Travel the world at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
With scores of holidaymakers opting for a staycation this year, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey is inviting people to travel the world among its 180 acres of flowers, trees and plants from all over the globe. Visitors can take their pick of hundreds of far-flung destinations throughout the award-winning Gardens, with peace of mind that social distancing and extra safety measures are in place.
Started in 1953 by the distinguished plantsman Sir Harold Hillier, the Gardens have been under the sole trusteeship of Hampshire County Council since 1977. Many plants from Sir Harold’s visits to such countries as Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America, and Mexico grow in the Gardens today.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans said: “The beautiful Sir Harold Hillier Gardens boast thousands of trees and plants from around the globe, including rare and threatened species that the Gardens are helping to conserve for future generations. There’s plenty to explore for everyone from budding gardeners, to people who are interested in the environment, or families looking to get out for some fresh air and exercise – you just need to decide where in the world to begin.”
Start your journey at the Centenary Border – one of the longest double borders in the UK – which features more than 30,000 flowers, shrubs and trees. Here you will find flowers from as far afield as: Mexico, such as the bright red Illicium; Spain, where Giant Feather Grass originates; and South Africa, home to the striking Canna Durban with big orange flowers and pink-veined leaves.
To help discover your inner calm, stroll through Acer Valley and relax under the shade of Japanese Maples, whose delicate leaves are sheltered from the sun by the mature oaks above.
Next, it’s to South East Asia, where visitors can make some noise with Giant Bamboo that has been fashioned into a huge musical instrument in the Children’s Education Garden. These plants, native to China, Thailand and Burma, can grow up to 100 feet tall.
For a glimpse into another world, take to the Jurassic Gunnera Boardwalk and see the world as it once was when dinosaurs roamed. Passing through the tunnel of Giant Gunnera leaves, a native plant of South America that was around more than 150 million years ago, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time.
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is also home to the Gurkha Memorial Garden, which holds an impressive collection of Nepal’s unique flora including beautiful pink and white coloured Birch trees. Atop it all stands a traditional Nepalese resting-place, the Chautara, built in memory of Sir Horace Kadoories, a benefactor to the Gurkhas and their homeland of Nepal. The Chautara provides a chance to sit down for a moment of reflection before heading back to the UK.
The Gardens’ summer meadows display quintessential British countryside, with grass rich in Yellow Rattle. Visitors can admire these cheery golden flowers as they follow the mown paths, passing trees such as Hollies and mature Crab Apples, while butterflies, bees and hoverflies flutter around. And finally, don’t miss the majestic, native English Oak by the Winter Garden area – a tree that symbolises strength and courage and which watches over the Gardens and all who travel through.
For visitors who find themselves in need of refreshment along their journey, hot and cold takeaway food and drinks are available to purchase from the Tilia Tree Café and the Munch Buggy at the Visitor Pavilion, between 10am and 5pm daily. Customers are encouraged to make card and contactless payments.
Visits to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens must be pre-booked in advance online. For more information about the Gardens visit: http://www.hants.gov.uk/hilliergardens