This summer has been a little bit of a drag for all involved – what with the awful weather we’ve suffered and, in and around London at least, the intense focus on the Olympics throughout the capital and the subsequent dampening effect this has had on our travel plans and commuting. However, in the face of all this, the determined parent can still hope to provide some distraction to their little ones in the shape of the RHS’ more family oriented gardens, which are growing all the time.
Although there are many such sites all over the country, we want to focus on four in particular; they are Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall of Essex, Rosemoor which is situated in Devon and Wisley in Surrey. Our justification for these choices is based on two factors, the first being that they are the most family friendly, with every one of them complemented by changing facilities and nearly universal pushchair access, the second that they are situated in popular destinations for caravanning and other family oriented holidays, making them convenient possibilities for an all-day outing.
At Harlow Carr
the major attraction will be the seasonal adventure trails you can traverse and which alternate, depending whether you visit in the summer, winter, spring or autumn – guaranteeing that you never experience the same adventure twice! Harlow Carr also hosts one of the most interactive wildlife experiences in the UK. Though not big on scale it will deliver on intimacy, with an observation beehive, various bird feeding stations and a private lake teeming with ducks. HC also houses one of the larger commercial tree houses in England that is complemented by its own log maze and the promise of a battle with ‘The Log-ness Monster’!
Second we have Hyde Hall,
which provides one of the more relaxed family experiences – think less Indiana Jones and more Mary Poppins – with dedicated outdoor meadows for picnickers and I-spy themed trails and quiz sheets designed for a more educational journey.
is probably the most diverse garden among those we’ve mentioned, at least in terms of those it can cater to. As a semi-wild site, Rosemoor supports both woodland expanses and more tame garden trails and spectator spots. As the people there will tell you, it is ‘The Brash’ that this year has become the unofficial star of Rosemoor. It has been described as ‘a natural hideaway… for all ages to enjoy’ and its bird feeding stations, giant insect life and natural pathways have carved it a reputation based on fun and learning. Similar to Harlow Carr, Rosemoor also sports seasonal adventure trails which, once completed in the free children’s trail entry book, will make the Adventurer eligible for a prize from the onsite shop.
as many other RHS gardens, will play host to the aptly titled ‘Great Garden Adventure’, that is an annual RHS endorsed gathering of families and society members focused on the interaction between children and nature. This year’s GGA promises sports day-esque events such as skittles, bean bag relays and the newly coined ‘fir cone in a spoon race’. On the nature oriented side of things, Wisley also sports a Garden Safari Trail that promises bird watching, den building and a variety of animals to sight. Also during the GGA period, which has been running from the 21st July and will continue until the 31st of August, there will be daily seminars exploring the various continental cultures of the earth through arts and crafts activities. Each continent will be designated a specific week beginning with Europe’s storytelling and paper craft groups.
Sounds exciting eh?
By Josh Ellison