A guide to the heavenly British gardens to visit over Easter

Gardens that are just divine: Easter is late this year and the countryside is blooming. Here’s our guide to heavenly days out over the holiday in the UK – with treats galore for all

  • Head to gardens such as Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire and Knightshayes in Devon for fun Easter egg hunts
  • On certain dates, families can also enjoy an ‘Easter Lambing Tour’ in the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall 
  • Look for early azaleas and April-flowering rhododendrons in Rowallane Garden in Saintfield, County Down

All ready for Easter: Many British gardens offer Easter egg hunts or adventure walks to celebrate the holiday 

Spring gardens are looking better than ever this year with Easter being so late. Tulips are joining late daffodils and trees are laden with blossom.

Wherever you live in Britain, growth is revving up for the prettiest time of the year.

In many gardens, wildlife is busy, too. You could spot early swallows or see yellow brimstone butterflies.

On large estates, there could be real baby bunnies as well as chocolate ones.

For families, many of our recommended gardens have Easter Egg hunts or adventure walks. Others have unique attractions such as castles.

So if you fancy a blossom-filled afternoon in a beautiful setting, perhaps these suggestions will egg you on.

Kent in bloom

Stately glories: The Tudor gardens of Hever Castle in Kent, pictured, come complete with two mazes and an adventure playground

Dating from 1270, Hever Castle was the seat of Anne Boleyn’s family — and it’s surrounded by beautiful grounds including a lake. This spring is a bumper year for magnolias and Hever has plenty already in bloom.

For children (and adults), there are also two mazes: one conventionally hedged, the other a water feature. Play areas include Tudor towers, the Acorn Dell and an adventure playground.

Easter treats: Free Easter Egg Hunt, as well as a Carrot Trail, in search of the Golden Carrot.

Details: Gardens only: adults £16.35, children £10.25, under-fives free (hevercastle.co.uk).

Lovely in Lincolnshire

Head to Grimsthorpe Castle, Park and Gardens (pictured) on Easter Sunday and Monday for a ‘Bunny Hunt’ – there’ll be prizes for the winners. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons 

Grimsthorpe Castle, Park and Gardens is one of England’s finest 18th-century landscapes. It is vast (3,000 acres), with lakes and woodland, designed by Capability Brown.

The house stands on a highpoint presiding over formal gardens, a large kitchen garden and the bosky parkland. Look for anemones, primulas and narcissi growing under the trees.

Easter treats: Bunny Hunts on Easter Sunday and Monday with prizes for winners (£1 to take part), plus a storyteller performs in the Adventure Playground 11am to 2pm on Easter Sunday.

Details: Castle open only on Easter Sunday and Monday, April 18; adults £15, children £6 (grimsthorpe.co.uk).

Yorkshire egg hunt

Children visiting the RHS Garden Harlow Carr near Harrogate this Easter will be given ‘Explorer Packs’ to help them find the large painted eggs that will be hidden around the grounds 

In a valley outside Harrogate, the RHS Garden Harlow Carr is especially beautiful in the spring. Long double borders lead to a woodland garden full of bulbs and shrubs. Alpines flourish in two vast rock gardens and there’s an Alpine glasshouse.

That’s where tiny primulas, wild cyclamen, rare saxifrages and other treasures flourish. A 1.5-mile footpath runs from Harlow Carr to Harrogate’s Valley Gardens.

Easter treats: As well as a Giant Egg Hunt, Explorer Packs are provided to help children find large painted eggs; a chocolate treat is given at the end. Until April 24.

Details: RHS members free; non-member adults £14.25, children £7.25 (rhs.org.uk).

Bluebells in Wales

Spend a day at Wales’s Bodnant Garden (pictured) and you can expect to find carpets of bluebells and richly planted hillside terraces

Bodnant Garden comprises 80 acres of magnificent hillside with views over Conwy Valley. The estate contains rarities introduced by great plant hunters such as Ernest Wilson and Frank Kingdon-Ward.

Features include richly planted hillside terraces and the Pin Mill, charmingly reflected in a tranquil pool. As the daffodils age in Old Park meadow, carpets of bluebells will take over.

Easter treats: From April 15-18, an Easter Trail is running, with maps, pencils and chocolate eggs (£3 to take part).

Details: Adults £14, children £7 (nationaltrust.co.uk/bodnant-garden).

Amazing azaleas

Keep your eyes peeled for early azaleas and April-flowering rhododendrons at Rowallane Garden in County Down

Rowallane Garden in Saintfield, County Down is Northern Ireland’s greenest and most interesting garden, where you can enjoy richly stocked flower borders and romantic woodland walks. Perennials such as blue Himalayan poppies flourish in the walled garden. Extensive green areas are framed in April by spring shrubs. Narcissi will still be blooming but look especially for early azaleas and April-flowering rhododendrons.

Easter treats: Easter egg trails from April 15-24, with a map, pencil and Easter egg included (£3 to take part).

Details: Adults £8, children £4 (nationaltrust.co.uk/rowallane-garden).

Easter in Edinburgh

The Queen Mother’s rose garden at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is planted with spring bulbs and features a charming little sea-shell house (above)

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is one of four Royal Scottish botanic gardens, and it has a distinguished history.

For plant-enthusiasts, not only is the variety of species heavenly but also the chance to lose yourself in a green, quiet space close to the city centre. Features include the Victorian palm house, historic trees and flowery walks.

Hellebores grow in the wooded areas, but Edinburgh’s big stars are the trilliums.

The Alpine house, will be open for Easter and Alpines are at their best now. Also The Queen Mother’s rose garden is planted with spring bulbs and features a charming little sea-shell house.

Easter treats: For children until April 24, a Spring Trail is running with clues and a Mackies chocolate treat at the end (£2 per trail booklet).

Details: Admission free (rbge.org.uk).

Wonderful wisteria

Take part in a ‘Nature Trail’ among the sweeping lawns, mixed borders and orchard of Mottistone Manor Garden on the Isle of Wight, pictured 

A delightful afternoon tea at Mottistone Manor Garden 

Mottistone Manor Garden on the Isle of Wight is outstanding — and the star feature is its richly stocked double border. Reminiscent of a cathedral aisle, the long grass path is bordered by a congregation of flowering plants. Elsewhere, sweeping lawns, mixed borders and an orchard in blossom complete the garden. The magnificent wisteria could be coming into bloom around now.

Easter treats: Easter Adventures and a Nature Trail are running from April 11-24 (£3 per child).

Details: Adults £7.50, children £3.75 (nationaltrust.co.uk/mottistone-gardens-and-estate).

Sub-tropical scots

Scotland’s Logan Gardens is home to a superb collection of sub-tropical plants and also has a fine avenue of monkey puzzle trees

Perhaps Britain’s most surprising botanic garden, Logan Gardens in Port Logan, not far from Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway, is home to a superb collection of sub-tropical plants. Protected by warm ocean currents, tender plants that thrive outdoors here include giant Canary Island bugloss, gorgeous South African bulbs and the bizarre Chatham Island forget-me-not. Logan also has a fine avenue of monkey puzzle trees.

Easter treats: Free Easter Egg Hunt with garden entry.

Details: Adults £7.20, children free (rbge.org.uk/visit/logan-botanic-garden).

Heaven in Devon

Knightshayes Court, pictured, is set on a lovely West Country estate with formal gardens, woodlands and wildflowers. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons 

Easter egg nature trails at Knightshayes, pictured above, run until April 24 

For a lovely West Country estate with over 250 acres of park and woodlands, head for Knightshayes gardens in Tiverton.

Much of the woodland is underplanted with flowering shrubs and shade-loving wildflowers. In the more formal gardens, a broad terrace runs high above the rolling landscape.

Enclosed gardens feature mixed borders, a kitchen garden and topiary. In spring, search the bluebell woods for pink or white flowers. They’re rare varieties of our native species — not alien Spanish bluebells.

Easter treats: Easter Egg Nature trails run until April 24.

Details: Adults £12, children £6 (nationaltrust.org.uk/knightshayes).

Lambs in Cornwall

Above is the rope bridge at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a ‘fascinating and diverse’ garden in Cornwall

During its massive restoration project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, just south of St Austell in Cornwall, became hugely popular. Now the renovations have matured, the result is a fascinating and diverse garden with lovely features. In the kitchen garden, see heritage apple and pear varieties in blossom at this time of year.

Easter treats: Easter Lambing Tours, lasting 90 minutes on certain dates until April 22 (adults £10, children £6); must book.

Details: Adults £22.50, children five to 17 £9.50 (heligan.com).

Charming Cheshire

Water lilies crowd some waterways in the extensive gardens surrounding Cheshire’s Cholmondeley Castle (pictured) 

Extensive gardens surround the magnificent fortifications of Cholmondeley Castle, about eight miles west of Nantwich in Cheshire. Carpets of wild narcissi grow in the grass, water lilies crowd some waterways, others are clear and reflective.

There are double borders, an outstanding arboretum and for summer, a rose garden. Now is the moment for carpets of pheasant eye and other small-cup narcissi. The castle is private, so only the garden is accessible.

Easter treats: Easter Bunny Hunt on Sunday April 17, with a hunt map and prize included with each children’s ticket.

Details: Adults £8.50, children £4 (cholmondeleycastle.com).

Fenland fauna

Explore the wonderful, large fenland garden with orchard trees in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey (pictured) in Lode. Image courtesy of Creative Commons 

Bulbs and blossom abound at this time of year at Anglesey Abbey Gardens in the village of Lode, five miles north-east of Cambridge.

This is a wonderful, large fenland garden with orchard trees also in blossom in April, plus delightful formal gardens, and you can view the distinguished Jacobean house.

Easter treats: Easter Adventures in Nature are being offered with the chance to spot birds and early butterflies and other creatures; children are given a chocolate egg. Must book.

Details: Adults £15, children £7.50 (nationaltrust.org.uk).

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