28 March 2024

11 great gardens to see tulips in all their glory

28 March 2024

Tulip season is in full swing, with everything from dainty types to elegant lily-flowered varieties and frilly parrot show-offs on display.

So, put your sunglasses on and find some inspiration in these gardens, where tulips are the showstoppers…

1. Arundel Castle, West Sussex

Held every April, the castle’s tulip festival is reputed to be one of the top tulip displays in Europe, set against the dramatic backdrop of the castle gardens.

This year’s event features more than 100,000 tulips of all shapes, colours and sizes and showcases more than 120 different named tulips planted by award-winning head gardener Martin Duncan and his team. There’s an array of captivating varieties, including ‘Foxy Foxtrot’, ‘Purple Passionale’, ‘White Triumphator’, ‘Angelique’, ‘Madame Lefeber’, ‘Curley Sue’ and ‘Flaming Spring Green’.

2. Keukenhof, Holland

There will be an anniversary exhibition this year as Keukenhof, one of the world’s most famous bulb gardens, celebrates its 75th jubilee. Home to a staggering seven million spring-flowering bulbs including tulips and daffodils, over 79 acres, visitors can also admire the accompanying art sculptures and waterways.

The season lasts until May 12, after which the bulbs are dug up enabling the cycle of autumn planting, spring flowering and summer harvesting to start anew. New designs are created every year.

3. Newby Hall & Gardens, near Ripon, North Yorkshire

The garden team at Newby Hall, famed for its eye-catching 172m-long double herbaceous border, has planted over 8,500 tulips this year for extra flower power. Visitors can enjoy the late spring blooms in Sylvia’s garden, the rose garden and the white garden.

The location is often used in film and screen productions such as Peaky Blinders, Victoria, and Gentleman Jack, and boasts 14 stunning garden ‘rooms’, two heritage orchards and 30 acres of woodland, as well as its stunning double border.

4. Hampton Court Palace Tulip Festival, East Molesey, Surrey 

The royal palace will burst into colour with over 100,000 bulbs for its annual tulip festival (Apr 15-May 6), one of the UK’s largest displays of planted tulips, as the bright blooms burst from every corner of the formal gardens and historic cobbled courtyards. Hampton Court Palace has a long association with the elegant tulip, as former resident Queen Mary II was a keen horticulturist and collected exotic plants.

New this year, thousands of tulips will spill from a Victorian horse cart in the heart of the palace courtyards, giving the appearance of a Dutch flower seller’s cart in this dramatic Tudor space. Dazzling displays will feature across the gardens, including ‘floating’ bowls in the Great Fountain. Over 10,000 bright bulbs will make for the perfect photo opportunity in Fountain Court, at the heart of Queen Mary II’s baroque palace.

5. Glebe House, Abergavenny, Gwent 

This one-and-a-half acre private garden in the beautiful  Usk valley will open for two days in April (Apr 27 and 28) for the National Garden Scheme (NGS – pre-booking essential) which raises money for caring and nursing charities. Visitors can admire borders bursting with spring colour, including vibrant tulips, narcissi and camassias. The orchard is also densely underplanted with a succession of bulbs. (Other dates available by arrangement.)

6. Burnby Hall Gardens Tulip Festival, Pocklington, York

The popular annual tulip festival (Apr 27-May 11) sees a cascade of colours throughout these historical gardens, with more than 18,000 tulips (130 varieties) formally displayed in tubs and flower beds across the site.

Other highlights of these extensive gardens include the Upper and Lower Lakes, home to more than 100 types of hardy waterlily and home to thousands of carp, roach and rudd. There are also several formal gardens around the lakes and a new, more contemporary walled garden created in 2022.

7. Morton Hall Gardens Tulip Festival, Redditch, Worcestershire

From May 4-6, visitors can browse more than 100 tulip varieties in pots, borders and three cut flower marquees, with the ticket sales supporting costume-making at the RSC. Bloms Bulbs, winner of 70 Chelsea Gold medals, supply the bulbs and will be on site with expert advice on your favourite choices. You’ll see how the team use tulips in their own style, creating a tapestry in the borders with carefully chosen colours and patterns.

8. Broughton Grange, Oxfordshire

Chelsea designer Tom Stuart-Smith designed the centrepiece large terraced walled garden in this attractive Oxfordshire setting, with the gardens blending into the countryside and beautiful displays of bulbs including tulips, followed by gorgeous herbaceous planting which blooms later in summer. Visit on April 28 for NGS.

9. Ulting Wick, Maldon, Essex

Listed black barns provide the backdrop for vibrant and exuberant planting in eight acres of garden. Tulips and other bulbs create flowing innovative spring planting, and there are also herbaceous borders, a pond, woodland and mature weeping willows to peruse, as well as a kitchen garden, a drought tolerant perennial and mini annual wildflower meadows. Visit on April 28 for NGS.

10. Dunsborough Park, Ripley, Surrey

This magnificent 100-acre estate, which dates back to the dissolution of the monasteries, comprises a series of historical gardens brought to life through vistas and garden architecture, laid out in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It features a mass of vibrant tulips in spring, garden rooms, lush herbaceous borders, standard wisteria, 70ft ginkgo hedge, potager and a 300-year-old mulberry tree. Open Apr 14 for NGS; also open Apr 19-21 and 25-27.

11. Tulip mania at Dyrham Park, nr Bath, South Gloucestershire

Tulips have long graced the garden of Dyrham Park and provide a spring highlight, usually rearing their heads in April and staying visible for a few weeks into May. This year, you’ll be able to see 16,000 of them on a visit from Apr 15-May 6.

As well as a magnificent display along the long Avenue leading to the house entrance, tulips will be out in the borders around Sphynx Court and dotted jewel-like through the pear orchard. The newly created parterre (set to be finished in May), which links the house to the garden, will be home to a brand-new variety of tulip inspired by Dyrham Park. Blue Diamond have donated 1,000 tulip bulbs, which will be grown in pots, and have introduced tulip ‘Dyrham Park’.

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