. Capesthorne Hall has been home to the Bromley Davenports since 1726, with its vibrant gardens featuring an eclectic mix of colourful perennials and unusual 18th century plants, maples and cherry trees. Out-of-hours tours of Capesthorne Hall can be booked in advance for groups of 40 or more, with admission to the luxurious Gardens and family Chapel included. Capesthorne Hall is open to visitors annually between April and October. Capesthorne Hall is a real treat for groups as it blooms with natural beauty, offering glimpses into the remains of the iconic Ice House, the Old Boat House and the Swallow Hole. To book call Christine Mountney on 01625 861221 or email email@example.com. For more information visit www.capesthorne.com
CASTLE HOWARD, YORKSHIRE
Castle Howard is a magnificent 18th century mansion house in North Yorkshire, surrounded by 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape scenery. Groups can explore the estate’s idyllic gardens, known for their annual displays of daffodils, rhododendrons, bluebells and roses. The Walled Garden was formerly used to grow goods for the kitchen and has since become a thriving bed of roses, dedicated to the memory of Lady Cecilia Howard. Castle Howard’s surrounding grounds house around 2,000 roses in total, making it one of England’s most comprehensive collections.
Ray Wood provides a pleasant pastime, with an intertwining network of paths that trace a fine collection of rhododendrons. Many of the trees, shrubs and flowers featured are the original introductions gathered by plant-hunters of the 19th and 20th centuries. Ornamental water features are another scenic highlight of the gorgeous grounds and gardens at Castle Howard, with the dramatic Atlas Fountain visible from most viewing points in the house. Individuals can join free daily garden tours, which run hourly between 1100hrs and 1500hrs from March to October.
Groups can receive discounted rates on a pre-booked party of 12 or more. Garden tours for groups can be tailored to particular interests and/or be led by an experienced guide. To book call the Group Reservation Team on 01653 848621 or email groups@ castlehoward.co.uk. For more information visit www.castlehoward.co.uk
WYNDCLIFFE COURT GARDENS, WALES
Wyndcliffe Court Gardens first opened to the public in May 2013, and features a stunning historical Grade-II listed building backdrop, which has been designed in the typical ‘arts and crafts’ style. Beautiful, formal gardens provide pretty panoramic views to the south and east, showcasing seasonal sculptures by contemporary artists. Wyndcliffe Court Gardens were designed by H Avray Tipping – the former Editor of Country Life Magazine – and were completed in 1922. Structured by a series of separate spaces, Wyndcliffe Court Gardens feature a neatly sculpted topiary, a small summerhouse, lily ponds and a lengthy bowling lawn leading onto wooden walks. Wyndcliffe Court Gardens has been laid out on a slope, with a stone-paved side terrace running the full length of the house. Combine a visit to Wyndcliffe Court Gardens with a trip to Tintern Abbey, located five minutes away, or alternatively include in an itinerary to Cardiff, which is 30 miles away. Wyndcliffe Court Gardens will reopen during its Spring Sculpture Show on April 3, 2015. To book call 01291 621242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.wyndcliffecourt.co.uk
THIRLESTANE CASTLE, SCOTLAND
Thirlestane Castle is a stunning 16th century building surrounded by a spacious meadow landscape, nestled within an idyllic segment of the Scottish borders near Lauder. Thirlestane Castle is the former family home of the Duke of Lauderdale and is considered one of the oldest and finest castles in Scotland. The pretty estate is situated a short distance from the town of Lauder and is an ideal location for outdoor events, with a marquee erected in its Rose Garden. The area allocated can accommodate 2,000 plus guests. Thirlestane Castle is open to individuals and groups throughout the summer months, with tailored tours available. It is advised that touring groups allow at least an hour and a half to explore the grounds. Thirlestane Castle boasts easy access and onsite parking for coaches, with free entry and refreshment for the driver. Catering is available to book for a minimum of 20 people. Thirlestane Castle hosts a number of corporate events throughout the year, which must be booked in advance. To book call 01578 722430 or email email@example.com. For more information visit www.thirlestanecastle.co.uk