The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens at Ampfield near Romsey in southern Hampshire are 180 acres of sheer bliss. Effectively gardens for all seasons, they are visited for all reasons too. In my recent visit, at the end of May 2017, I encountered visitors of all ages. There is plenty of seating tucked away in quiet corners, just far away from each other, yet near enough for short walks.
One regular visitor whom I met in the late afternoon, was sitting under the trees near Jermyns House. He frequently spends a few quiet minutes there after a busy day, wrapped in the peace and quiet, before making his way home more relaxed. That’s real garden therapy and much as the late Sir Harold Hillier must have done in quiet moments over the years, surveying the work of his labours, as he added to his collection of plants and shrubs.
The Gardens make an ideal venue for schools groups to learn about the countryside, flora and fauna – and for a picnic lunch.
The sandy soil of this part of Hampshire is ideal for a blaze of colour from the far slopes of the Himalayas – a splash of Asian magic, woven into the Garden’s ‘ green tunnels.’
Wherever you wander the landscape changes. An intriguing and eclectic collection of over 100 sculptures is in the Gardens from 13 May to 15 October this year. Many in the form of animals, birds and insects, they are sculpted from metal, ceramics, wood and various other mediums. For the 18th year, wherever you look; through the trees and bushes; around the lake; on the trees you come across diversity of shapes and sizes.
Wherever you walk, visitors are enjoying the spectacle, resting their legs or just having a quiet cup of tea.
Words and pictures TONY KNIGHT ( copyright 2017 )