You can enjoy 2016's Year of the English Garden whichever month you visit. Whether you find yourself with crispy autumn leaves underfoot, blazing sunshine overhead (or both) there’s sure to be an English garden grown just to suit. With more public gardens than anywhere else on the planet you’ll have plenty to choose from too, but here’s our pick for each season to get you started…
Down in the warm, wet climate of Cornwall, the first shoots of spring appear a little earlier than in the rest of the country. At the Eden Project daffodils, bluebells and violets brighten up the outdoor gardens, whilst delicately fragrant rock roses find the perfect conditions to bloom inside the Mediterranean Biome.
With the British weather in spring notoriously changeable – one minute you’re in a thick winter coat, the next stripping down to t-shirt and shorts – the Eden Project’s combination of indoor and outdoor gardens is ideal.
When summer arrives on Tresco, one of the Isles of Scilly, it really arrives - and there’s no better place to experience it than the 19th-century Abbey Garden (http://www.tresco.co.uk/enjoying/abbey-garden/). The 17-acre garden has a tropical feel thanks to the island’s unique microclimate. With feet firmly on English soil you can travel the world walking round it, marvelling at its spectacular show of species from no less than 80 countries.
There’s the flame-coloured frills of the South American Bomarea, which wow like a troupe of flamenco dancers, and succulents from the Canary Islands, with rosette leaves such a vivid green they’re almost fluorescent. And the added joy is that thanks to Tresco’s balmy climes, these beauties can be enjoyed well into late September’s Indian summer.
Sheffield Park and Garden is not in fact found in the northern city of Sheffield, but down south in Uckfield, East Sussex. The landscaped parkland really comes into its own in autumn – peaking around October - and is a popular place for family days out to see the season’s much-loved colours.
You’ll love strolling round the park’s lakes, framed with red, gold and copper trees, kicking up fallen leaves as you go and enjoying the satisfying crack and crunch of small branches under your walking boots. And remember your camera – you’ll treasure memories of this photogenic scene for years to come.
The National Pinetum at Bedgebury, Kent, is a treat year-round but perfectly suited to winter weather with its evergreen trees. Started in the 1840s by the Beresford Hope family, the site – spread over 320 acres - now boasts one of the globe’s most complete collections of conifers.
From the frosty crunch of the morning grass to the invigorating scent of fresh pine in the air, a nice walk here is sure to wake you from your winter slumber.