I’ll be honest, I’m not that into gardens. I think they’re beautiful and take such great skill and vision, but I personally love spending time in the wild and less manicured landscapes. Yet I was proved wrong at Alnwick Garden, set alongside the grounds of Alnwick Castle with it’s carefully plotted landscape – it’s more of an artistic statement than a garden.
Here’s a little bit of context for you. The gardens and castle are in Alnwick, Northumberland, in the north of England getting close to the border with Scotland. The castle has had it’s fair share of “visitors” in it’s position as one of the first points the Scots tried to conquer over the years. The Percy family bought the rights (or the barony in the old) to the castle in 1309 and have kept ownership ever since. A bit of gossip for you, George Percy, heir to the castle was rumoured to be dating Pippa Middleton a while back, which proved unfounded but would have made for a great story if true!!
You might have seen the castle in a little film called Harry Potter. It’s used for exterior and interior shots as Hogwarts and yes, there are kids running round the grounds to this day, dressed as Harry and Hermoine.
The lady of the house, the Duchess of Northumberland, Isobel Percy has developed Alnwick Gardens into the incredible drawcard for the region that it is today. While she has stepped down from her role as head of the gardens, they are just as beautiful today. Originally designed by Jacques and Peter Wirtz, internationally renowned garden designers, the gardens are a must visit in the region.
The Wirtz signature style features an architectural green structure – at Alnwick this means hornbeam-covered pergolas, yew topiary, box and beech hedges. The landscape is eclectic, from the gentle waves of colour and scent in the Rose Garden to the over the top water displays of the Grand Cascade.
The water sculptures have been created by William Pye, one of the world’s leading water sculptors, who brings art and science together in his work. Each one is made from mirror-polished stainless steel.
After wandering the gardens it was time for lunch at the incredible Treehouse Restaurant in the grounds. It’s high up in the treetops, with a roaring log fire in the centre of the room and trees growing through the floor. Most importantly, the locally-inspired food is delicious and mainly sourced from Northumberland. I had the lamb rump, a melt in your mouth hunk of lamb.
I travelled to Alnwick Castle and Gardens with Trafalgar, who offer a number of itineraries taking in this part of England. Check out the Trafalgar website for more guided holiday info.