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The 10 best places to see blossom this spring

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get outdoors! Read on for our guide on which local National Trust gardens to visit with friends and family to enjoy this season’s most spectacular blooms.

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

© National Trust Images / Rob Coleman

Have you looked outside lately? Nature’s been giving herself a glow-up after the cold winter months and Spring is shaping up nicely across Surrey, thanks very much!

Most of us will be planning time outside with friends and family in the next month or with that in mind, the National Trust has just launched a nationwide #BlossomWatch campaign to celebrate the blossom and blooms of the new season, and to encourage us to enjoy them while they’re here. Happily this means your walks will be eminently instagrammable, so do your grid a favour and post your images on social using #BlossomWatch.

So how do you make the most the the National Trust’s gardens near you? Easy peasy! We’ve channelled our inner Charlie Dimmock (don’t worry, I am wearing a bra) and rounded up where to catch the apple and cherry blossom, wisteria, bluebells and tulips across Surrey, so you can have blooming lovely day out.

POLESDEN LACEY, GREAT BOOKHAM

The daffodils are a cheerful sight in spring at Polesden Lacey. © National Trust Images / Eddie Hyde

The gardens at Polesden Lacey are a sight to behold at almost any time of the year. But in the springtime, we flower-loving fans at Muddy go a bit ga-ga. In April and May, the orchards are filled with blossom – 30 different types, no less – making this the perfect spot to plonk down a rug on a sunny spring day and enjoy a picnic.

New Lime Walk is lined with daffodils bobbing in the breeze, while in The Dairy courtyard the anemones show their pretty little heads. The formal gardens are a lovely spot to visit – and this is where you’ll find the pretty purple irises. For bluebells, head to the Preserve Copse in the estate’s gardens and the shadier parts of the ancient woodland where you’ll find a scattering. In recent years, the National Trust’s gardeners have planted over 180,000 new bulbs at Polesden. Now that’s a lot of digging.

Head gardener’s tip: We recently planted 86,000 wild daffodils along the entrance drive and another 80,000 in mixed swathes of ‘Rapture’ and ‘Thalia’ daffodils, which flower in succession in the lawns. Within our entrance courtyard there is prairie style planting, along with daffodils, blue scillas and white anenomes. The spring borders take centre stage through April and May with early flowering herbaceous plants interspersed with alliums and muscari. Nearby, the orchard has clouds of blossom on the apple trees. – Alex Wigley, Garden and Outdoors Manager at Polesden Lacey.

HATCHLANDS PARK, NEAR GUILDFORD

The bluebells area a sea of blue at Hatchlands Park. © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

The 400-acre Hatchlands Park offers up an abundance of the tiny blue flowers en masse in the springtime – and there’s a lovely circular walking trail through Little Wix Wood that will take you past some wonderful bluebell displays as well as open parkland.

A longer walk – but worth the steps – is the Long Walk, a circular walk that takes you around the edge of the park through woodland and open parkland. As well as distant views of the house and the wider Surrey countryside, at this time of year you’ll also be greeted by the delicate cream flowers of the blackthorn blossom, as well as the hawthorn blossom.

Look out for the wood anemones and violets in the ancient woodlands – and of course, you’ll also swathes of bluebells. After the bluebells have peaked, the sunny coloured cowslips and wild orchids make their appearance in the meadow. As well as the floral displays, you’re also likely to catch a glimpse of the local deer and if you’re really lucky, barn owls, buzzards and red kites.

Head in the garden for glimpses and scents of lilac and skimmia, as well as the lovely daffodil display under the magnificent London plane tree.

Muddy tip: Take the Wix Woods Walk, following the blue way-marker posts, to find the best bluebell displays. There’s a children’s adventure playground along the way, and the trail is great for dog walks.

WINKWORTH ARBORETUM, HASCOMBE

The magnolia is a star display at Winkworth Arboretum in spring. © National Trust Images / John Millar

This 46 hectare arboretum was given to the National Trust over 60 years ago and has loads of rare trees and shrubs amongst the 1,000 varieties found in the gardens. And it early spring, it really comes to life with waxy magnolia blooms unfurling and wild cherry blossom frothing on the trees.

Perky yellow daffodils poke their heads through, lining the the sides of the main paths of the upper arboretum.

Look out for flowering cherries along Cherry Avenue, and blossom on the ornamental fruit trees, apples and pears dotted around the arboretum.

Head gardener’s tip: This year’s daffodil display will be better than ever. In addition to the thousands already there, 40,000 more bulbs were recently planted around Magnolia Wood.

CLANDON PARK, WEST CLANDON

Daffodils at Clandon Park. © National Trust Images / James Duffy

It’s all about the daffies at Clandon when spring is here – and each year glorious displays burst forth with vigour. At least 22 varieties are planted in the Bulb Meadow, alongside irises and lilies which come a little later in the year.

Muddy tip: The National Trust has been opening the gardens at Clandon Park for free since the start of the pandemic, to offer some green space for those who looking for peace. And this year again, there’s no charge to visit the gardens which are open every day from March to October.

THE SURREY HILLS

The wildflower meadows in spring. © National Trust Images / John Millar

Throughout Surrey, the native woodlands and hedgerows burst into bloom at this time of year. Head to National Trust countryside like Box Hill, Leith Hill, Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punchbowl, Witley and Milford Commons and Bookham Common to catch the best shows of blossom on trees like Blackthorn, crab apples, wild cherry, hawthorns and elderflower with their clusters of cream frothy flowers.

If the romance of wildflower meadows is what you love about springtime, head to the chalk grasslands at Box Hill, Reigate Hill and Denbies Hillside where you’ll spot wildflowers including yellow cowslips, early purple orchids and deep blue chalk milkwort.

Muddy tip: The rhododendron wood near Leith Hill Place is worth a visit and starts springing to life in April and May. Pick up the woodland trail from the Rhododendron Wood car Park. (SatNav: RH5 6LU)

CLAREMONT LANDSCAPE GARDEN, ESHER

As well as the blossoms and gloms at Claremont Landscape Garden there are also families of goslings o visit. © National Trust Images / John Millar

This grade 1 listed garden created by the great landscape designers of the 18th century was once a playground for the wealthy and influential people – and is one of the earliest surviving gardens of its kind, the English Landscape Garden. It was the country retreat for Sir John Vanbrugh in the early 1700s, and in the years since then has been home to an illustrious group including Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold. These days, much of the original design remains including the three-acre grassed ampitheatre carved into Bridgeman’s Hill.

But at this time of year, it’s the blossom and bloom that take centre stage, as swathes of daffodils announce the new season, and then camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons following along soon after.

Head garden’s tip: Stroll through the corridors of rhododendrons, and breath in the scents of the azaleas. There are also tiny goslings to be seen.

RIVER WEY NAVIGATION, GODALMING AND GUILDFORD TO WEYBRIDGE

Beautiful blossom on the River Wey. © National Trust Images / Hannah Elliott

The River Wey towpath is gorgeous in springtime as the native hedgerows burst into blossom. There are 20 miles of waterways to wander with alder and willow catkins overhanging the path at various points.

At Dapdune Wharf in Guildford, you’ll find apple, cherry and pear blossom in the orchard – a lovely spot for a picnic, and to take in the views of the wharf and the pretty lock houses along the river as well as the sunny bright yellow celandines.

Muddy tip: The tow path looks glorious in the early morning mist – so if you can manage to drag yourself out of bed it’s well worth it and great for getting the perfect Insta shots.

MORDEN HALL PARK, MORDEN

Blackthorn blossom at Morden Hall Park. © National Trust Images / Martin Freeman

Set in just shy of 50 acres, this pretty park sits on the banks of the Wandle River in Morden, near Wimbledon. And in the springtime, from mid to late May it’s a spectacle of brilliant white as the avenues of horse chestnut trees burst into bloom with their snow-like flowers.

If you’re driving to Morden Hall Park, your blossom discovery will start from the Garden Centre car park where several apple trees are a froth of flowers from late April. Head through the archway and into the park and there’s plenty more to be seen. Fruit trees are dotted all over the park – head to the mini orchard outside the Stableyard to see Merton variety fruit trees in bloom.

Head gardener’s tip: Last year, 45 ornamental crab apple trees were planted in Bunch’s Meadow, along the sides of the cycle route next to the river – Which means they’ll produce a showy display of blossom this year. The buds emerge as bright pink or red, before fading to light pink and finally opening to large sweetly scented pure white flowers. Breathe deep!

HAM HOUSE AND GARDEN, RICHMOND

The spring bulbs at Ham House are glorious right now. © National Trust Images / Chris Davies

With an orchard of apricot, cherry, plum, apple, pear and peach trees, the blossom at Ham house – a 17th Century walled garden on the banks of the Thames – is a sublime cloud of colour during the springtime. Fun fact: There’s been an orchard here since at least 1609, around the time the original house was completed.

But the riot of colour is not all in the trees, the spring bulbs are also a sight to behold – a  joyful, exuberant and colourful display over more than 500,000 bulbs which take over swathes of the large historic lawns. From late February, flower carpets of purple crocus, moving into romantic pastel coloured tulips and vivid blue muscari until early April.

RUNNYMEDE, NEAR OLD WINDSOR

The bluebells in Cooper’s Hill Woods at Runnymede. © National Trust Imagess / Dee Durham

If you think Runnymede is all about ancient memorials commemorating the sealing of Magna Carta, think again. This historic site – some say it’s where King Henry proposed to Anne Boleyn – is made up of wonderful meadows that also produce lovely wildflower displays during the springtime. Head to Cooper’s Hill Woods, the protected oak and ash woodland, where bluebells, lesser celandines, dog’s mercury and wood anemones create a magical scene.

Langham Pond is brimming with spring flora – wildflowers, bullrushes and reeds – but look closely and there’s also fauna to be seen from frogspawn and tadpoles to goslings, cygnets and ducklings. In late spring, damselfies and butterflies also flit among the wildflowers.

Muddy tip: It’s not a bad idea to wear wellies or sturdy shoes when you visit Runnymede. After a few rainy days the meadows can become a bit sloshy – They’re not called water meadows from nothing… and you know what they say about spring showers.

National Trust

1 comment on “The 10 best places to see blossom this spring”

  • Rommy April 23, 2022

    Thank you, from a Chicago reader! Not only don’t we have such gardens and parks to visit, but it’s still feeling downright wintry here. The early daffodils are just breaking bud. Your article made me believe I really am wearing muddy stilettos on a springtime walk in glorious Surrey.

    Reply

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