Barnsdale Gardens is the most famous garden attraction in the county. Situated near Exton, it attracts thousands of visitors every year, who come to enjoy the magnificent gardens which were built by Britain’s best loved gardener, the late Geoff Hamilton, star of Gardener’s World.
At Barnsdale, aswell as 38 individual gardens to explore, there is a gift shop featuring a range of exclusive Barnsdale Gardens souvenirs. Following a walk around the gardens, spend some time in the nursery where many of the specimens on display in the gardens can be purchased. There is also a lovely tearoom on site so you don't have to look far for refreshment!
Disabled visitors are very well catered for and most of the area to see is on level ground. Disabled facilities include parking, toilets, ramp access to gardens where necessary as well as three complimentary wheelchairs.
The gardens are open all year round, only closing on 24th and 25th December, and are now managed by Geoff’s son Nick. Pre-booking is not essential unless coming as a coach group. Throughout the year a range of educational short courses are held at Barnsdale Gardens including watercolour painting, growing under shade and how to grow organically. Visit Barnsdale Gardens' website and find out more about forthcoming events.
NEW for 2011
Lands’ End won a Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show, with a design entered in conjunction with local garden designer, Adam Frost and with plants supplied by Nick Hamilton’s team at Barnsdale Gardens.
The Lands’ End Across the Pond garden, which won praise from judges and visitors alike at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, is now available to view at the clothing company’s head office on Lands’ End Way, Oakham. So come and visit this Gold Medal gardeng and enjoy the popular outlet store: Lands’ End Outlet Store, Lands’ End Way, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6US
Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue
The fascinating yet tranquil Yew Tree Avenue at Clipsham is over 200 years old, consisting of over 150 clipped Yew Trees in all manner of unusual shapes.
Some of the more unusual topiaries include a man on the moon and a range of animal characters. The topiary was begun in 1870 by the Clipsham Estate Head Forester, and soon became a tradition which continued through the years.
Once better known as being the carriage drive to Clipsham Hall, the Avenue, which costs nothing to spend time in, is now a pleasant place to sit and perhaps enjoy a picnic in the summer.
The historic Wing Maze is thought to be one of the last remaining turf mazes in England, dating back to Medieval times, and is therefore an important local feature for Rutland. It measures around 14 meters in diameter and consists of one single grass path which winds its way around and back on itself before ending its journey in the centre of the maze.
It is a matter of controversy as to the exact use of or meaning of the Maze, but some believe that wrongdoers would be forced around the Maze on their hands and knees and made to repent for their actions. The Leicester and Rutland Directory of 1846 has another explanation for its use though, claiming it as “an ancient maze, in which the rustics run at the parish feast”
The Barnsdale Drought Garden and Arboretum was designed by the late Geoff Hamilton, creator of Barnsdale Gardens and is set on a south-facing clay slope at Barnsdale, accessible from the A606 Oakham-Stamford road.
The Arboretum shows the species of trees which can be found around the reservoir.
The Drought Garden has survived many a hot dry summer and even penetrating frosts. Admission is free and the garden is open from March to October.
For more information about the Drought Garden & Arboretum, contact the Tourist Information Centre at Sykes Lane, Empingham on 01780 686800.
A good range of garden centres and nurseries can be found throughout the county, here is a flavour of what’s on offer.
At Barnsdale Gardens, there is a dedicated nursery stocking many of the species found in the gardens themselves. There’s also a gift shop selling exclusive Barnsdale souvenirs as well as dvd’s and books.
Gates Nurseries is set just 4 miles from Oakham in Cold Overton, in an original Victorian Walled Garden (formerly part of Cold Overton Hall). The Nursery is still a family business and features a range of plants and garden furniture. There is a tea room serving light lunches and afternoon tea. In addition, a children’s play area will keep younger visitors occupied while parents take a look around.
The Herb Nursery, in Thistleton near Oakham specialises in herbs, wild flowers, cottage garden plants and Pelargoniums. The owners are proud to confirm that 95% of all plants sold are propagated and grown on site; it's open every day except at Christmas and New Year.
Greetham Garden Centre & Tea Room specialises in Clematis, but also sells a wide range of shrubs and houseplants. The team at Greetham are happy to offer advice to all gardeners whatever their horticultural problem. In addition to plants, the garden centre offers wrought iron garden furniture and range of sheds for sale. The tea room serves hot and cold food as well as coffee and afternoon tea.
The Rutland Garden Centre, in Oakham is proud to claim itself as being the gardener’s garden centre and leading horticultural centre in the region. Spread over 4.5 acres, the centre offers over 5,000 plants, shrubs and trees. A specialty of the garden centre is hanging baskets, designed and produced onsite. Open every day except Christmas and New Year.
Many private gardens in Rutland take part in The National Garden Scheme, take a look at www.ngs.org.uk for further information and to find out where your nearest open garden is situated.
Oakham and Uppingham are actively involved in the Britain in Bloom awards and both towns are a sea of colour, tended carefully by dedicated volunteers. Uppingham were the Small Town category winners, acheiving a Silver Gilt in the 2011 East Midlands in Bloom Awards and Oakham were the Town category winners, acheiving a Gold award in 2011 from East Midlands in Bloom making them regional finalists. A plaque showcasing Oakham's achievements can be found outside the county Library. Find out more on the East Midlands in bloom website and the Britain in Bloom website. Congratulations to all involved for this successfull year and beautiful towns.