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Recommending gardens to visit...or not!

(31 Posts)
merlotgran Wed 17-Aug-16 17:08:30

We've just got back from Barnsdale Gardens. We usually try to do two or three garden visits during the summer and as this one is only just over an hour from us it seemed a good bet especially as I loved Geoff Hamilton's Cottage Garden series.

What a disappointment! I know late August is not the time to see gardens at their best but most places take this into account and plan their planting to give plenty of colour and interest during high summer.

The plants all looked half dead with drought and the whole place was shabby and unkempt. You'd expect to see some staff out on the borders weeding or dead heading but we didn't see a single gardener the whole time we were there.

The small 'themed' gardens mostly contained the same plants - some of them decidedly out of place and apart from the Japanese Garden there was nothing of real interest.

Not a patch on The Old Vicarage at East Ruston.


kittylester Wed 17-Aug-16 17:45:17

I mentioned this a while ago in soop's kitchen, Merlot! I have been saying for ages that I would like to go but I thought it was appalling and would not recommend it at all.

Luckygirl Wed 17-Aug-16 17:51:00

Hergest Croft gardens in May - thousands of rhododendrons, some of them grown wild in the wood.

J52 Wed 17-Aug-16 17:51:45

Barnsdale used to be a favourite place to visit, when we had people staying. Last time we went a couple of years ago it was a bit down at heel, but we thought it was due to the wet spring.

It was at its Hayday when Geoff was alive and was not too bad for several years after his death.

annodomini Wed 17-Aug-16 17:57:33

Hare Hill Gardens near Macclesfield, NT property with spectacular rhododendrons and azaleas in May - June.

Pittcity Wed 17-Aug-16 18:07:31

Have you added and reviewed your favourite gardens on your local GN pages? It's a good way of helping others choose where to go.

Eloethan Wed 17-Aug-16 18:12:44

Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries & Galloway is beautiful - at least it was when we visited some 35 years ago - I expect it is even better now. It's in a lovely position too.

I believe the Beth Chatto Gardens near Colchester are very nice. I have been to the garden centre there which is good but it was winter and much too cold to walk round the garden with my 95 year old mum.

chelseababy Wed 17-Aug-16 18:12:47

I've visited Barnsdale several times and loved it so it's sad to read how it is now,especially on the 20th anniversary of Geoff's death. It was recently featured on Gardeners'World

DaphneBroon Wed 17-Aug-16 18:41:22

Alnwick Garden is stunning, as is Wrest Park near us in Bedfordshire (English Heritage)

grannyqueenie Wed 17-Aug-16 18:59:25

RHS Harlow Carr near Harrogate looks good this week, the borders are beautiful but it'll start to flop soon so go quickly!

granjura Wed 17-Aug-16 19:14:34

We went to Barnsdale late May, and it was lovely - in fact we went twice in 2 days as both sets of visitors wanted to see it- did the circuit the other way round, and noticed lots of things we had missed first time. Lots of busy staff around, who were very happy to answer questions and find out if they didn't know- and very friendly staff in the shop.

So I am very surprised at your comment.

oldgoat Wed 17-Aug-16 19:19:02

Breezy Knees garden , five miles east of York at Warthill, has beds planted to give flowers throughout the summer season in 17 different gardens. Flat walking and much of it suitable for wheelchair users. Has a cafe with tables indoors and out but which is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Also has a nursery and RHS members enter free on Thursday and Friday. Closes end of September.

whitewave Wed 17-Aug-16 19:23:23

Oh what a shame. We went to Barnsdale in May about 4 years ago and it was delightful

whitewave Wed 17-Aug-16 19:24:35

The last garden we visited was Mottisfont Abbey in June last year - glorious

merlotgran Wed 17-Aug-16 19:39:55

Everywhere looks nice in May, granjura We got the impression that once the hard graft of spring/early summer is done the gardens are more or less left to fend for themselves.

Lack of staking/dead heading, tangled borders, plants at fronts of some borders flattened because they'd sprawled too far etc.

The shop staff were friendly but there were complaints about the long queue in the tea room.

merlotgran Wed 17-Aug-16 19:47:54

We were also surprised that they shoved in single plants willy nilly in some of the borders and some of them seemed out of place as though they just wanted somewhere to plant them. In one border they didn't even bother to label the plants properly. They'd either been bought from another nursery or were surplus from their own and the typical garden centre label - complete with price was just pushed in alongside the plant.

That's the kind of thing you'd expect from a novice gardener in their first home.

JessM Wed 17-Aug-16 20:09:41

In N Wales we have Bodnant - definitely one of the jewels in the NT crown. In spring and early summer. Its a big area with some steep paths so wear stout shoes. Huge rhododendron collection. If you come in laburnum arch season expect crowds. If you happen to be in Llandudno in the winter time, there is a nice winter garden in the flat upper area.
We also have NT Plas Newydd (great views of the mountains, across the Menai Strait). Again, it's on a steep slope (but probably golf trolley lift available - which is not the case in Bodnant).
Penrhyn Castle - fantastic snowdrops, hillsides covered in daffodils etc, at its best in spring. Some interesting trees and shrubs in collection.
Stowe near Buckingham, is awesome - huge landscape garden with "greek" temples etc dotted around the scenic acres. A good walk and don't expect flower beds. But another jewel in the NT crown - and an opportunity to see where Richard Branson went to school.
Waddeson Manor near Aylesbury (even if you don't want to go round the house and see the French furniture etc) is lovely. They always do an epic bedding display on the castle and sometimes have fantastic modern art exhibitions in the grounds (including in their very own art gallery). Amish Kapur, Gormley, Warhol... these I have seen in the past. This season's offering
Nearby another garden (spasmodic opening...) Ascott House. Interesting modern topiary. Daffodils.
And a tiny one - on the town square in Ollney - find the Cowper Museum (the home of the poet) and visit the back garden. Best garden shed. You can imagine the poet sitting in his shed having a quiet pipe, and jotting a few lines. Or chatting to his friend the vicar, who was so active in the anti-slavery movement.

Riverwalk Wed 17-Aug-16 20:17:48

I'd highly recommend the Chelsea Physic Garden


When you're done there, just along the same road is the Royal Hospital (home of the Chelsea Pensioners and Chelsea Flower Show). Much of the building, chapel, and grounds are open to the public.


Swanny Wed 17-Aug-16 20:40:28

How sad to hear of the disappointing visit to Geoff Hamilton's garden at Barnsdale - although I did see the 'tribute' visit on Gardener's World and thought it not a patch on it's previous splendour. Ok, so some years are better than others in the garden but for such a well-loved area I expected more attention and dedication from current gardeners sad

Pittcity Wed 17-Aug-16 20:52:18

Beth Chatto gardens have been recommended on Gransnet Local Colchester here

seacliff Wed 17-Aug-16 21:03:18

We've just been to RHS Hyde Hall near Chelmsford, I wanted to see their dry garden. It was a lovely place, but this time of year, many plants were past their best and it looked rather untidy, like most gardens this time of year. I will have to go there again in June to see the roses.

I also love The Old Vicarage Gardens East Ruston, Beths Chattos, and Great Dixter.

Jalima Wed 17-Aug-16 21:09:58

NT gardens are usually lovely and well cared for. and are usually well cared for by professional gardeners and enthusiastic volunteers. The vegetable gardens are always lovely too.

Also RHS gardens:

and many private gardens which open under the National Garden s Scheme which open for charity.

What a disappointment, merlotgran

Jalima Wed 17-Aug-16 21:10:52

Oh dear seacliff, that was a disappointment too, I am surprised.

merlotgran Wed 17-Aug-16 21:16:11

Hyde Hall suffers from being situated in the driest and windiest part of England. We've been many times and once or twice we've commented on things looking a bit sparse but generally everything is very well maintained.

We're goint to Anglesey Abbey (National Trust) near Cambridge next week. DH loves the water mill. The gardens are lovely and very well maintained.

seacliff Wed 17-Aug-16 21:22:41

It's OK Jalima, I wasn't disappointed, generally the gardens were still wonderful. Just that the some borders were past their best.

There was a sculpture exhibition amongst all the shrubs too, so it is still worth a visit. They had lots of activities for children too,(some free) if anyone wants to amuse the grandchildren.

I must try and visit some other RHS gardens, only been to Wisley.

I think Beth Chattos garden looks good most of the year, she has a lot of greenery, not all flowers, so it doesn't suffer so much in late summer.