Five places to visit to see spring plants at their best.
If you're out and about visiting family and friends this Easter, try and squeeze in a visit to one of these gardens to find planting inspiration for the year ahead. In this selection you'll not only find great gardens to see incredible planting schemes but also recommended places to buy rare and usual plants to add new interest to your existing beds and borders.
Steeped in horticultural history, Gravetye Manor in West Sussex refuses to rest on its laurels. Over the past few years the gardens have been completely rejuvenated, and in spring it’s worth visiting for the impressive collection of bulbs, many of which date back to the time of former owner William Robinson, and the new plantings of tulips. Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, West ussex H19 4LJ. Tel 01342 810567, gravetyemanor.co.uk
If you really want see tulips, Pashley Manor Gardens on the Kent/East Sussex borders boasts 30,000 of them. The perfect place to choose next year’s plantings. Ticehurst, nr Wadhurst, East Sussex TN5 7HE. Tel 01580 200888, pashleymanorgardens.com
The Wisley Plant Centre at RHS Garden Wisley has become a destination in its own right. It holds diverse stocks of shrubs, roses, climbers, herbaceous plants, alpines and house plants – many are quite rare – and has a good selection of bedding and vegetable plants in spring. Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB. Tel 0845 260 9000, rhs.org.uk
Further north, Ness Botanic Gardens has a large collection of rhododendrons, camellias and other shrubs dating back to the Victorian heyday of plant hunting. University of Liverpool, Neston Road, Ness, Cheshire CH64 4AY. Tel 0151 795 6300, nessgardens.org.uk
Not too far from Ness, but over the border in Wales, is Bodnant Garden, which is also celebrated for its wonderful plantings of rhododendrons in a magical valley setting. Now is the perfect time to visit, as this month the gardens unvail a new area of woodland and a wildflower meadow. Tal-y-Cafn, nr Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL28 5RE. Tel 0344 800 1895, nationaltrust.org.uk
If you do venture to north Wales, Crûg Farm Plants is always worth a detour. It offers many tempting new introductions collected from the wild that can add an exciting edge to plantings. Griffith’s Crossing, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 1TU. Tel 01248 670232, crug-farm.co.uk.