The Elizabethan Gothic Holker Hall’s 18th-century landscape park and gardens (part woodland, part formal gardens) have recently been complemented by the addition of the Pagan Grove amphitheatre, designed by notable landscape architect Kim Wilkie. The gardens promise a pleasurable visit at any time of year, from spectacular spring rhododendrons and summer flowering perennials to rich autumn colours and serene winters, not to mention the 400-year-old Great Holker Lime, which measures 7.9metres in girth.
“Great gardens are never those that are simply preserved in aspic, but where enterprising owners look ahead as much as back – learning from the past to make new stories for themselves and experiences for visitors,” says our expert Lucy Hall, editor of Gardeners’ World Magazine. “The Cavendish family, keepers of Holker Hall for generations, have achieved this by investing in the future. This award is a huge vote of confidence by the public in their vision.”
Runner up: Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex
Pic ©Beth Chatto Gardens
Founded in 1960 by the influential plantswoman, who transformed an overgrown wasteland of brambles, boggy ditches and gravel, the garden today is an inspirational haven. Beth and her husband Andrew set about solving the problems of planting in difficult conditions, using their combined knowledge and closely observing plants’ behavior in the wild. Their research has proved invaluable and paved the way for allowing plants to thrive in all types of habitat.