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The Best Time to Visit The Gardens During Spring


Morning mist in the Sunken Garden

Through the years and week by week subtle changes alter the face of the garden. We are often asked when the best time to visit the garden is. This is of course subjective, but we can offer some guidance that hopefully will help plan your visit.

Our 12 month pass holders know the quietest time is in the early morning when we open at 9 am. Many also bring their leashed canine friends. The light is magical in the morning and colours in the garden are often magnified against the morning mist.  If you want quiet solitude the 9 am to 11 am window is for you. However, if you are looking for a brisk walk with fewer people than the higher traffic period of 11-3, but have brighter light, then 3 pm to 5 pm might suit you! Remember, once in the garden you can stay one hour past the gate closing time.

In April the results of the fall planting of more than 300,000 bulbs reach their height. First, with the gold of narcissus and daffodils then the riot of colour from beds of tulips, spring comes alive. Flowering cherries and plums, crabapples and some 30 species of other flowering shrubs join the display. Rhododendrons and azaleas start to show, and the native dogwood is starting to bloom.

In May, the tulips begin to offer their place on the palette of colours to the rhododendrons, azaleas and the early perennials. Siberian wallflowers and forget-me-nots supply both scent and colour, and the rare Handkerchief tree - davidia involucrata is at its peak. Cinerarias are being planted out with gloriously coloured blooms, and schizanthus in the multitude of hanging baskets comes onto the scene.

In early June the azaleas and late rhododendrons are at their best. Columbine, delphiniums and - in more shaded places – the rare Himalayan blue poppy join with nemesia, tuberous begonias, stocks, poppies and sweet william to bring in summer. Weigela, deutzia and beauty bush are in full bloom.  

As the weather warms and we move into summer, The Gardens extend hours to 9 pm in the evening, and our enchanting and tranquil Night Illumination display is not-to-be-missed! Catch more about that in our Summer newsletter!