To visit the Gardens, Gallery and House, you no longer need to pre-book a timed admission slot online (simply purchase gardens admission on arrival). Summer Late openings take place every Wednesday evening.
Setting off along the gravel walk on the southern edge of Rook Wood you’ll discover a breathtaking view from the magnificent Daisy Steps which were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to create a link between his Formal Garden and the earlier Landscape Garden.
The Victorian Shrubbery is a small enclosed garden incorporating a nineteenth-century yew tunnel with views to the Victorian water tower.
Hestercombe’s Landscape Garden, designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde, incorporates the restored eighteenth-century Octagon Summerhouse and its framed views of the gardens both up and down the valley.
The Terrace Walk leads to the Chinese Seat and the Valley of Cascades glimpses through the trees to see the Pope’s Urn so named after the original design by William Kent for the poet Alexander Pope and erected in his garden at Twickenham.
The spectacular Great Cascade is the dramatic centrepiece of the Landscape Garden and its theatrical effect was inspired by Bampfylde’s visit to William Shenstone’s garden, The Leasowes, in 1762. Opposite is another viewing point – the Rustic Seat allowing the visitor to stop and contemplate this sublime scene.
Two ponds, the Box Pond and the Pear Pond make for tranquil places to sit and reflect on your journey around the gardens. And further garden buildings, the Gothic Alcove, the Temple Arbour, the Witch House and Mausoleum all punctuate the walk towards the restored 17th century Water Mill with its Dynamo House and Mill Room.
Cross the manicured Orangery Lawns towards the Formal Gardens where you’ll find the Dutch Garden and the impressive Orangery.
The Formal Gardens extend to the Rotunda with views across the East Rill and then follow the path across the Victorian Terrace overlooking the world acclaimed Great Plat resplendent with bright colours specified by garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.
When you descend the steps leading to the Grey Walk with soft borders of silver and grey leafed plants you’ll find yourself on The Great Plat – a great sunken parterre laid out with geometric borders edged with stone and ringed with luxuriant bergenia. The East and West Rills frame this garden with a Pergola enclosing the garden at the bottom and allow it to remain linked to and be part of the surrounding countryside.
Back through the fragrant Rose Garden, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to offer cool shade you’ll find yet more stunning views.
For more information about the pioneering plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll, visit the official Gertrude Jekyll website.