Thursday, 24 January 2013

National Trust Gardens to revisit and discover in 2013

I received the new National Trust book and magazine in the post this morning, which is always exciting! After fighting over the car sticker, (I always win!), hub and I scan the book to see what’s new, making a mental list of what properties we should visit this year. I can’t remember how long I have been a member of the National Trust but it’s a very long time and the only regret I have, is that I should have taken the ‘Life Long’ membership for about £400 when it was offered way back when!

I never tire of the Trust’s gardens and regularly visit local properties, which have become like old friends and part of the extended Mel Smith estate!,
 Hanbury Hall , Packwood House  and Dudmaston are great for walks and garden visits. I have watched with great pleasure and admiration the reconstruction of Hanbury’s laid out parterres, sauntered through Packwood’s clipped yews, which have great presence, so much so that I imagine they might come to life and dance around the garden at night! Dudmaston has so much to offer both inside and out, the great modern art collection and the lovely walks. My first priority for a visit here this year will be the Dingle Snowdrop walk, which is lovely.

I have been truly inspired by the National Trust gardens that I have visited over the years; offering an inordinate variety of historic styles, quirky designs and copious plant collections, that delight the senses. So heavily impressed are they in my subconscious, I’m certain that any garden I design will have a bit of National Trust in there somewhere!

Packwood House Yews 

Here are a few of my favourites;

We were truly spoilt with the amount of choice on our long weekend garden tour of Kent and East Sussex. Sissinghurst Garden, Great Dixter (not NT), Batemans, Nymans, Petworh House, Bodiam Castle, Ightham Mote (Chartwell and Quebec House on the way back home) were all paid a visit.

I think that Sissinghurst was my favourite, however, Great Dixter was a very close second. Vita Sackville-West’s serene white garden is a real contrast to the explosive colour-packed borders of Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. At Sissinghurst I loved the use of hedges to create rooms and to add order to the chaos of the herbaceous planting and the use of planters to create focal points.

Sissinghurst - Planter
Sissinghurst - White Garden

Sissinghurst - Planter 
Sissinghurst - View from above 

Coleton Fishacre 

This garden is a wonderful bonus to a fantastic house! its intimate 30’s style gardens, near the property, showcase tender exotic planting and expand downwards through a glade taking you on a magical journey though a fantastic selection of trees and shrubs that lead to fantastic costal views.

Coleton Fishacre - House and border

Coleton Fishacre - View to sea

Westbury Court Garden

I love the formal layout of this Dutch water garden. A beautifully designed and unique pavillion forms the anchor to elegant canals lined with clipped hedges.


Who could fail to love this place - made up of a series of garden rooms all with their own distinct feel, which are yours to discover and revel in. I would like to visit this garden in winter to try to better understand the complex structure of the space.

Hidcote - Statue 
Hidcote - Herbaceous border
Hidcote - House and border

Powys Castle 

One of my faves, I love to slowly walk along the Italian style terraces overhung with organically clipped Yews, statues and fantastic views across the garden and beyond into the welsh countryside.
Powys - Statue and Yews

Must see in 2013

Biddulph Grange Garden – a long awaited re-visit 

This eccentric Victorian garden has an eclectic mix of gardening styles from all over the world and is a wonder to behold. I would like to take inspiration from the Chinese garden; re-familiarise myself with its temple, bridge and the plant specimens. I am in the formative stages of a major project creating a Chinese Garden so therefore this is top-most must see for 2013! 

Buscot Park 

This handsome Georgian stately home has extensive gardens which boast glorious contemporary and classical water features. I am keen to see the new water feature ‘Faux Fall’ by David Harber, who’s metal stone and glass creations are a wonderful addition to any garden. 

Woolbeding Gardens

This modern, as in 20th century, garden looks temptingly interesting with its colour-themed garden rooms plus a landscaped garden which houses a Chinese-style bridge and waterfall. Maybe a weekend in West Sussex needs to be planned, as this will also help with my research of Chinese garden features. 

This sub-tropical garden near Falmouth has to be worth a visit if we can manage to squeeze a holiday in Cornwall this year. And in the words of Craig Revel-Horewood – it looks ‘A-Maze-ing’ Well there is a fantastic maze there!

For National Trust’s recommendations for their top winter Gardens to visit click here

I hope that you are inspired to visit a few of the gardens that I have highlighted in this blog and a big thank you to the National Trust for all the pleasure you have given me over the years!

Author Melanie Smith - Gardenplan Design 

No comments:

Post a Comment