Dominated by the spire of the thirteenth century Cathedral, the beautiful city of Salisbury is situated to the west of England and is nine miles south of the prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge. Before you head out on the Garden Tour, make sure you leave enough time to explore the medieval streets as well as the Cathedral Close, the Cloisters, the Salisbury Museum and Mompesson House, a beautiful eighteenth century townhouse with a walled garden. Salisbury still has a market every Tuesday and Saturday and hosts the International Arts Festival most summers.
Before you visit any of the gardens on the Tour, please check the garden’s website for opening times as some can close at short notice.
Spend the morning exploring the City on foot and then head out to Wilton House to the first garden of the Tour.
Twelve minutes by car from Salisbury is Wilton House. Lying in the centre of the village, the house is home to the Earl and Countess of Pembroke and their family. Explore the beautiful gardens and parkland which lie in an idyllic setting bordered by the Rivers Nadder and Wylye. Several events are held each year within the grounds so check out their website before visiting. Features include a Palladian Bridge, a Japanese Garden, Herbaceous Borders and a William Pye water feature.
INFORMATION: Opening times are complex and subject to change so check out their website before visiting. The grounds are wheelchair accessible although there are some ramps and gravel paths; a companion is advised. No dogs are allowed. There is a café on site.
ADDRESS: Wilton, Salisbury SP2 0BJ
FURTHER DETAILS: https://www.wiltonhouse.co.uk/
On Day 2, there are two gardens to visit about fifteen minutes from each other but please note that Houghton Lodge is not always open to the public. Stockbridge is a lovely place to have lunch and is filled with several independent shops, a butcher, delicatessen and several art galleries. As the River Test runs through the village, there is also a fishing shop.
Thirty-three minutes south-east of Salisbury is Mottisfont. It is a wonderful example of a monastic building that was transformed into a house in the sixteenth century with parts of the earlier structure still visible. Wander around the gardens which border the River Test and make sure you visit the far side of the house with the pleached lime walk created to reflect the property’s beginnings and the summerhouse which has unfortunately been vandalised. The National Trust has recently redeveloped the kitchen garden which lies within the Walled Gardens where you can also find the magnificent Rose Garden; enjoy the smell of the roses at their best, by visiting on a warm, summer’s evening when the gardens are open late. Exhibitions are often held in the house so check out the website before visiting and also make sure you visit the stunning Whistler Room.
INFORMATION: The gardens are open throughout the year except over Christmas. There are wide, accessible gravel paths through much of the grounds although the meadow walk can become boggy in wet weather. Dogs are not allowed on the formal lawns behind and in front of the house or inside the Walled Rose Gardens.
ADDRESS: Mottisfont Ln, Mottisfont, Romsey SO51 0LP
FURTHER DETAILS: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont
Houghton Lodge is sixteen miles east of Salisbury and a few miles from the flourishing town of Stockbridge. The Grade II listed fishing lodge lies on the banks of the famous fly-fishing chalk stream, the River Test, and is surrounded by five acres of garden which includes a grotto to the south-west, a magnificent walled garden, beautiful herbaceous borders and a water meadow. Parts of the garden are sometimes closed for an event but when this happens, the entrance fee is halved and the tearoom remains open.The walled garden is enclosed by a cobb wall and houses over thirty-two varieties of apple tree while the 350ft herbaceous border spans the length of the east facing outer wall. Other features include the water meadow with its resident Alapacas, the peacock topiary garden, the woodland grotto and the dragon and mercury border which was created by Anthea Busk and her grandson, Oliver.
INFORMATION: The gardens are only open part of the year, check their website for details. Due to the topography of the site, some areas in the garden are not accessible by wheelchair and mobility scooters. Dogs are allowed. There is a café on site.
ADDRESS: North Houghton, Stockbridge SO20 6LQ
FURTHER DETAILS: https://houghtonlodge.co.uk/
The following two gardens are privately owned and are not open all year.
Eighteen minutes due north of Salisbury is Heale House – make sure you follow the brown signs for the garden as the SAT NAV can take you to the wrong side of the River Avon. The gardens at Heale House are full of surprises. Entering by the small cafe, it’s as if you are entering the stage from the wings. First, the Japanese garden lies to your right while to the left is the magnificent Walled Garden, a perfect place to sit on a warm, sunny day. From here it’s a short stroll to the Terrace in front of the house with steps down to a landing stage by the River Avon. Make sure you also visit during the snowdrop season, as another part of the garden designed by Harold Peto, is open to the public.
INFORMATION: The gardens are only open for part of the year so check their website for details. Seventy per cent of the garden is accessible for wheelchair users but telephone before visiting as the car park is in a field. Dogs are not allowed. There is a café on site.
ADDRESS: Middle Woodford, Salisbury SP4 6NT
FURTHER DETAILS: https://www.healegarden.co.uk/
Cranborne Manor lies seventeen miles south-west of Salisbury and is about beauty, understatement and simplicity. There is no grand entrance at Cranborne and although the door at the far end of the Cranborne Garden Centre is not covered in ivy, it’s like entering into the pages of the book The Secret Garden. Inside the garden, there are no signs telling you where to go or what not to do, no magnificent views or brightly coloured bedding plants but instead a beautiful garden, dotted with modern sculpture. Prepared to be seduced by its charm.
INFORMATION: The gardens are open every Wednesday between 1st March and 30th September from 9.30am until 4.00pm with last entry at 3.00pm. Apart from a few areas, the majority of the Manor Garden is accessible by wheelchair. Dogs are allowed. Tickets are bought in the Shop with entry through a door at the far end of the Walled Garden. The Shop and café are part of the excellent Cranborne Garden Centre which is open all year round except over Christmas and the New Year. The Centre also has special events throughout the year so check out their website.
ADDRESS: Wimborne St, Cranborne, Wimborne BH21 5PP
FURTHER DETAILS: https://www.cranborne.co.uk/visit/