Blooming marvellous… top gardens to visit this spring

For those looking to wander through a garden bursting to life with colour, there are some blooming marvellous horticultural gems waiting to be discovered.

Bringing some spectacular colour, dazzling floral displays, and world-famous horticultural collections to our glorious gardens and picture perfect parklands, here are a few suggestions for a spring stroll…

Elizabethan splendour

As well as nationally important collections and spectacular architecture, Lincolnshire’s Burghley House is also home to two public gardens: the Garden of Surprises, a Tudor-inspired water garden; and the Sculpture Garden, an intriguing and evolving garden with hidden pathways and secret features. While the sweeping parkland surrounding the estate is open daily throughout the year, the House and Gardens are open 19 March – 29 October in 2022. And, Burghley, on the edge of the Georgian stone town of Stamford, has a spring surprise. The private South Gardens – normally only glimpsed from the windows of the House state rooms above – are open for colourful spring displays (19 March – 8 April), as well as one extra weekend, in aid of the National Gardens Scheme (10 – 11 April).

Spring has sprung in Staffordshire

It’s not hard to see why Trentham Gardens – on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent – is one of England’s most popular paid-for garden attractions, whatever the season. And for spring, visitors can expect a cascade of colour from March to May as nearly a million bulbs begin their seasonal displays. March heralds the arrival of daffodils bringing swathes of golden yellow, while April offers the sight of thousands of tulips in flower beds and pots creating a dazzling spectacle. Trentham’s spring finale ends in May with carpets of bluebells in the woodland meadows and a little wisteria hysteria – a sure sign that summer is around the corner.

A River of Gold in Hampshire

More than 100 years in the making, Exbury’s glorious gardens, designed and curated by the de Rothschild family, are a spectacular collection of landscaped woodland, herbaceous, contemporary, formal and wildflower gardens providing an ever-changing palette of colour. Exbury is renowned for spring colour, set apart from other gardens by the world-famous collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. These stunning shrubs are at their height in May, lining the paths with elegant flowers. Spring also sees a spectacular display of camellias and magnolias, as well as hundreds of thousands of spring bulbs in Daffodil Meadow and the River of Gold.

Journey around a world of colour

Wander Staffordshire’s amazing Biddulph Grange Garden and the world is your oyster… in a horticultural sense. Take a round-the-world trip in this masterpiece of Victorian garden design, which takes visitors on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. Created by horticulturist James Bateman for his collection of plants from around the world, spring offers its own world tour. March sees the small yellow flowers of the buttercup witch hazel appear, while throughout April more plants come into flower with Bergenia and winter-flowering honeysuckle in the Chinese Garden, and then in May the Chilean flame trees are ablaze with red flowers in the bowling green.

See Lincolnshire’s very own “lost gardens”

Easton Walled Gardens – owned by the Cholmeley family for over 400 years – is an ancient 12-acre garden restored from a wilderness after laying derelict for half a century. A garden 450 years in the making, for 50 years the gardens were abandoned to nature until work began in 2001 to restore them to their former historical importance, but with contemporary twists. Covering just over two acres, the Meadows feature the Cedar Meadow, which is bursting with bulbs for spring colour.

Magnificent magnolia at Mottisfont

A romantic house and gallery set in beautiful riverside gardens, with ancient trees, bubbling brooks and rolling lawns, Mottisfont, in Hampshire, is an18th-century house with a medieval priory at its heart. As well as carpets of spring bulbs, as daffodils and crocuses emerge beneath the trees, late March sees the flowering of a magnificent magnolia. The tree creates an archway of snowy blossom, leading through to a small cherry orchard, which in late spring, is awash with white flowers. Mottisfont‘s spring bulb showcase is designed to provide changing displays throughout the season, from daffodils and crocuses in March and April to tulips in April and May, while the Estate woodlands also put on a wildflower show for spring.

A waterfall of wisteria

Calke Abbey, near Derby, is surrounded by gardens and nature reserves that come to life in spring. Hot on the heels of the snowdrops in the gardens come vibrant tulips and sweet blossom as the weather warms, and don’t miss a seasonal must-see – a waterfall of wisteria, which blooms around May time. Through April, borders provide a medley of colour with tulips, wallflowers and forget-me-nots, while a highlight in the gardens – a rare, surviving Auricula Theatre – is adorned with its namesake, a stunning display of potted auricula, an alpine plant famed for its colourful flowers. The Theatre is the traditional way of displaying these antique flowers, and this is one of the oldest original examples in the country.

Take the Daffodil Trail in East Yorkshire

Situated in a dramatic clifftop position with spectacular views over Bridlington and set in 50 acres of early 19th Century parkland, Sewerby Hall and Gardens boasts award-winning gardens as well as woodland. Each garden offers its own variety of sights, smells and sounds throughout each of the four seasons, with visitors able to follow the Marie Curie Daffodil Trail throughout spring.

A cascade of colours

Burnby Hall Gardens, Pocklington, East Yorkshire, are seven times consecutive winners of the prestigious Yorkshire in Bloom Gold Award, and this year, there is a cascade of colours at its Tulip Festival (30 April- 14 May 2022). Featuring over 15,000 tulips, with 130 varieties on display, they can be seen formally displayed in tubs throughout the Gardens and in the main flower beds across the site. Wallflowers have also been underplanted to provide extra colour and fragrance.

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    Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent

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    Burghley Sculpture Garden. Photo: Neil Hepworth

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    Exbury Gardens, Hampshire

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    Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire

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    Sewerby Hall and Gardens, East Yorkshire