The glorious gardens of historic Hever Castle in Kent received a Gold Award and were voted ‘Garden of the Year 2014’ by South & South East in Bloom
The double accolade was announced last week, with the gardens beating stiff competition in the Heritage Parks & Gardens category.
The Gardens received a glowing report from the Assessors who praised Head Gardener, Neil Miller, and his passionate team of nine horticulturally trained gardeners for maintaining the extensive gardens to such an immaculate standard. It noted the ‘manicured lawns, closely mown and home to some beautiful majestic trees that occupy the skyline’ as well as admiring the ‘formal gardens where water features, colourful bedding displays, Italian sculptures, Mediterranean style planting, carpet bedding, topiary and over four thousand different roses, typical of the quintessential English garden are found’.
It was felt that the opportunity to book garden tours and the availability of gardeners and volunteers to answer visitors’ questions was a bonus. The Judges also approved of the number of ramps to enable access for less able bodied visitors to all areas of the gardens and the introduction of golf buggies to take disabled visitors to various sites.
Hever Castle Gardens scored highly on the environmental scale, and the report noted ‘the use of chemicals is minimal with bedding grown in peat free compost while water is obtained either sourced from a bore hole or from the large 38-acre lake’.
Among new and ongoing projects to enhance the visitor experience is the reclaiming of Church Gill Walk, an extension of Sunday Walk. Additionally, exciting new vistas have been opened up to surprise and delight visitors, along with pruning mature yew hedges back into shape and the introduction of new plantings covering all seasons, including the development of a Winter Garden.
Each year, Britain in Bloom receives hundreds of entries from communities, schools, cities towns and villages who wish to participate from across the South and South East. Entering the “In Bloom” campaigns has helped raise the standards of horticulture and awareness of environmental concerns, conservation of resources as well as ‘making places greener, cleaner and a pleasure to live in, work in and visit’.
The report concluded that ‘Hever Castle’s fascinating gardens were full of colour and interest, an enjoyable experience well worth more visits in the future, guided expertly by an enthusiastic, joyful character, Neil Miller, Head Gardener’. On finding out they were voted ‘Garden of the Year’ by South & South East in Bloom Neil said “I was absolutely thrilled with the Award – my team really deserved it.” This sentiment was echoed by Chief Executive Duncan Leslie who added: “We are delighted that the hard endeavours of the gardening team have been recognised. Hopefully this prestigious award will make more people aware that we have one of the finest and most important gardens in the ‘Garden of England.”
Gardens open at 10.30am; Castle opens at 12 noon. Last admission 4.30pm; final exit 6pm.
Admission Prices – Castle & Gardens: Adults £15.50; Seniors £13.25; Children (5-15) £8.70; Family ticket £39.70. Gardens only: Adults £13.00; Seniors £11.25; Children £8.20; Family ticket £34.20.
For further information please visit the website: www.hevercastle.co.uk or call Hever Castle on 01732 865224