A true jewel of the North East, The Alnwick Garden was first laid down by celebrated gardener Capability Brown, but fell into disrepair. Thankfully, in 1997, the Duchess of Northumberland came up with a hugely ambitious plan to rejuvenate the garden, intending to create ‘a huge public garden of classic symmetry and astonishing beauty…’ and we think it’s safe to say she succeeded. Now a year-round delight, Alnwick Garden offers a plethora of sights and activities whatever the weather. Adults and children alike can enjoy the delightfully macabre tours of the Poison Garden, where the guides regale you with deadly stories of plants such as belladonna, hemlock, and even plants you might find in your own garden – you’ll never look at a foxglove the same way again. If you need a sit down after taking in the sights all day, head to the cosy Treehouse Restaurant for a dining experience you won’t forget – twinkling lights, wooden walkways and roaring fires make it a spectacular setting for a delicious meal made with locally sourced ingredients. With its majestic water cascades, individual gardens and beautifully sculpted foliage, The Alnwick Garden is now one of the key attractions in Northumberland.
Don’t miss: The Blossom Watch. With spring comes blossom, and Alnwick Garden’s cherry orchard is a glorious riot of colour. If you can’t make it along to the garden, they’ll be live-streaming it from their website, so you can revel in spring from your desk at work.
The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland NE66 1YU
Bradley Gardens has come a long way since its beginnings as a walled kitchen garden producing fruit and vegetables year-round for Bradley Hall. It was bought in 2013 by current owners Mark Robinson and Darren Crichton-Jones and it’s since become unrecognisable, with the striking Victorian glasshouse being transformed into a bustling teahouse, and with a gift shop and ladies’ accessories store to boot. Their carefully planted garden changes with the seasons so there’s always something new to see, and the knowledgeable staff in the garden store can help with seasonal perennials, shrubs. bulbs and fruit trees.
Don’t miss: The Bridgewater Home-store, where you’ll find exquisite, hand-crafted furniture and home accessories, as well as top-quality products and gifts.
Sled Lane, Wylam, Northumberland NE41 8JH
A relic from the early 1800s, Chillingham Castle Gardens remain some of the most original in the UK, holding the record for the longest herbaceous border in the North. If you’re very quiet and lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some of the abundant wildlife which calls Chillingham its home, including red squirrels, foxes, and deer. Beyond the idyllic grounds, you can enjoy panoramic views and the scenic grandeur of the Cheviots.
Don’t miss: The lakes. The tranquil lakes are fed by seven springs and five streams, providing a home for the surrounding willow, birch and alder trees.
Chillingham, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 5NJ
Opened in 2006, Howick Hall Arboretum is still a relatively young project, but it still boasts over 11,000 trees and shrubs collected from seed in the wild from all over the world. It’s split into an east and a west section, both with suggested routes and walks for different abilities, so everyone can enjoy what’s on offer. As it’s still new, it will be very exciting to watch the gardens diversify and become home to lots of new species and wildlife – as it stands, it’s one of the last outposts in the UK to see the elusive red squirrel.
Don’t miss: The Snowdrop Festival. Once the gardens reopen in February, be sure to visit for a wonderland walk through the snowdrops.
Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 3LB
While some parts of the gardens were added recently, others have stood the test of time for centuries, but each part has its own unique personality and history. The Moat Pool area is steeped in history, as the surrounding area formed part of the northern defences in medieval times, and the Georgian Walled Garden played host to William and Dorothy Wordsworth and John Ruskin, who would have no doubt admired the riotous colours of roses, tree lupins, and poppies.
Don’t miss: The Secret Walled Garden. Admittedly, not the best-kept secret in the North East, but you don’t want to miss the former vegetable garden turned traditional English rose garden – you can still see the majestic pear trees, which were originally planted in the hope they’d ward off evil spirits.
Crook Hall & Gardens, Frankland Lane, Durham DH1 5SZ
0191 384 8028
Nestled in the Borders, Floors Castle is Scotland’s largest inhabited castle, whose gardens provide an almost endless source of delight. Floors boasts an impressive mix of old and new, with the Walled Garden dating back to the 1850s while the Millennium Garden, with French-style parterre, was designed to commemorate the new millennium. Take in the breathtaking frenzy of colours of the herbaceous borders, take a stroll through the glasshouses bursting with ripe fruit, and visit the summerhouse where Queen Victoria herself walked in 1867.
Don’t miss: The Star Plantation. After a disastrous storm in the 90s, the Star Plantation underwent a major transformation, overflowing with ornamental trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, snowdrops and rhododendrons, centred around a wrought-iron seat – the perfect place for a picnic.
Roxburghe Estates, Kelso, Roxburghshire TD5 7SF
While they’re currently closed for winter, Birkheads will be back come February or March with their glorious Snow Drop Weekend. Each section of the garden has a different theme and different soil conditions, so you won’t lack for inspiration whatever your own garden may look like, as here they are firm believers in finding the best plant for the site instead of attempting to alter the environment.
Don’t miss: The birds and the bees. Birkheads is a haven for bird-watchers, with over 43 species spotted so far, as well as an abundance of bees, butterflies and moths during the summer months – a must for wildlife lovers.
Near Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5EL
This charming plant nursery is located by the seaside at Blyth, and carries an impressive and eclectic range of garden plants, all of which are hardy varieties, grown to withstand the coastal weather. As well as hardy perennials and shrubs, you’ll also find a vast range of alpines, grasses and wildflowers to brighten up your garden.
Don’t miss: The planting services – not only in baskets and pots. Perennial Favourites enjoy the challenge of planting in more unusual objects, so why not add some interest to your garden with a teapot planter?
East Park View, Blyth, Northumberland NE24 3AY