Alnwick Castle Gardens, Northumberland

You’d have to be even more culturally illiterate than me to be unaware that Alnwick Castle featured as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films but you might not know how absolutely wizard its gardens are. Now, the heart of a keen gardener might sink a little at the prospect of a garden attached to such a global tourist attraction and in truth the frankly amazing water feature, zany mazes, talking trees and vast treehouse restaurant are a little as though Disneyworld had a baby with the Palace of Versailles, but believe me, it’s high calibre fun. Alnwick crouches just...

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Branklyn Garden, Perth

Branklyn Garden is surely one of Scotland’s national treasures. Its eccentricities start before you’ve even got there. For although it’s in Perth – a wonderfully central and connected city, it’s quite a tricky little number to locate even for your top notch Sat Nav. (Basically head over the river as though you’re going to Scone Palace but turn left instead of right and then it’s just off to the left.) You’ve got to work for it. Even when you’ve parked your car (for free) you still have another 70 metres or so to totter before you find this wonderful...

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Parham House Gardens

I defy anyone not feel happier after a visit to Parham House Gardens in Pulborough, West Sussex. The sense of well-being starts as soon as you pull off the A283, drive in through the main gates and weave your way down through the historic parkland, a mosaic of downland, bracken and veteran trees opening up to an uplifting view of the South Downs in which this Elizabethan house and garden nestle. The bonhomie continues with the welcome you get as you park on the springy turf (no trace of twentieth century tarmac here) and make your way through the...

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – it sounds impressive and given the complexity of its funding masters (and its structure – RBGE actually comprises four gardens in Scotland), the Edinburgh garden does a jolly good job of fulfilling expectations. Fact: it’s big – 70 acres. You can spend a good afternoon getting round it – and it’s completely free to go in! You’ll enjoy the walk from the city centre – 30 minutes or so will do it, handy since there isn’t a car park  – but it’s fairly easy to get onto a meter on one of the...

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