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An Enchanting Garden
Alnwick Garden (Northumberland)
Member Name: wigglylittleworm
Alnwick Garden (Northumberland)
Disadvantages: expensive for adult entry
I am not the type of person who normally likes visiting stately homes and gardens, in fact the idea of walking through most formal gardens is something that I would find extremely boring but Alnwick Gardens is a cut above the rest and I loved spending time there.
Alnwick garden is situated next to the amazing Alnwick Castle and the gardens date back to the 1750's when Capability Brown designed the first gardens. The gardens have undergone extensive redevelopment over the past few years and now consist of formal gardens, water features, a pavilion, one of the worlds largest treehouses and the famous poison gardens. It costs £9.50 for an adult to visit with kids visiting for a mere penny. The best value way to visit is to buy a combined ticked for the castle and gardens which costs £20.80 for an adult and £5.50 for a child and allows you to visit both attractions over two consecutive days.
The largest feature in the garden is the huge water feature, a magnificent series of pools on many levels with water cascading downwards. The fountains squirt water out at regular intervals in lovely patterns and children delight in standing and waiting to get wet. There are mini ride on toys for young kids at the bottom of the feature and they can ride these in the spray from the water. For those who do not want to get wet you can climb up the stairs and enjoy the sights and sounds or just sit on the grass enjoying an ice cream and relaxing with the sounds of moving water in the background.
The poison garden is kept locked for obvious reasons and you can join one of the many tours that seem to leave around every ten to fifteen minutes and take about half an hour. Our tour guide was really enthusiastic about the plants and she pointed out some of the highlights of the garden and answered questions. A lot of the plants were recognisable so it came as a surprise that they were poisonous; who knew that a bush commonly used as a hedge could poison you if you burned it or a common weed had chemicals that were absorbed through the skin. More exotic specimens included hemlock, ricin, opium poppies and the biggest killer of them all which is tobacco. The cannabis plant was kept under a dome to stop school groups from stealing a piece and seemed to be the most popular plant in our group of adults too, I never knew that it could grow outside in the UK. A tour of the poison garden is truly fascinating, I think in modern times we have lost the knowledge about healing and harmful plants that previous generations would have had.
The formal gardens are breathtakingly beautiful. The rose garden was a favourite of mine, there are several thousand rose bushes in this section and the scent was amazing and the variety of different types of flowers lovely. Another favourite part of the garden for me was the ornamental garden which had numerous nooks and crannies to explore amongst the fruit trees and lavender bushes. There were two dovecotes along the walls and the tame white birds were undisturbed by humans and were happy to wander close by while I sat and relaxed on a bench.
The woodland walk is another peaceful place to take a stroll, it features an enormous treehouse which is magical in appearance and also a place where you can book to go and eat in the restaurant. Even if you do not visit the treehouse it is wonderful to just look at it and wander through the mature trees.
I have only described a few sections of the garden, there are many more areas including a sensory garden which is particularly suitable for disabled visitors. The huge pavilion serves reasonably priced drinks, snacks and very good ice cream (I recommend the raspberry and honeycomb!) and you can sit out at tables in the sun or simply sit on the grass and enjoy the atmosphere.
Alnwick gardens are as far from the typical boring stuffy stately home gardens as it is possible to get. I spent hours here over two days and loved seeing people of all ages enjoying themselves in beautiful surroundings. The gardens should be top of your list of places to visit if you are in Northumbria.
Summary: a lovely garden
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