Furnace Hill, Bodnant Garden, ConwyThe best gardens are always changing and developing, offering something fresh for the repeat visitor. We round up some new plantings, features and events being unveiled this spring and beyond including Bodnant Garden's' Furnace Hill (above) - open to visitors for the first time this spring. 

Garden structures: from fruit cages to crowns of gold 

The restored fernery at Ascog Hall

The 1875 sunken fernery at Ascog Hall, Isle of Bute, has a shiny new 'crown of gold' following restoration work. After replacing the roof with English oak, owner Michael Burke gilded the decorative ironwork on the long (east-west) axis. 

'As the sun comes up over the Highlands, it catches the ironwork and beams out in every direction. It really is quite dazzling,' says Michael. Inside, see what's believed to be Britain's oldest exotic fern - a 1,000 year old Todea barbara (king fern). 

The fruit cage under construction at East Ruston Old Vicarage

See progress on the large (50ft x 30ft) fruit cage at East Ruston Old Vicarage in Norfolk, designed to protect sweet cherries and other soft fruits.

Adjacent to the Diamond Jubilee Walled Garden, the cage features a pavilion at each corner and a central dome. Owners Alan Gray and Graham Robeson plan to build raised beds where new fruit cultivars can be trialled. The fruit cage is due to be completed in 2018.  

See the latest new addition to Godinton House's sculpture collection. Set to be unveiled on 10 March, 'Tempesta' was created by Emily Young, described by the Financial Times as 'Britain's greatest living stone sculptor'. The sculpture combines a classical subject with the informality and beauty of natural materials, and offers fascinating glimpses from the wild garden and formal lawns. 
The redeveloped Piggeries at Aberglasney Gardens

Explore the redeveloped Piggeries at Aberglasney Gardens in Carmarthenshire - now open after a £1.3 million project. The former piggeries and cowsheds have been converted into state-of-the-art glasshouses, potting sheds and a mini horticultural college. Visitors are welcome to drop into the propagation facilities and chat to the gardens team about their work. 

There are also three sweeping new shrub borders, designed to give interest in late summer and winter-spring. Plantings include StyraxMahoniaMagnolia and Rhododendron, with some rare and unusual specimens to see. 

Fresh events for the diary

Tulips at Hever CastleIn Kent, visit Hever Castle & Gardens' new Tulip Celebration (24 - 28 Apr & 2 -7 May (excl Bank Hol weekend). Take a self-guided tulip trail or join the Head Gardener to marvel at 7,000 tulips bursting into bloom along the Pergola Walk, Pompeiian Wall, Tudor Garden and Italian Garden.

Plants meet fashion in a quirky new event - Jean jean genius! - at Sussex Prairie Garden in West Sussex from 1 - 30 June. See the longest strip of denim in Sussex (and hopefully the world!) weaving its way through the borders; the stitched tabs have facts about indigo seeds, the dyeing process and how denim is made. Donations to Jeans for Genes. 

Inverewe, Ross-shire, holds its first Erythronium Festival from 17 - 23 April. Enjoy extensive carpets of Erythronium revolutum among the magnolias and rhododendrons, join talks and guided walks, and take part in botanical art workshops. ‘The arrival of these little nodding treasures brings a springtime elegance to our coastal woodland,’ says Head Gardener Kevin Ball. 

New garden areas: See them grow

The Dragon's Lair at the Bishop's PalaceAt the Bishop's Palace, Somerset, planting will soon start on a new Winter Border, designed to give vibrant winter colour with Pinus mugo 'Winter Gold', scented witch hazels and bright dogwoods. Later in the season, enjoy the expanding Bishop dahlia collection - Head Gardener James Cross hopes to build up a full collection to give spectacular colour from late summer to the first frosts. 

Younger visitors can enjoy the new Dragon's Lair play area in the arboretum, complete with a carved cedar dragon and dragon's eggs, and the chance to power a replica water wheel.

The new Reservoir Garden at The Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex is due to be planted by mid June. Located on a south-facing slope with clay soil, the difficult site was put to low-maintenance trees and shrubs. 'People tended to walk through without stopping,' says Head Gardener Asa Gregers-Warg. Once established, the garden will feature flowering perennials, grasses and evergreen shrubs chosen to suit the exposed aspect and heavy soil. Narrow paths will allow visitors to get in among the plants and see them up close. 

Bodnant Garden in Conwy opens Furnace Hill to visitors for the first time in March. At 8ha (20 acres), this is the largest area in the garden’s programme to open up private parts of the estate. The woodland is a mix of native trees and Asian rhododendrons and magnolias planted from the late 1800s – early flowerers include Magnolia stellataMcampbellii and Rhododendron ‘Fragrantissimum’.   


Refreshing and replanting: Borders get a boost

The Ovals at The Garden HouseThe iconic 'Ovals' (right) were replanted last year at The Garden House in Devon, but this will be the first year the scheme comes to fruition. The redeveloped herbaceous planting takes the area back to the style intended by Keith Wiley, who was Head Gardener and Curator at The Garden House for more than 25 years. 

In the woodland, more understorey plants are being added, such as trilliums, Roscoea and drifts of ferns. 'We have always had collections of these in beds, but we want to grow them in a more natural environment so they develop into a self-maintainig colony,' says Head Gardener Nick Haworth. 

The re-planting of Parham House and Gardens' Blue Border will be finished this April/May. Mainly a perennial border, it features a naturalistic mix including phlox, campanulas and asters.

The White Border will also be replanted this spring, featuring herbaceous plants and shrubs with a contemporary palette of crisp white and 
dark green. In summer, the garden will brim with nostalgic cut flowers as Parham trials cut flower dahlias, gladioli and long-stem zinnias. 

The Turkish-inspired garden at Midney Gardens, Somerset, will expand again this year. From tulips in April to roses in May and June, be surprised by just how many common garden plants come to us from that country - all enhanced by a Turkish-inspired temple and Turkish carpet. 

In May and June, see 1,800 newly planted alliums in the Kitchen Garden, and pause to enjoy the new waterfall near the pond. Another peaceful feature is the three-circuit labyrinth, enhanced this year with more bulbs and wild flowers. 

Some exciting new Nigel Dunnett planting schemes are due for completion this spring at The Trentham Estate, Stoke-on-Trent. The woodland meadows have doubled in size, with the addition of more than 40,000 perennials, and the perennial meadow scheme by the main entrance has also been extended - this will be in flower from May to October. 

2017 is Dyffryn Gardens' year of vegetables, marking 100 years since the gardens were turned over for fruit and vegetable production in World War I. Beds and borders will be filled to bursting with vegetables including a gourd tunnel, giant veg varieties, and heritage and unusual vegetables, all mirroring the 1917 war effort.

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Each of these gardens is an RHS Partner Garden offering free entry to members (main cardholder) throughout the open period or at selected times. Please click the garden name to find details of opening arrangements.


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