Britain is renowned for its gardening heritage, and people flock from far and wide to visit the country's stunning public gardens. Little pieces of heaven, Britain's gardens have developed into tourist hotspots adored by visitors of all ages. With this in mind, it's not surprising that they picked up the prestigious 'Outstanding Contribution to Tourism' prize at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence in 2012. Many of Britain's great gardens provide visitors with guided walks and information displays, helping to create a wonderful visitor experience for those looking for an educational tour around a picturesque oasis.
British people have a real obsession with their nation's gardens, probably because they are viewed as an antidote to the chaotic, angry man-made world. Rural and idyllic, they are the perfect place for people to escape their everyday cares. What better way to enjoy a sense of tranquillity than by ambling through one of Britain's glorious gardens? With the British passion for gardens ever strong, it's no wonder that its gardens are one of the nation's biggest tourist attractions. Let's take a look at some of the country's most popular gardens...
Kew Gardens are one of London's premier attractions. Situated between Richmond and Kew (in the suburbs of south-west London) on the south bank of the River Thames, they are made up of three hundred acres of botanical delights. The gardens have a long history, and are “Royal” due to the fact that the estates that now form the gardens were owned by members of Britain's royal family, notably King George II and Queen Caroline. Anglophiles or anyone who has a affection for Britain's royal history will undoubtedly appreciate Kew Gardens.
Today, the gardens boast beautifully landscaped lawns, as well as formal gardens and greenhouses displaying a huge variety of plants. Kew functions as a botanical research centre and is home to the largest collection of plants in the world. Other attractions of the gardens include Kew Gardens Gallery which showcases botanically themed art and photographs, Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew's most famous structure – the Chinese Pagoda.
One of Northumbria's biggest tourist attractions is Alnwick Garden, situated next to Alnwick Castle, a location famous for its role in the Harry Potter films. Many of its visitors are no doubt attracted by the prospect of visiting 'Hogwarts' but it also draws in gardening enthusiasts and those keen to see how this magical garden has been conjured from the relatively derelict site that existed only a decade ago.
The Duchess of Northumberland transformed the once forgotten piece into land into a stunningly scenic garden worthy of a visit by anyone who appreciates Britain's great gardens. Alnwick Garden is a a garden for families, with lots of attractions such as the Grand Cascade – perfect for kids who want to get wet under its jets in the summer months! It's also very much a garden for gardeners, with its 'Poison Garden' showcasing various different planting styles and a host of unusual plants.
The Eden Project
For those looking for a less traditional garden, the Eden Project in Cornwall is the place to visit. One of Britain's most popular visitor attractions, it is situated in a disused china clay pit. It's the perfect place for people to explore their relationship with nature, and there are many attractions and experiences to enjoy. Attractions include “the world's largest rainforest in captivity with steamy jungles and waterfalls” along with its rainforest lookout that takes you above the treetops.
Visitors can also enjoy stunning garden displays that are held all year round as well as its renowned educational centre and demonstrations to suit all ages. The Eden Project isn't your most conventional British garden but it certainly attracts plenty of visitors looking to reconnect with nature. For more traditional gardens in Cornwall, popular options are Caerhays Castle Gardens and the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
With hundreds of magnificent gardens open to the public in Britain, British people have an impressive choice of gardens to visit. Providing a relaxing environment to forget their worries, scenic views and education in the form of guided tours and demonstrations, Britain's gardens are able to excite, educate and inspire like no other tourist attraction in the country.