The award winning Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is famous the world over. In 1977 Sir Harold left the Gardens under the sole trusteeship of Hampshire County Council. It is now run as a charity under the remit of horticulture, conservation, education and recreation. Among its outstanding features are the splendour of the seasonal planting displays set in 180 acres.

Sir Harold Hillier

In 1953 the distinguished plantsman, Sir Harold Hillier established the Gardens and Arboretum. Over the many years he assembled a remarkable collection, in the aim to bring together the most comprehensive and unrivalled collection of trees, shrubs and hard hardy plants in the UK.

The Gardens were left under the sole trusteeship of Hampshire County Council in 1977. Run as a charity, the Gardens are continually developed to further Sir Harold’s philosophy of horticulture, conservation, education and recreation. In 1997 the Gardens were included by English Heritage on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

Sir Harold was born in 1905, the son of Edwin Lawrence Hillier, a world authority on conifers, whose own father Edwin had started a small florist and nursery in Winchester, in 1864.

Much of Sir Harold’s time was devoted to expanding his ever-growing plant collection. He corresponded with garden owners, curators and nurserymen all over the country, and, indeed, all over the world. Many plants from his visits to such countries as Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America, and Mexico grow in the Gardens today.

Sir Harold was closely involved with deciding what was to be planted and where. It was common to see him on Saturday mornings in the Gardens with his first Head Gardener, Jack Brice, Sir Harold with a handful of labels and Jack with an armful of canes, marking out suitable planting positions.

Sir Harold died in 1985 but those of us who heard his voice, booming amongst the trees, will never forget him and in the Gardens he created we can still admire the same wonderful collection of plants that he raised, loved and knew so well.

History of Jermyn’s House

From medieval times the area now occupied by the Gardens was part of the vast Fleming estates. Known as the Manor of Romsey Extra, it consisted of woodland and grassland.

The date of the first house here is not certain; however, in 1724 a Farmer Jarman was reprimanded by the Manorial Court for taking land as ‘a backside’, that is as a back yard of a house, or, presumably in this case, a farm. This does indicate that the original house here could have been built in the early 18th century. It also gives us the origin of the name.

After being used as a smallpox hospital and inoculation centre in the 18th century, the next record comes in 1808 when the house and 360 acres were leased to Frederick Blundell who was instructed to plant ‘proper and sufficient quick plants along the boundaries’, the first record of planting here. It was then sold in 1822 – the first time in several hundred years – to Sir Thomas Heathcote of Hursley Park for £2,103 17s 4d.

Sir Thomas, the fourth baronet of Hursley, had bought Hursley Park from Oliver Cromwell’s granddaughters. He died in 1825 and another member of the family, Gilbert Heathcote, bought Jermyn’s House. It was during Gilbert’s time here that extensive renovation was carried out and by the 1830s the house had largely assumed the appearance it has today.

In 1844 the house was sold to Captain Sergison Smith, from Staffordshire, for £4000. Local JP, Robert Linzee took on the house, but sold it in 1900 to Reverend Gordon. It subsequently passed through several hands.

By the beginning of World War ll it was owned by Brigadier General Cuthbertson, who made it the HQ for the local Home Guard. The General died before the end of the war and his widow sold the house to Lady Cooper.

In 1951 it was auctioned and the Hillier family took up residence in June 1953, the day after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Jermyn’s house now serves as the administrative centre of the Gardens and as a Lunch and Tea Room all year round. The house is also available for private hire for meetings and conferences.

25 beautiful Hampshire gardens to visit this year

PUBLISHED: 11:55 29 April 2019

Leigh Clapp

Exbury Gardens is one of the UK’s finest woodland gardens (Photo by Cathryn Baldock)


Hampshire has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit. Throughout the open garden season you will find an array of stunning choices, many also serving delicious home-made teas to complete your visit

Appletree House

Small country garden abundant with shrubs and perennials in shady and sunny areas. Charming winding paths give views across the garden and to meadows beyond. Large collection of over 90 clematis, with mainly viticella hybrids that flower through July.

• Where: Appletree House, Soberton, SO32 3QU

• When: National Garden Scheme: visitors welcome by arrangement July 1 – Aug 31

Bury Court

Exciting contemporary gardens created from 1996 on the site of an old farmyard. The courtyard garden was created by owner John Coke in collaboration with the renowned garden designer and pioneer of the New Perennial movement, Piet Oudolf, and is a mesmerising sight of shimmering grasses and perennials in a naturalistic style.

In the front garden there is a more minimalist design by Christopher Bradley-Hole with swathes of grasses in a formal grid pattern. The gardens are part of the events venue at the barn but are also open to the public on plantsman days and by appointment.

• Where: Bury Court Barn, Bentley, GU10 5LZ (Sat Nav 5LY)

• When: Last Wednesday of every month from April to September (except August); Admission £8.50

Brick Kiln Cottage

There is something quite magical about the rich haze of a sea of native bluebells in the dappled light of a deciduous woodland. Here you will find acres of these special bulbs, along with a pebble garden, a pretty potager of productive and ornamental choices in a cottage style, a shepherd’s hut and you can view the scene from the treehouse platform.

Created by Barbara Jeremiah a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners using the natural landscape left in the old brickworks. An eco-friendly haven for wildlife, with pond and bug hotel

• Where: Brick Kiln Cottage, Herriard, RG25 2PR

• When: NGS: May 12 (12-4); Admission £4.50, child free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement Apr 1 – May 31

Colemore House

Elegant four-acre garden of rooms with lovely planting and vistas. Stroll the arched rose walk, verdant lawns and herbaceous borders, gaze into the dark mirror pond and admire the stepped rill and grass gardens. There’s a thatched pavilion built by students from the Prince’s Trust and there are always new developments to inspire return visitors.

• Where: Colemore House Gardens, Colemore, GU34 3RX

• When: NGS: June 11, 12 (2-6); Admission £5, children free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement May 1 – Sept 30

Dipley Mill

Romantic meadows, tumbling roses and a timeless atmosphere draw you in as you explore the varied gardens and meandering stream surrounding the Domesday Book listed mill. Be surprised by the rust themed garden, pillbox grotto, a herd of alpacas, and the ornamental courtyard. “One of the most beautiful gardens in Hampshire,” according to Alan Titchmarsh in his TV programme Love Your Garden.

• Where: Dipley Mill, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8JP

• When: NGS: June 2, 16; July 14; Aug 4; Sept 1, 29 (2-5.30); Admission £6, children free, cream teas

Durmast House

Old-fashioned roses galore here, including rare French varieties, as well as lovely colour schemes in hot and cool borders and fine trees. Important historically as designed by Gertrude Jekyll who was the cousin of the then owner Miss Nelly Baring in 1907 and the garden is being restored from the original plans by the present owners Mr and Mrs Daubeney.

A woodland walk leads to a Victorian wooden coach house and there is also a charming Lutyens style summer house.

• Where: Durmast House, Burley, BH24 4AT

• When: NGS: June 23 (2-5); Admission £4, children free, cream teas; Visitors also welcome by arrangement Apr 1 – Sept 30

Exbury Gardens

One of the UK’s finest woodland gardens famed for its colourful rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias will be marking its centenary in 2019 with a series of special events including the opening of a new ‘secret’ garden and a showcase display at the world’s leading flower show, RHS Chelsea.

Founded in 1919 by Lionel de Rothschild, a passionate collector of plants and a keen supporter and sponsor of the early 20th century plant hunters, over recent years the Hampshire garden has been expanded for all-season interest with areas designed to show off summer and autumn ‘flower power’, as well as an extension of its 1½-mile Rhododendron Line steam railway.

• Where: Exbury Gardens, Exbury, Southampton, SO45 1AZ

• When: Open daily Mar 23 to Nov 3 (10-5.30); Gardens and railway £18.75, children £9.40


An interest in trees, shrubs, fruit and vegetables informs the planting in this large two-acre garden, combined with a colourful mix of herbaceous plants in sweeping borders that direct the eye down the length of the space to the orchard and beyond. The garden has evolved from a fairly blank canvas with the first priority being establishing a vegetable plot and then a gradual development without a set plan.

• Where: Fairbank, Alton, GU34 4BU

• When: NGS: visitors welcome by arrangement May 1 – Sept 30

Gilbert’s Dahlia Field

Although not actually a garden but a growing field display area, well worth visiting for the spectacular sight of over 300 varieties of this flamboyant group of flowers. Wheelchair friendly hard grass paths allow close inspection to discover varieties for your own garden, from tiny pom poms to dinner plate blooms.

• Where: Gilbert’s Dahlia Field and Nursery, Sherfield English SO51 6DT

• When: NGS: Aug 25 (10-4); Admission £3, children free, light refreshments

Gilbert White’s House and Garden

An 18th century village house and garden that was home to the Reverend Gilbert White, a clergyman and pioneering naturalist, famed as the author of the Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, which has never been out of print. A quirky fact – Reverend White was one of the first to promote growing and eating potatoes in England.

Children will love exploring here and are encouraged to run around and discover with a scavenger hunt. There are five acres of restored gardens guided by progressive gardener White’s methods and plants, along with 25 acres of ancient parkland.

• Where: Gilbert White’s House, The Wakes, Selborne, GU34 3JH

• When: Open Tues to Sun (10.30-5); Admission £10, under 16 £4.50, under 5 free

Hambledon House

Textural and inspiring colour combinations of unusual shrubs and perennials for all seasons, with the particular highlight of late summer interest. Colour schemes vary from soft mauves and creams through dark maroons and deep purples to dazzling crimsons and gold.

Some areas reveal themselves, bordering the flowing lawns and others are partly hidden by hedges to offer delightful surprises as you discover them.

• Where: Hambledon House, Hambledon, PO7 4RX

• When: NGS: visitors welcome by arrangement Apr 1 – Oct 31; Admission £5, children free

Hillier Gardens

The gardens are on the Register of Parks and Gardens, have one of the largest collections of hardy trees and shrubs in the world and with around 180 acres to explore there is plenty to see. A visit at any time of the year is sure to inspire, however autumn with nature’s crescendo of colour from both foliage and flower, makes it one of my favourite times for a ramble.

• Where: Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Amplefield, Romsey, SO51 0QA

• When: All year, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day (10am-5/6pm); Admission £10.90, children £2.60

Hinton Ampner

Owned by the National Trust, this historic estate has an important and distinctive garden created by its last private owner, Ralph Stawell Dutton, the eighth and last Lord Sherbourne.

Widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of 20th century garden design, the 12-acre garden is on the bones of a Victorian garden, with a strong formal layout infilled with colour through the seasons and set with magnificent views across the South Downs.

The garden’s design also has magnificent topiary in a long walk, formal bedding schemes, a productive walled garden with restored Victorian greenhouses and an atmospheric wild garden.

• Where: Hinton Ampner, Bramdean, SO24 0LA

Houghton Lodge

Home to the Busk family for over 100 years, the picture-perfect Houghton Lodge near Stockbridge is a rare example of an 18th century ‘Cottage Orné’, a romantic and picturesque vision of the perfect rural retreat.

Highlights include the peaceful walled garden with ancient espaliered pear trees, an orchid house, a tunnel of vibrant pink Rosa ‘American Pillar’ beside a vibrant flowery mead, and extensive productive beds of vegetables and herbs, as well as a magnificent 300 foot herbaceous border, woodland walk, a topiary peacock garden, the water meadows and beautiful lawns that sweep down to the River Test.

• Where: Houghton Lodge Gardens, Houghton, SO20 6LQ

Lake House

Atmospheric garden of resplendent natural areas around two lakes on the Grange Park Estate owned by Lord and Lady Ashburton. Mature trees, such as chestnut, beech, oak, ash and wild cherry, drape over the water casting shimmering reflections, there are glimpses to a nineteenth century folly and the lakes are home to an array of birdlife.

There is also structural formality in the walled garden, complete with striking rose and vine-clad pergolas leading to a large moon gate, grand vistas and striking herbaceous borders.

• Where: Lake House, Northington, SO24 9TG

• When: NGS: June 6, 9 (12.30-5); Admission £5, children free, home-made teas; Visitors also welcome by arrangement May 1 – Oct 31

Little Owls

Ideas galore for making the most of a small garden, with quirky touches, using recycled objects and encouraging wildlife. A variety of shrubs and perennials jostle in abundance in shady and sunny areas, attracting bees and butterflies, newts and damselflies enjoy the small pond and there’s a sedum green roof with solitary bee house. Driftwood is used to display sculptures, the dining area is musically themed and chimney pots hold a collection of hostas.

• Where: Little Owls, 27 Russell Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, PO13 9HR

Mottisfont Abbey

Famous for the national collection of pre-1900 shrub roses, many draped over arches, in the lovely walled garden. This romantic garden also has herbaceous borders, a colourful winter garden and the latest development is an innovative new kitchen garden, which reflects the medieval history and productive past. The landscape is a haven for wildlife and ideal for a relaxing stroll to admire stately trees and the flowing stream.

• Where: Mottisfont, Romsey, SO51 0LP

• When: Open daily (10-5); NT members free, Admission £15.80, children £7.90

Old Camps

Take inspiration from the various garden areas around the contemporary home on the site of a Roman camp and bath house. Visitors will discover traditional herbaceous borders, Mediterranean and desert beds, prairie planting billowing with drifts of echinacea, rudbeckia and ornamental grasses, an exuberant exotic border of cannas and bananas, potted lemons in a sheltered al fresco dining area, as well as a decorative potager with companion planting schemes.

• Where: Old Camps, Headley, RG19 8LG

Old Thatch

Here you will find a classic ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottage overlooking a stretch of the Basingstoke canal with a succession of blooms from bulbs, through roses and clematis and homegrown annuals pollinated by the resident bees.

Areas are divided by low hedges, simple fences and archways smothered with climbers, while dotted throughout are quirky focal points created from a range of rustic recycled items. Children will delight in the donkeys and sheep in the surrounding fields as well as an I-spy quiz.

• Where: Old Thatch, Winchfield, Hook, RG27 8DD

• When: NGS: June 16, Sept 01 (2-6); Admission £4, children free, home-made teas

Redenham Park House

Elegant gardens extend out from the handsome house, which was built in 1784, with a classic formal rose garden of parterres filled with white roses, deep herbaceous borders that peak in late summer with hot tones, followed by an area of calm greens as an interlude.

Pause here and then continue on to enjoy textural perennial borders in soft hues before stepping through a gate into the large productive garden with espaliered fruit, neat rows of vegetables, blowsy roses and flamboyant dahlias and a large glasshouse. Complete your visit with a delicious tea in the thatched pool house.

• Where: Redenham Park House, Andover, SP11 9AQ

• When: NGS: Sept 18, 19 (2.30-4.30); Admission £5.50, children free, cream teas; Visits also by arrangement Sept 1 – Oct 31

Spring Pond

Harmonious and romantic, this is a classic English country garden festooned with roses and beautifully co-ordinated planting, much of which has come from the nearby acclaimed Hardy Garden Plants Nursery.

Created from a blank canvas with structure from hornbeam and yew hedging, infilled with abundance, herbaceous borders edge lawns to a formal pond and an eye-catching gazebo. Admire also an arboretum of ornamental trees, a conservatory with Mediterranean and tropical plants, as well as marginal planting around the original pond inspired by the Longstock Park Water Gardens.

• Where: Spring Pond, Laverstock, RG28 7PD

• When: NGS: June 16 (2-5); Admission £6, children free, home-made teas; Visits also by arrangement May 1 – Sept 30


The picturesque garden is set in water meadows by the River Test with lovely views to Stockbridge Down. Developed over 45 years from bramble and weed infested rough ground the gardens now extends gently out from the house with seven loosely linked garden ‘rooms’ that have individual character but with common motifs of circles and ovals to give a sense of harmonious continuity. This is a cottage garden for the 21st century, with abundant herbaceous planting, vivid colours and an ever-changing display of half-hardy plants in pots.

• Where: Terstan, Longstock, SO20 6DW

• When: NGS: June 23, July 21, Sept 8 (2-6); Admission £5, children free, home-made teas; Visits also by arrangement Apr 1 – Sept 30

Tylney Hall Hotel

With formal Italian and Dutch gardens laid out by architect Seldon Wornum in 1900 and naturalistic water gardens designed by the renowned Gertrude Jekyll, a visit to Tylney Hall is like stepping back in time. The echoes of a vast private estate still hang in the air despite it now being a hotel for the 21st century guest. You half expect a hastily moving maidservant to bustle out from behind a hedge reminiscent of a scene from Downton Abbey.

There is an element of the sleeping beauty about the gardens as they continue to be restored and rejuvenated with development projects, since the property became a hotel in 1984, that include planting around 250 trees and 200 rhododendrons, restoring the lake bridge, planting the kitchen garden and creating a herb garden, the produce from both now destined for the hotel’s kitchen.

• Where: Tylney Hall Hotel, Rotherwick, RG27 9AZ

• When: NGS: May 19, June 9 (10-4); Admission £5, children free, light refreshments

Weir House

Blessed with a stunning riverside location, the gardens include sweeping lawns backed by mellow walls, formal yew buttresses, mixed perennials billowing through to autumn, a contemporary styled prairie garden around a swimming pool and a large vegetable and cut flower garden. Natural habitats for wildlife guide the development and there are walkways through wooded areas as well as a boardwalk above a bog garden.

• Where: Weir House, Old Alresford, SO24 9DG

• When: NGS: June 9, Sept 8 (2-5)

Admission £5, children free, home-made teas; Visits also by arrangement to Dec 31

West Green

The elegant gardens at West Green House offer inspiration for both productive and ornamental planting for long-term interest. Marylyn Abbott, who leases the house from the National Trust, has created this renowned paradise over many years, combining both traditional and contemporary ideas.

Highlights include the herbaceous borders, a walk around the lake, the water garden with fountain jets, the garden of the five bridges, the quirky dragon garden and decorative potager. Visitors return again and again to enjoy the ever-changing planting and delicious fare in the tearoom, as well as special events from the stylish opera evenings to garden workshops.

• Where: West Green House Garden, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8JB

• When: Wednesday through Sunday and BHM until October 27 (11-4.30); Adults £8, Children £4; Free to National Trust members


• Where are the best walks in Hampshire? – With the New Forest, South Downs and a picturesque coastline, Hampshire is an amazing place for a walk. We round up a few of our favourites

Houghton Lodge is a Grade II* listed “Cottage Orné”, surrounded by mature trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the famous River Test and is arguably one of the most beautiful privately owned gardens to visit in Hampshire.

The walled garden boasts vast espalier fruit trees enclosed by a historical chalk cob wall. It provides protection to 32 different varieties of apple tree, many of which cannot be bought today. There is a wonderful herb garden with pharmaceutical, medicinal, natural dye, pot pourri and tea beds. The fruit cage is home to both golden and red raspberries. Vegetables grow in raised beds, and you will see wild flowers, sweet peas and dahlias providing a kaleidoscope of summer and autumn colour. Not to be missed is the magnificent espaliered pear tree growing on the eastern wall- which is now over 52’ long!

On leaving this part of the garden the scents and colours of the magnificent 300 foot herbaceous border are an impressive sight indeed. Ambling down to the Test, visitors can engage with our ever-friendly Alpacas, Tom, Dick and Harry. They are quiet fellows enjoying the natural meadow and curiously observing visitors. Feel the coolness from the famous river’s waters meandering its way through the 14 acre estate. On approaching the wooden bridge, visitors need to be wary of our resident topiary dragon who enjoys puffing his welcome.

A gentle walk up to the house gives the visitor a wonderful opportunity to take in and look at the marvellous view. What a sight to behold! Nearby, the woodland walk offers an enchanting mix of the quiet and scents of ancient times. On approaching the house again, the statue of Mercury announces the abundance of Delphiniums in all their spiked glory. Before returning to the walled garden, see the splendour of the semi formal box -hedging that makes up the stunning peacock topiary garden.

Things To Do in Hampshire

There are so many top things to do in Hampshire, a county famous for the home of Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle to one of the UK’s tallest publicly accessible buildings outside of London at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.

From the picturesque rolling countryside of the New Forest to the lively coastal cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, you’ll never be short of ideas of what to do in Hampshire. The New Forest stretches across 140,000 acres of ancient woodland and unspoilt grassland. It’s one of the most beautiful national parks in the UK and home to dozens of fascinating historic villages.

Hampshire is also home to Winchester. Most famous for one of the country’s oldest cathedrals, Winchester Cathedral, this ancient city was once the capital of England. Find out more about the county’s towns and villages with our interactive map of Hampshire.

With its clear chalk streams, thatched cottages and cosy pubs, Hampshire’s countryside is a hidden gem for visitors. Here you’ll find historic buildings, fascinating interactive museums and bustling market towns, together with delicious local produce and gentle scenic walks.

Things to do in Hampshire this weekend

Many of Hampshire’s tourist attractions and points of interest are open all year round so find something to do today with activities listings each showing a map and opening times for your convenience. Or why not browse our events guide to find out what’s on in Hampshire today or this week.

If you love to shop, Gunwharf Quays is one of Hampshire’s best days out and is far more than shopping. With over 90 premium retail outlets and up to 60% off the RRP, plus over 30 delicious restaurants, Gunwharf Quays really will leave you spoilt for choice.

Visit today to experience the idyllic South Coast setting while you save on your favourite designer brands. But it doesn’t stop there…on top of late-night shop and restaurant opening there is a Vue Cinema, Bowlplex and Grosvenor Casino. You many come for the shopping, but you’ll stay for the views.

Top 11 things to do in Hampshire

  • Marwell Zoo, Winchester
  • Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
  • Mid-Hants Railway ‘Watercress Line’, Alresford
  • Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium, Winchester
  • Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery, Whitchurch
  • Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
  • Beaulieu National Motor Museum, New Forest
  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth
  • Forest Leisure Cycling, Burley
  • Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover
  • Jane Austen’s House Museum, Alton

From period dramas such as the hit ITV show Downton Abbey to action movies including James Bond, Hampshire has set the scene for a wide variety of productions. Take a tour and find out more about some of the county’s best known film locations.

For ideas and inspiration on where to stay, what’s on and things to do in Hampshire visit the official website, Visit-Hampshire.

List of things to do & places to visit for days out in Hampshire

For more information about Hampshire, including ideas for days out, attractions and events, view the list below for information on things to do and towns and villages in Hampshire. Use the ‘map view’ button to find something near you.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is world famous, with plenty of outstanding features set in 180 acres that provide a wonderful environment for families, and free entry for the kids!

There are exciting play features that are suitable for all abilities, such as bamboo tunnels with a wobbly bridge, a fabulous tree house and a relaxing flying carpet swing! Kids can discover the natural environment in a fun way at the Education Garden, plus a number of seasonal self-guided activity trails are available. Geocaching (an outdoor treasure hunting game) is also available, so check online for details of this before you visit.

There are so many amazing areas to discover, such as the Bog Garden, the Gurkha Memorial Garden, Magnolia Avenue, Acer Valley, Hydrangea Walk, the Meadow, and Himalayan Valley to name a few! There is also a Spring Walk, a Winter Garden, plus Ampfield Wood Valley, which sometimes contain delightful Saddleback pigs to help clear the scrubland!

There is always something to interest you, whatever time of year you visit, with over 42,000 plants from around the world to discover, a welcoming restaurant and tearoom, plus a number of events and bonus exhibitions throughout the year. Yay!

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