The UK is famed for its public gardens and has more open to the public than anywhere else in the world. In fact, many people travel to the UK from all over the world solely to visit its stunning, often classic, occasionally contemporary, gardens. It's most famous gardens include the iconic Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent and Chelsea Physic Garden. Both are steeped in history and are manicured to cope with huge public interest. There are a few gardens in the UK less famed for their heritage, however, and more renowned for their unusual look. Some scale buildings, some sprout from towers, all create spectacular scenes for visitors to admire. Public gardens do not usually face too many limitations in terms of space or budget, and so designers are often given free reign to go wild with their imaginations and creative streaks. Let's take a look at the gardens that exceed all expectation and break all the rules.
World Garden at Lullingstone Castle
World Garden was the winner of the UK's Best New Tourism Project Award in 2005. The garden is set within 120 acres of picturesque Kent countryside behind the walls of one of England's oldest family estates – Lullingstone Castle. In 2005, Tom Hart Dyke created this highly unique garden and filled it with thousands of rare, incredibly beautiful plants from all over the world. There are thought to be over 8000 different types of plants within the garden, so if you're a budding horticulturist keen to learn about various different species of plant, then look no further than the World Garden. Strangely enough, Tom's inspiration for the garden was found during his 9-month kidnap ordeal in the Colombian jungle in 2000! He opened his diary and quickly began to make plans for a garden which would incorporate plants from all around the world. Visitors can see, smell and touch a whole host of horticultural gems including Hoodia gordonii - the 'stinky' Dog Pooh plant' and Dorset negra - the hottest chilli in the world.
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Dumfries, Scotland
Another of the UK's most visually unusual but wonderfully fascinating gardens is the Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Dumfries, Scotland. This 30-acre garden was created by landscape architect and architectural theorist Charles Jencks at his home in South West Scotland. Science, mathematics and spectacular landscaping combine to create this captivating garden. Inspired by concepts such as black holes and fractals, there also exists a distinct oriental influence which is undoubtedly a result of Jenck's late wife Maggie Keswick who was skilled in Asian garden design. This otherwise private garden is opened to the public on one special day every year as part of Scotland's 'Garden's Scheme', raising money for 'Maggie's Centres' – a cancer care charity. This is an extraordinary garden quite unlike any other garden anywhere, so if you're prepared to face the excited crowds all determined to see this garden phenomenon, it's definitely worth a visit.
Poison Gardens, Northumberland, England
The Poison Garden is one of Alnwick Garden's biggest attractions. A personal project of the Duchess of Northumberland, it consists of 100 plants of varying degrees of deadliness. It is a garden so deadly that visitors only gain entry if they're escorted by a fully-qualified guide and many of the plants have even had to acquire a special licence from the Home Office to be displayed in the garden. Plants include mandrake, which is a strong narcotic and opium. First opening it's doors to the public in 2004, the Poison Garden has since inspired the children's books 'The Poison Diaries', written by Maryrose Wood. The Duchess was inspired to create The Poison Garden after visiting a poison garden in Padula in Italy.
The UK has so many gardens open to the public that it is difficult to pick a favourite, but it is quite clear that some of the most popular are those that a little more unusual in the way they look. The three gardens listed here are certainly that and they definitely capture visitors' imaginations with their incredible collection of plants and stunning designs. For anyone looking for a memorable day out that the whole family will enjoy, a visit to one of the UK's more visually unusual gardens comes highly recommended.
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