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1 LEVENS HALL - 1690s

The world-fa­mous top­i­ary dis­plays at Levens Hall in the English Lake Dis­trict have been largely un­changed since the gar­den was laid out in the 1690's and are the best 17th cen­tury gar­dens in Eng­land. There are more than 90 pieces of top­i­ary, un­der-planted with thou­sands of colour­ful an­nu­als. The ec­cen­tric shapes, along with the rose gar­den, foun­tain gar­den, nut­tery and herba­ceous bor­ders are care­fully man­aged by head gar­dener, Chris Crow­der, who is just the tenth in the job in over 300 years!

2 STOURHEAD – 1730s

City banker, Henry Hoare be­gan the devel­op­ment of this stun­ning gar­den in 1735. He dammed the River Stour to make a sin­u­ous lake and, around the lake's shores, he ar­ranged paths, tem­ples, urns, a shiv­ery grotto and a great wealth of trees. It be­came one of the best-known gar­dens in Eng­land in the 18th cen­tury when ‘po­lite so­ci­ety' made gar­den-visit­ing a fash­ion­able ac­tiv­ity. To­day, it re­mains one of the finest English land­scape gar­dens.

3 BOWOOD HOUSE – 1760s

Bowood has been home to the Lans­downe fam­ily for over 260 years and car­ries with it a rich and fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory. ‘Ca­pa­bil­ity' Brown created the land­scape and stun­ning lake at Bowood over five years be­tween 1763 and 1768. It is one of the best and most un­spoilt ex­am­ples of his fa­mous work. There are 100 acres of plea­sure grounds, in­clud­ing an ar­bore­tum, cas­cade, Doric tem­ple, Her­mit's Cave and the lake it­self.


Bid­dulph Grange is Bri­tain's best sur­viv­ing Vic­to­rian gar­den which is both the­atri­cal and revo­lu­tion­ary for its time. James Bate­man de­vel­oped the steeply slop­ing gar­dens around Bid­dulph Grange into ter­races, pop­u­lated with spec­i­mens from all over the world that plant hun­ters gath­ered on his be­half. Vis­i­tors are taken on a minia­ture tour of the world in­clud­ing China, Egypt and a Scot­tish Glen. It is as quirky to­day as it was for his Vic­to­rian guests.


The gar­dens at Gravetye Manor in Sus­sex's High Weald are be con­sid­ered amongst the most in­flu­en­tial in English gar­den­ing his­tory. The manor be­came the home of the cre­ative, in­no­va­tive and revo­lu­tion­ary gar­dener, Wil­liam Robin­son, in 1884. Robin­son spent his re­mark­able life as a pro­fes­sional gar­dener and botanist but made his for­tune through writ­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ences and ideas on hor­ti­cul­ture. His most no­table works in­clude The English Flower Gar­den - one of the best-sell­ing hor­ti­cul­tural books of all time - and the hugely in­flu­en­tial ti­tle, The Wild Gar­den. Con­verted to a bou­tique ho­tel in 2010, the gar­dens at Gravetye are un­der the ex­pert care of Tom Cow­ard, head gar­dener.

6 HESTER­COMBE – 1910s

De­signed just be­fore WWI, Hester­combe, in the beau­ti­ful Som­er­set coun­try­side just out­side of Taun­ton, con­tains one of the great mas­ter­pieces of the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ar­chi­tect, Ed­win Lu­tyens and gar­den de­signer, Gertrude Jekyll. The gar­den, on three lev­els, fea­tures beau­ti­ful for­mal stonework, with Lu­tyens' seats, steps, per­go­las, pools and iris-fringed rills fed by high wa­ter-spout­ing masks. It is pure en­chant­ment. The whole gar­den is planted with Jekyll's in­spired com­bi­na­tions of colour and form, from records in her own hand, which sur­vived, pinned up in the pot­ting shed.

7 HID­COTE MANOR GAR­DENS – 1920s In 1907 when Amer­i­can, Ma­jor Lawrence John­ston first ac­quired the prop­erty at Hid­cote, there was no gar­den at all, just a few fine trees. It has been said that it must have taken im­mense op­ti­mism, imag­i­na­tion, skill and en­ergy, not to men­tion fore­sight, to cre­ate the mag­nif­i­cent gar­den which is Hid­cote to­day. Many, many gar­dens, not least Siss­inghurst Cas­tle, have been in­spired by the se­ries of gar­den ‘rooms' de­signed by Ma­jor John­ston in the Cotswolds Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty.

8 GREAT DIX­TER - 1960s Great Dix­ter, the East Sus­sex gar­den of the late Christo­pher Lloyd, au­thor, colum­nist and lec­turer on gar­den plants and de­sign, is an ex­am­ple of cot­tage gar­den­ing on a grand scale. The gar­den is com­posed of a se­ries of small gar­dens in­clud­ing a fine top­i­ary gar­den, ex­otic gar­den, kitchen gar­den – an at­trac­tive min­gling of veg­eta­bles and flow­ers – a large or­chard with a sea of wild flow­ers and a mag­nif­i­cent herba­ceous bor­der in sum­mer, truly a joy for any gar­dener to visit. The gar­dens to­day re­flect the care­fully con­trived plant­ing prin­ci­ples of Christo­pher Lloyd, which have been en­thu­si­as­ti­cally taken for­ward in Christo's style by his head gar­dener Fer­gus Gar­rett.

9 THE EDEN PRO­JECT – 1990s Con­structed in a 35-acre crater which was pre­vi­ously a gi­gan­tic china clay pit in Corn­wall, the Eden Pro­ject claims to have the largest green­houses in the world: gi­ant ge­o­desic struc­tures which house the Rain­for­est Biome and the Mediter­ranean Biome. All around is in­spir­ing out­door plant­ing with an on-site ho­tel open­ing in 2020. The fun­da­men­tal mes­sage here is about sus­tain­abil­ity and man's re­la­tion­ship with, and de­pen­dence upon, plants.

10 TREN­THAM – 2004 De­scribed as “the gar­den make-over of the decade”, the gar­dens at Tren­tham have ben­e­fit­ted from the ex­per­tise and skill of great mod­ern gar­den de­sign­ers such as Tom Stu­art Smith, Piet Ou­dolf and Nigel Dun­nett. Util­is­ing the won­der­ful his­toric fea­tures such as Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown's lake and Sir Charles Barry's parterre, the new de­sign fea­tures in­no­va­tive and con­tem­po­rary plant­ing which is set­ting the trend for the next gen­er­a­tion of English gar­dens.

sis­ - There is no bet­ter way to ex­pe­ri­ence the iconic gar­dens of Eng­land than with Sis­ley Gar­den Tours – the UK’S lead­ing gar­den tour spe­cial­ists with ex­pert guides, ex­clu­sive vis­its, small groups, a re­laxed pace, high-end ho­tels and su­perb ser­vice.







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