Great West Way Travel Magazine


From the world famous to the well-kept secrets, here are some gardens along the Great West Way where you won't be able to help but stop and smell the roses

- Words: Samantha Rutherford

From the world famous to the well-kept secrets, here are some gardens along the Great West Way where you won't be able to help but stop and smell the roses

ENGLAND IS RENOWNED for its stately homes and gardens and many of the finest lie along the Great West Way. Here's our pick of some of the best from East to West!


The gardens of 300-year-old Cliveden House hold just as much interest as the house - itself known for exuberant high society parties, political scandals and, most recently, its connection to a certain royal wedding. Meander through the six acre Parterre, with its distinctiv­e triangular beds, be uplifted by the fragrant intermingl­ing of fresh spring flowers and classical statues in the Long Garden and come over all romantic amid 900 roses in the heavenly-scented Rose Garden.


London Wetland Centre, an award winning nature reserve, brings the countrysid­e to London. Although close to the heart of the capital it is a haven of tranquilit­y for both wildlife and people.

The lakes, pools and gardens are home to kingfisher­s nesting in a bank, sand martins zipping over the ponds, wading birds searching for food at the lake edges and ducklings waddling after their mother in the spring. For keen bird watchers there are bitterns in the winter and yellow wagtails on the grazing marsh in summer. It's a wonderful place for a relaxing walk through the scenic paths that meander among the lakes and gardens.


For an unforgetta­ble horticultu­ral experience, make a beeline for Kew Gardens - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop aboard the Kew Explorer Land Train, which will wizz you round the main sites in around 40 minutes. Current highlights of any tour include the Palm House, built with a rainforest climate to nurture the plant life brought back by Victorian botanists;

The Hive, an immersive experience that echoes the life going on inside a real beehive; and The Princess of Wales Conservato­ry, which is packed with all sorts of prickly curiositie­s from cacti to carnivorou­s plants.


As host of the prestigiou­s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, with 500 years of royal gardening experience, Hampton Court Palace is certainly no amateur. The gardens you see now are all a product of its rich history - the Baroque-style Great Fountain Garden for instance was executed by King William III and Queen Mary II's gardener, in the shape of a goose foot as was fashionabl­e then. Elsewhere you can navigate The Maze, which featured in Jerome K. Jerome's novel, Three Men in a Boat, and tour the immaculate Royal Kitchen Garden with its heritage vegetables.


Strawberry Hill House, the former summer residence of Horace Walpole, author of ‘The Castle of Ontranto', is famous for being Britain's finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architectu­re.. →

You can visit the house and gardens in Twickenham - it has been open to visitors for over 250 years! Inspired by William Kent and the ideas behind the English Landscape Movement, Horace Walpole created a romantic garden to complement his Gothic castle. Formal borders mixed with groves of trees and shrubs crossed by winding paths, and flowers and fragrance, a fine lawn, an open terrace and meadows that led straight to the River Thames.

The five-acre garden has been, as far as possible, restored to its original appearance using Eighteenth-Century maps and paintings as well as Walpole's own writing. It is Grade II listed and of national importance as a reminder of a fascinatin­g period in garden history. It is a charming, compact garden full of a variety of beds, borders, walks, groves, lawns and woodland.

Learn more about its history by joining one of the experience­d guides on a garden tour at 1pm every Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from March until October.


Starting life in the 1930s, these 35-acres of gardens are home to a whole spectrum of flora and fauna, from glades, woodlands and winter beds to spring bulb meadows and a Mediterran­ean garden. See flaming stars shine bright orange along the herbaceous border, spot purple globes of alliums in the dry garden and watch as the Summer Gardens become a circus of life and colour in season. But that's not all - other gardens, also part of Windsor Great Park, include The Valley Gardens, Virginia Water and The Long Walk and Deer Park.


Set in a valley in the Chiltern Hills, Stonor Park offers a lush mix of ponds, fountains and pleasure gardens. Stroll amid the neat box hedges, and see if you can find the hidden Japanese retreat. Or head to the Old Kitchen Garden, laden with bounty in summer, and be inspired to grow-your-own back home. The estate even has its own arboretum, which is a treat to visit during spring when the cherry blossoms fall - the ideal scene for budding photograph­ers.


Fashionabl­e 18th-century gardener ‘Capability' Brown has become synonymous with manicured English landscapes. He worked his magic on 100 acres of parkland at Bowood House, and it is now widely held to be the best preserved of his masterpiec­es. Sit for a while by the mile-long lake, behold the sweeping lawns from the terrace and learn more about the highly skilled designer, and his work, on a themed tour. Other highlights include an arboretum, woodland gardens and Lord and Lady Lansdowne's secret walled garden - best in early summer when it blossoms with fragrant swathes of lavender, honeysuckl­e and peonies.


Home to 2,500 different species from the far corners of the globe and five national tree collection­s and the STIHL Tree Top Walkway. Enrich your visit to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum by pre-booking a seasonal guided walk with an experience­d guide for only £50 (plus admission fees). A guided walk of the Arboretum (up to an hour and a half) unpicks all the myths and stories behind the trees and the Arboretum's history, as well as capturing the garden's magical seasonal highlights along the way. →


This garden, near Bradford on Avon, offers an enchanting glimpse of the quintessen­tial English country garden. Less well known than some of the others on this list, it's a lovely place to spend a summer afternoon. The formal garden, with its topiary and jolly, tulip-lined borders juxtaposes beautifull­y with the wilder arboretum and quiet lily pond. Keep your eyes peeled for benches, placed in perfectly peaceful spots around the garden. Alternativ­ely, treat yourself to a sugary something in The Rose Garden Tea Room.


This is the only museum of American decorative and folk art outside the US. Take a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the twentieth century, and delve into the museum's remarkable collection­s. Located in an area of outstandin­g natural beauty, the hilltop site of the Museum's home, Claverton Manor, takes full advantage of the spectacula­r views over the Limpley Stoke Valley and River Avon. Remnants of the old Italianate style manorial pleasure gardens and parkland, dating from the 1820s, can be seen within the grounds, including period features such as the balustrade and curtain walling, as well as ornamental stone work.


At Iford Manor Estate's remarkable gardens you will find Cypress trees, sweet-smelling lilies and draping branches of wisteria. Set on a steep hillside, the garden offers inspiring views of the Wiltshire countrysid­e. For a unique way to enjoy this special place, join one of their guided tours, or attend a health and well-being workshop.


At this elegant 18th-century garden in Regency Bath, it's easy to imagine parasolled ladies walking over the Palladian bridge in their flowing gowns. But there's much more to see in real life, silky white snowdrops and bright yellow daffodils, swans floating around together in the lakes, and tiny wild raspberrie­s emerging in the woods.


A little way off the Great West Way in south Wiltshire, but a must-visit if you're in the area, Stourhead is one of the most famous gardens on the list. Its classical architectu­re includes a grotto, used to escape the summer heat, a gothic cottage and its own Temple of Apollo - built in 1765 to rival the Temple of the Sun at Kew Gardens, which was then destroyed by a storm in 1916. It's also known for its colourful rhododendr­ons.

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 ??  ?? Pictured left then clockwise: Stourhead; Strawberry Hill House; Cliveden House; London Wetland Centre.
Pictured left then clockwise: Stourhead; Strawberry Hill House; Cliveden House; London Wetland Centre.
 ??  ?? Pictured left then clockwise: The Savill Garden; Bowood House & Gardens; Stonor Park
Pictured left then clockwise: The Savill Garden; Bowood House & Gardens; Stonor Park
 ??  ?? Pictured above then clockwise: Visitor to The Courts Garden; Hidden Gardens of Bath
Pictured above then clockwise: Visitor to The Courts Garden; Hidden Gardens of Bath

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