Royalty, celebrities and the biggest names in the horticultural world have descended onto one of the most important events in the calendar for green-fingered folk – the Chelsea Flower Show.
Opening to the public tomorrow, Kate Middleton, who co-designed one of the gardens, is urging children to get away from smartphones and get outdoors, while Chris Evans says being in nature really calms him down.
“I go out every day for a walk. Love it, love it, love it,” he says. “There’s a little place that I go and lie on the same log with the dog, and look through a sort of covering of beech leaves. I try and go there every day.
"Have a little think about things. If you believe in chakras, green is your love chakra.”
If you can’t get to Chelsea Flower Show this year, here are a few more horticultural havens to get your green fingers into, without the effort of actual gardening…
1. RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
With some of the most picture-perfect petals in the land, RHS Wisley is the sort of place that could convert even the most reluctant gardener.
One of the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship projects, don’t miss the rock garden, the rose garden, the glasshouse, trial’s field, the cottage garden, the alpine meadow…
The list goes on.
2. Bodnant Gardens, Conwy
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Colour is the word of the day at Bodnant, and through its storied history it’s accumulated an internationally-renowned collection of exotic plants – from the tips of the Andes to the foothills of the Himalayas.
Perfect for the garden nerd, Bodnant houses Britain’s first laburnum arch and visitors can walk through it.
There’s also a unique breed of rhododendron hybrid, and, historically, the UK’s earliest magnolias imported from China.
3. Pashley Manor Gardens, Sussex
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Some gardens overwhelm the senses with kaleidoscopic colour, while others prefer to beguile with exotic oddities.
Pashley is perfectly passable at both, but is at its best when working with a single crop.
April and May bring a bountiful blanket of bluebells, August through September brings the best out of Pashley’s herbaceous borders, while snuggled in between is the aptly named ‘rose week’.
But best in class is the annual tulip festival – 35,000 of the flowers in more than a hundred varieties.
4. Down House, Kent
We know, you didn’t come to a flower garden to read the signs, but Down House in Kent is meant for the mind as much as the eyes.
The former home of Charles Darwin, his garden often acted as his laboratory, housing botanical specimens and giving him a space to think.
Most of the original plants died soon after their proprietor, but one wizened mulberry tree which still stands proudly above the flowerbeds.
It’s not the nation’s largest flower garden, nor the most spectacular, but it might just be the most interesting.
5. The National Botanic Gardens, Co. Wicklow
The remnants of a giant 18th century estate, supplemented with plants from China, South America and the Himalayas, visitors can wander the wildflower meadows, ponder the famous ‘fossil lawn’, and enjoy the rhododendrons in the aptly-named rhododendron avenue.
Must-sees include rare monkey puzzle trees and a colony of flamboyant herbaceous borders.
A shout out to the sister garden at Glasnevin near Dublin – swing by both if you can.
6. Hampstead Heath Hill Garden and Pergola, London
What sets this urban garden apart – and in the age of social media this is a shocker – is that it’s criminally underappreciated.
Hidden amidst the treeline above Golders Hill Park, the faded, dilapidated terraces spent many years in disrepair, and now provide the perfect backdrop to a dreamy, solitary wander.
In the heart of the urban jungle, you could patrol Hampstead for years and never realise that it hosts one of the most picturesque places inside the M25.
A few canny couples have figured it out – the terrace occasionally hosts weddings.
- Press Association