Shropshire Gardens

Shropshire Gardens - A serious gardeners delight with 20 National Collections (including English Roses, Clematis, Campanula, Aralia and Tulips) and nearly 20 Plantsmen's Gardens.

If you want to find out how this nice, quiet county manages to propagate such a variety of rare, magnificent gardens, you'll have to dig deeper than the topsoil. For Shropshire is built on rocks from 11 of the 13 known geological periods - the smallest area in the world to claim so many.

Capability Brown and Gertrude Jekyll have contributed their own individual genius to the making of the Shropshire landscape; today the work goes on.

The joy engendered by the classic summer flowers of England - hollyhocks, delphiniums, lavender and campanulas - is not to be sniffed at. Oh yes it is!

Anyway, throughout Shropshire you'll find a trug-full of famous bloomers.

Near Market Drayton you can gaze at the waterfall and views from the Dorothy Clive Garden, intimate and informal with a superb woodland water garden, alpine scree and succulent borders.

To get to the 18th century, grade 1 listed landscape of Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies you must first go through Paradise (yes!) to arrive at this spectacular man-made folly of caves, cliffs and grottos.

This was Britains first ever theme park, opened in 1748 and was, more recently, the setting for the television adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia. Enchanting.

Now consider if you will the humble sweet pea. Not to be confused, of course, with the garden pea: an ingredient only rarely to be found on the menus of Shropshire's many gourmet restaurants. First grown by the 18th century nurseryman Henry Eckford, the achievement of this humble son of Shropshire is celebrated to this day. Each year, the Wem Sweet Pea Festival draws admirers from around the world. Apart from the most hardened fanatics, many go on to visit the grand gardens and other floral attractions that make Shropshire one of the most fragrant counties of England.

However, Wem is not the only one of our historic market towns that has a flower show you know. Sure enough, the country's premier famous Shrewsbury Flower Show in August confronts you with the sight of more than 3 million blooms. Show jumping, cavalry displays, crafts, arena entertainment and top military bands run throughout the day, culminating with a firework display designed to put the blooms in the shade.

No that can't be right.

And there's still more to tempt you in Shropshire's National Trust Gardens at Dudmaston and Benthall.

And just over the county border, you'll find extensive ornamental gardens dominated by a romantic Gothic castle at Cholmondeley Castle.

You'll find over a hundred private gardens open under the National Gardens Scheme. Plenty of opportunities to gather ideas and seek out that unusual plant you've always wanted.

There are also garden centres at Moreton Park Garden Centre and Bridgemere Garden World. Your fingers turn green just thinking about it. But lest you think that all Shropshire has been cultivated by the hand of man, don't miss the glacial meres and mosses around Ellesmere. Here mother nature has constructed a landscape that can show us all how it should be done.

Time to wake up and smell the flowers?