A week ago I had a trip out to Arley Hall and Gardens. I'd never been there before but it turned out to be well worth the trip. It has a number of different types of garden and planting and I think that spring is probably a really good time to visit, though I am sure other parts of the garden will come into their own later.
We started in the woodland garden which is packed full of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias with a sprinkling of spring flowers.
The weather was kind to us but parts of this garden can be muddy, so be warned! There were very few people around, as you can see so it was a very refreshing walk in green surroundings.
Around the main buildings are the more formal gardens. This one had some lovely tulips still hanging on and some flowering herbs, but probably the main event here will be the roses you can see in the picture.
Next door is the walled kitchen garden, with some of the best examples of trained fruit trees I have seen in a long time. This apple is a beautiful example. The garden is huge so there were lots of trees along the side - apples, pears, cherries. In the middle were some vegetable beds and an ornamental walk.
For the fruit and vegetable grower, this kind of conservatory is a dream! Along the back wall are a number of old and well tended fruit trees - fig, apricot, peach etc. A rare sight these days and clearly a hangover from the earlier big house gardening traditions. Nice to see an old tradition being maintained.
Next to the kitchen garden is another walled garden, this time with ornamental planting and buzzing with nesting bird. In the centre of this picture is a fountain.
Here's a picture along one edge, it doesn't take in the full length but you do get an idea of the scale. There is a great variety of colours and textures in the planting.
This long walk is one of their treasures, with spectacular topiary on both sides, but particularly on the right side where it makes a complete wall. If you look carefully in the distance you can see a man mowing the grass. A lot of work here. This border will be at its best in June/July I think, given the cold spring.
Another small garden nearby has a sunken feature with more small scale planting but surrounding by large topiary. Quite spectacular.
In between the sunken garden and this one is a stretch of roses, which were not flowing so I missed them out of my photos. This garden is a classic late 19th century rock and water garden,with meandering paths bordered by rhododendrons and azaleas, with a rather lovely and very old Japanese maple as a feature. This garden does need a little restoration at its outer edges but in spring it is quite lovely.
All in all, well worth a vist.