Hever Castle Gardens

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Things to do


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May, 2016

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“Hever Castle”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/stately_homes_castles/england/south/hever/index.html is everyone’s vision of a perfect moated castle. Originally built in the C13th it was completely restored by Lord Astor in the early C20th. He also landscaped the grounds, transforming marshland into the stunning gardens seen today. This was a massive undertaking, all done by hand with a workforce of 800 men. It took two years just to dig out the lake. This can be enjoyed by rowing boat, canoes or pedalos or even a even a tip on the ‘African Queen’ steamboat.

There are many other water features around the garden, including the Half Moon pond fed from the cascade, the Two Sisters pond and even a water maze.

The gardens are designed to complement the house with a topiary walk leading up to the main entrance. This is great fun with the trees cut into a variety of shapes, including a pig.

The Tudor garden is to the east of the castle next to the maze and has carefully trimmed yew hedges and includes a herb garden. The famous Tudor Chess set is here, formed from golden yew. In front of the chess man is an astronomical instrument dating from 1710 which was used to measure the altitude of the sun, moon and stars and was used to tell the time and work out latitude.

Perhaps the most impressive is the Italian Garden designed to display Lord Astor’s collection of Italian sculpture. This is surrounded by tall stone walls. On the north wall, there are small bays breaking up the long border. Facing south these get the full benefit of the sun and many half hardy plants thrive here. Along the south wall is the pergola walk with shady grottos where ferns and other shade and moisture loving plants thrive. Carefully trimmed hedges or stone arches draw the eye to pieces of statuary.

In the middle of the garden, surrounded by tall hedges, is the sunken garden with its lily pond. The Blue Garden is a small secret garden tucked away behind the Italian Garden. Near it is the Rose Garden planted with over 4000 roses.

This is very much a garden for all seasons and is planted to provide colour and interest throughout the year from displays of spring bulbs through rhododendrons, azaleas, roses and dahlias to autumn colours.

The gardens are always busy. Once you get further away from the house, you begin to lose the crowds. Allow plenty of time to enjoy the gardens – several hours is needed to see all of them, especially if you visit the two mazes and do the walk around the lake. In fact, I enjoyed them more than the castle.

There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/gardens/england/south/hever/index.html


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