Wolsey Lodges guide to the National Parks of the UK and Ireland
- Travel Guide
A History of Britain’s National Parks
Great Britain came late to National Parks. It was perhaps easier for other countries to create National…Read More
The French have cuisine. So do the Italians – and add a flair for art. But the vernacular art in Britain is our gardens and plants.
Since the 18th century a sense of landscape and beauty has been key to Britain’s sense of self-worth, and many Wolsey Lodges spend as much time on the gardens as they do on their homes.
And everyone benefits. Guests at Wolsey Lodges can relax in beautiful gardens that someone else has created, weeded, tended and nurtured. Their wheelbarrow weeks translate to nice places for you to enjoy. These are just some of the Wolsey Lodges who love their gardens – and where it shows.
Wolsey Lodge guests can also take advantage of their hosts’ local knowledge. People who look after their own gardens appreciate the best estates in their area. Just ask for advice to make your visit bloomin’ perfect.
It’s hard to single out individual lodges as so many Wolsey Lodges have fantastic gardens. Old Whyly in East Sussex springs into summer with rhododendrons, azaleas, daffodils and tulips creating a riot of colour. There is a lily scented terrace with a rose covered pergola and a neatly-hedged swimming pool draped with wisteria.
Head east to Norfolk and Manor House Farm opens every year for the National Gardens Scheme – and it is easy to see why. The four-acre garden offers a series of different spaces which surround the house on three sides. The unusual walled ‘Taj’ garden is a highlight; complete with formal carp pond, old fashioned roses and tree peonies. Leading away from the house is a fragrant tunnel of roses with a pleached lime walk beyond. Elsewhere in the garden a small arboretum has been planted with unusual specimen trees and a ‘hot’ gravel garden has been created. Beyond the formal gardens are Libby’s hens and guinea fowl with Robin’s unusual pair of rhea sharing a paddock with a small group of Formosan Sika Deer.
Up in Scotland Greenhead Farm opens its gardens regularly under the National Gardens Scheme. The main gardens are to the front of the house, but they also include a croquet lawn, fruit trees and a vegetable garden which provides many of the ingredients that might appear later on your plate. The whole thing is surrounded by 540 acres of Glenrothes farmland so it’s wonderfully rural and remote
Down across the English border and Broadgate House is one of the very few Lake District properties that also has a view of the sea but the two-acre gardens are nearer and far more impresssive. In spring rhododendrons and azaleas explode with colour around the front of the house, but the gardens slope off across several levels and are divided into ‘rooms’, each with a character all of its own.
South to Wales and Firgrove House near Ruthin has an award-winning garden – again open under the National Garden Scheme – with fantastic views of the Vale of Clwyd and the Clwydian Range, itself an AONB. The house itself is Grade II listed but the gardens are a blend of exotic, colourful and inspired planting.
South again to Wiltshire and Priory Steps in Bradford-on-Avon has a garden that makes up in variety for what it cannot have in size. Spreading across two levels facing south over the town – and with fantastic views – the garden is a constant blaze of colour, with a magnificently trained grape vine rising right up the property’s three floors.
Cornwall’s warm microclimate makes it irresistible for gardeners: that’s why the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan are such popular attractions. But you can stay in your own garden retreat at Tregoose on the Roseland Peninusla. The garden at Tregoose, which is open to the public, is Alison’s first love. She has restored it meticulously over the last twenty years. It contains many rare and interesting plants and shrubs, mature trees and typically Cornish camellias and rhododendrons, including the unmissable 40-foot ‘Cornish Red’. There is a sunken, herbaceous walled garden (containing a fine Acacia baileyana purpurea), a croquet lawn available for guests’ use, overlooked by a handsome tulip tree and eucryphia, and a kitchen garden potager, which provides flowers for bedrooms and vegetables for dinners.
Track east to the Oxforshire countryside and Uplands House is an award-winning B&B that is perfect for garden lovers. Spring brings carpets of snowdrops, daffodils, later clouds of pink and white cherry blossoms are everywhere and the magnificent wisteria covers two walls of the house. In May a huge old philadelphus and several lilacs fill the air with scent. Containers from the famous local Whichford Pottery are full of tulips in Spring and then geraniums follow on. High Summer at Uplands is marked by the perfume of Casa Blanca lillies in the evening. The rose garden is a perfect joy with its lily pond, fountain and stream; many of the famous scented varieties are over 90 years old. A large flat lawn in the main part of the garden is suitable for croquet. Elsewhere roses, hedges of lavender and tangles of clematis and honeysuckle provide a haven for wild birds.
For many Wolsey Lodges their gardens are an intrinsic part of their appeal: this feature only includes some of them, not by any means all. Some come with acres of land, others don’t, but many lodge owners lavish hours every day even on modest gardens to ensure they’re presented at their absolute best. The flowers provide riots of colour and wonderful scents, and there are always plenty of vantage points to sit for a while, relax, and take it all in. Above I’ve featured just some of the Wolsey Lodges known for their grounds. In this staycation year, take the opportunity to spend some time in a Wolsey Lodge garden.