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6 Glorious Gardens For Joy And Inspiration, UK

There aren’t many things as wonderful as a British garden in summer. So go on, feast your eyes.

Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire

  The glorious 58-acre gardens at Harlow Carr offer a treat for the senses, with colour and fragrances.  The talent of Nigel Dunnett, who designed the gardens at London’s Olympic Park, is clear to see. The wild fl ower meadows are a delight, while cool blue Meconopsis poppies, one of Harlow’s signature plants, burst into fl ower along the Streamside Walk. Cherries, magnolia and rhododendrons put on great displays, as do the dolly mixture candelabra primulas.
  The Scented Garden is fi lled with glorious wisteria, jasmine and roses, while orchids and giant alliums pop up in the borders. And keen gardeners will be able to pick up plenty of tips in the Kitchen Garden.
  Garden highlight The garden’s bird hide, to spy on a variety of species. Open 9.30am-6pm, admission £13.50;

Helmingham, Suffolk

  Prepare to be wowed by the beautifully designed gardens and grounds at Helmingham, a hidden delight offering a marvellous mix of formal and informal gardens. Stumble across tumbling roses, meander through fl ower meadows and breathe in the scent of blossom along the Apple Walk, a wonderful greensward with fruit trees. The historic moated house is surrounded by 400 acres of Tudor parkland, where cattle and deer roam free, and the whole estate oozes an idyllic style and charm of its own. The creative infl uence of award-winning garden designer Xa Tollemache, who owns the estate, is clear wherever you walk. A high point is the vegetable plot in the walled garden, with its rampant climbers and vegetables mingling with abundant cottage-garden fl owers. Garden highlight The magnifi cent 19th-century parterre, fl anked by musk roses, and the Knot Garden, with formal box hedges and fi ne gravel paths that hark back to Tudor times.
  Open 11am-4.30pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sundays, as well as bank holiday Mondays, admission £7;

Sculpture By The Lakes, Dorset

  Gardeners and art lovers alike will adore this sculpture garden, set in 26 acres of Dorset countryside. Lovingly created by British sculptor Simon Gudgeon and his wife, Monique, the blend of inspiring pieces of art and natural beauty creates an exquisite oasis. There are more than 3,500 trees and shrubs, with plants and grasses brimming with insects from early summer.
  Throughout the landscape, the sculptures complement their surroundings; an enormous ibis soars into the sky, two silver swans entwine necks on a lake, and giant bronze pears and apples scatter the ground. There’s a herbaceous tunnel swathed in roses and wisteria; woodland and Japanese-style formal gardens, and a quirky dog cemetery guarded by stone hares.
  Garden highlight Gudgeon’s famous sculpture, Search For Enlightenment its two enormous human heads gaze up at the skies in contemplation by the River Frome.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, admission £10;

Brantwood, Cumbria

  On the edge of Coniston Water, these mountainside semi-wild gardens with superb lake views are the former home of John Ruskin, writer, artist and nature lover. The estate straddles more than 250 acres, and miles of trails take you through woodland, moor and meadow. Surrounding Ruskin’s house is a collection of gardens, each reflecting his belief in enhancing the landscape. In May and June, elegant azaleas border the beautiful apple orchards, and the grounds come to life.
  Garden highlight The High Walk, designed by Ruskin’s cousin, Joan Severn, with neatly mowed levels contrasting with the rugged fells beyond.
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10.30am-4pm, admission £8.70;

Bodnant, Conwy

  Perched above the River Conwy, with splendid views of the Snowdonia National Park, Bodnant Garden’s hillside setting drops dramatically from manicured lawns and fl ower-fi lled terraces, through meadows and glades into tranquil dells of water gardens and towering trees.
  This horticultural gem, now cared for by the National Trust, was established by Henry Pochin, a 19th-century plant collector. The garden is now famous for its botanical collections, boasting rare and beautiful specimens. In late spring, there are superb displays of rhododendrons and camellias, while abundant roses, burgeoning lily ponds, herbaceous beds and wild flowers herald the arrival of summer.
  Garden highlight Britain’s first-ever laburnum arch, which dates back to 1810. Bodnant is also home to the UK’s first magnolia trees, introduced from China in the 1880s, as well as unique rhododendron hybrids, which were cultivated here in the 1920s.
Open daily, 10am-5pm, admission £14.80; bodnant-garden

Rosemoor, Devon

  Deep in the lush Torrington Valley, the gardens at Rosemoor are 65 acres of sheer joy. They’re at their fi nest in early summer, with riotous colour and tranquil green parkland, beautiful meadows, woodland gardens and orchards, as well as a shaded lake and gulley an oasis with ostrich ferns and delicate water irises. There are grand formal hedges, stunning water features and majestic trees, not to mention two of the most beautiful rose gardens in the UK. Plus there are waves of vibrant plants in the Hot Garden.
  Garden highlight The fabulous Cool Garden, which opened last year and was designed by RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner Jo Thompson. At its centre is a tear-shaped ornamental water feature.
Open every day, 10am-6pm, admission from £10.90;