Hillier Gardens

And so it was on the hotest day of the year (an August day where temperatures sored to 30 degrees) that we visitied Hillier Gardens.

Situated north of Romsey – just outside the pretty village of ampfield – Hillier gardens boast a fine history – having been developed by their founder the late Sir Harold Hillier (1905-1985) and given to Hampshire county council in the late 1970′s.

First off Hampshire Council should be commended for the site – which is clean and modern – facilities are excellent whether that’s for wheel chair access – the well stocked tea rooms or the smile at the ticket booth – they really have got this place sorted.

For flower lovers we probably didn’t see the gardens at thier most colorful – you can imagine a different view would meet visitors in the spring but in August (and on a particularly roasting day) you could almost hear the borders gasping for some liquid refreshment. Whilst there are some fine and colorful examples of English borders – the Hillier garden is perhaps best known for it’s collection of trees and assorted folliage.

One of the main things that strikes you about the gardens is just how much thought has gone into displaying the form of the plants around you whether that’s the Pines or giant foliage of the Bog Garden – each plant is shown of as though it was the crown jewels.

Design plays a large part all over the gardens and we were lucky enough to see some great additional artwork in the form of Year of Artwork in the garden that is running throughout 2007 – these included glass works and models that provided further enjoyment as we tramped around under the heat.

The pond gives a welcome respite and perched under the art piece that doubles as a seating area you can gaze at the goldfish cahsing the insects at the surface or gasp at the colourful dragonflies that hovered this way and that.

Within the gardens is Jermyns House the former residence of teh Hilliers (now used for receptions, weddings etc) – this is a splendid looking house – sitting amidst some stunningly coifiered lawns and borders.

Hilliers has events running throughout the year whether it’s fireworks and classical music – to gardening breakfasts for enthusiasts – there is lots here on offer – the entrance fee is reasonable (kids under 16 currently go free) and it makes for a good family day out.

More can be found at the official website of http://www.hillier.hants.gov.uk/index.html

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