2016 is the Year of the English Garden, we list below some of our favourite national horticultural treasures and where to stay nearby. As the song would have it: "We all smile in the spring when the birds all start to sing in an English country garden"...
1. Osborne House, Isle of Wight
"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria after her first visit to Osborne, the Isle of Wight retreat where she would come to relax with Prince Albert and her family. Explore this vast royal estate with Italianate ornate terrace gardens which boast seasonal colour throughout the year. The gardens overlook the sea - said to remind Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples - and have a vast range of trees many of which were planted by the Prince.
2. Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire
Once home to the romantic poet, Lord Bryon; see where he found his inspiration in the Japanese Garden; Rose Garden, Small Walled Garden and Spanish Garden. Take a tour inside the the Abbey and step back in time as you admire Lord Byron’s desk, letters and manuscripts.
3. Somerleyton Hall and Gardens, Suffolk
Located on the Suffolk & Norfolk border, this stately home and garden dates back 900 years. Set in a stunning 5,000 acre estate there is a walled garden with iron & glass greenhouses designed by Joseph Paxton - the architect of Crystal Palace - plus a 70 foot high pergola with wisteria; roses; clematis and vines. Test your sense of direction in the maze after which you can try a Suffolk real in the Duke's Head the Somerleyton estate pub.
4. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Made famous by Harry Potter (Hogwarts), Downton Abbey (Brancaster Castle) and also appearing in Elizabeth and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves this iconic castle should be on everyone's must-see-list. Dating back over 1,000 years you can explore the grounds which boast 'Capability' Brown landscaping.
5. Chatsworth, Derbyshire
Used as the location for the 2008 film, The Duchess, this glorious estate has 105 acres of garden where you'll find the famous 200ft fountain, the Victorian rock garden and maze, Joseph Paxton glasshouses and contemporary sculptures. With over 5 miles of walks with rare trees, shrubs and ponds there is simply a treasure-trove of discoveries to enjoy.
6. Lyme Park, Cheshire
Made famous as Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice you can see the famous lake from whence Mr Darcy emerged. In addition there is a beautiful 17 acre garden which harnesses the natural reserves of the surrounding moorland to bring water down a fine ravine to the lake. The wider estate comprises 1,400 acres and includes a dear park and outstanding walks taking in views of both Cheshire & Derbyshire.
7. Jane Austen's House Museum, Hampshire
Home to one of England's best-loved writers, the garden here is a classic example of a simple country cottage style and includes a herb border; perennial border; rose beds and a shrubbery. There are many wild flowers native to this part of Hampshire and an oak tree which is the descendant of one believed to have been planted by Jane Austen herself.
Where to stay: Hampshire campsites
8. Rievaulx Terrace, North Yorkshire
One of Yorkshire's finest 18th-century landscape gardens, containing two temples it provides a picture-perfect spot for a picnic. In spring the bank between the temples is awash with wild flowers, in summer the lawns are perfect for a lazy afternoon, while in autumn the beech woods are a mass of rich hues. Stroll through woods, then out on to the terrace, with its stunning views which provide 13 separate vistas over the ruins of the the Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey and the surrounding Rye valley. Close to Nunnington Hall the 2 together make an ideal twin visit.
9. Croome, Worcestershire
A magnificent 18th century house this is ‘Capability’ Brown’s very first commission with commanding views over the Malverns. The lakeside in the parkland is a perfect place to explore with temples, follies and statues around every corner. The natural play area and the RAF themed playground is a fun way to spend an afternoon with your family. After undergoing an extensive period of restoration Croome will re-emerge to its full glory in 2016.
10. Batemans, East Sussex
This 17th century Jacobean house was the home of the poet, Rudyard Kipling. Kipling said of his gardens at Bateman’s ‘they made him feel like he was at last an English country gentleman’. And when he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907, he spent all the money on the garden and a small boat for his children! Here you’ll find perfect lawns, a lily pond, rose garden, walled garden, meadows of wild flowers and a small river. Enjoy a walk in the 300 acres of countryside surrounding the house that influenced works such as Puck of Pook's Hill, Rewards and Fairies and many of his poems.
Inspired to try a leisure vehicle holiday ? See below for links to get you started: