on September 15, 2009
The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland is a really lovely place to visit, as I discovered recently when in the area.I had decided to visit on the recommendation of a friend who had recently spent a day there, and had spent quite a while telling me about it afterwards. I was intrigued to find out more and visit here myself, as although I live in the North East and have visited many places in Northumberland, I had never visited The Alnwick Garden.~~~~~~~~~~~~~HOW TO GET THERE~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Alnwick Garden is situated just off the A1 at Alnwick in Northumberland, and is well signposted if travelling by car.Buses connect Alnwick to surrounding towns and also Newcastle.If travelling by train, the east coast line stops at Alnmouth which is 4 miles away.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE ALNWICK GARDEN~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Alnwick Garden consists of a number of themed gardens, water sculptures - some of which are interactive, woodland walks, visitor centre and cafe and restaurant.Ten years ago the garden site was derelict. Then the Duchess of Northumberland had a vision of creating a garden for families to enjoy, and from this vision, the project began.To this day, things are still being added to the garden, and it is being created by celebrated Belgium designers Jacques and Peter Wirtz. Their unique approach to garden design is rarely seen in public areas, so this garden provides a unique opportunity to see their work.On entering the garden, there seemed to be so much to explore and it was much larger than I imagined. We set about visiting the different gardens and features of the park.THE PAVILION AND VISITOR CENTRE - this contains places to eat, drink, shop and enjoy some nice views of the garden. In the cafe, both hot and cold food is served. You can enjoy a meal or a sandwich whilst overlooking The Grand Cascade.Locally produced pies, puddings and cakes are available in the garden's shops to take home. Also a range of plants and David Austin roses for your garden.Drinks and snacks are also available from the Visitor Centre, and it is possible to enter the Visitor Centre and shops without buying a ticket to visit the garden.THE GRAND CASCADE - This is a huge cascade water display which is the largest in the UK. There are four different displays every hour and half hour. Kids will have a great time here dodging the water jets which spray across the pathways and also high up into the air from the 162 water jets.It is advisable maybe if you are visiting with children to bring a change of clothing as they may get wet!THE SERPENT GARDEN - This is a great interactive water sculpture garden. This is another area which is great fun for kids as they can collect water in the mini tractors, paddle and explore the many ways the water moves in the serpent shape.THE ORNAMENTAL GARDEN - This garden contains over 16,000 European plants, which is the largest collection of European plants in the country. There is a pool in the middle of the garden where water flows down open pipes to the two secret gardens either side. There are some really nice quiet places to sit in this garden, and also it is a great place for children to play hide and seek.THE ROSE GARDEN - Over 3000 roses are contained in this garden, so as you can imagine it smells lovely! It is also very colourful.THE BAMBOO LABYRINTH - This is a maze of twisiting pathways through tall bamboo, designed by one of the world's top maize designers. Great fun for both children and adults.THE POISON GARDEN - This is an intriguing and fascinating garden, behind locked gates with a skull and bones sign warning these plants can kill. You are only allowed access to this garden with a guide, who will take you round and tell you all about the deadly plants here, such as belladonna, cannabis, mandrake, tobacco and deadly nightshade. We were informed that the Home Office grants a licence to Alnwick Garden in order for them to be allowed to grow the deadly plants.THE CHERRY ORCHARD - This is a recent addition to the garden and contains 350 Tai Haku cherry trees.THE TREEHOUSE - This is one of the world's largest treehouses. There are walkways and rope bridges, linking together a series of smaller houses, and at the heart of the treehouse is a restaurant. The treehouse was one of my favourite places here at the garden.It is also possible to book a table for an evening meal at the restaurant and it offers an a la carte menu in the evenings.THE WOODLAND WALK - This is a mile-long woodland walk, which offers some lovely views along the way of Alnwick Castle and the river.We spent a lovely day here, and it is obvious there has been so much thought gone into the planning and development of the garden to ensure it is a place to be enjoyed by both adults and children.There is something for everyone here, which I had not realised prior to visiting. I think I assumed it would just be a garden, and maybe not very interesting for children, but how wrong I was!It is both an ideal place to relax and also to have fun with your children, and I will return again. I am looking forward to seeing the new developments which are planned.I would also say that I noticed the garden is accessible for disabled visitors, including access to the Treehouse. Wheelchairs and scooters are also available to hire.~~~INFO~~~The garden is an evolving project, and there are many more features to be added, including a skating pond and more adventure play areas. There are also plans for five more themed gardens.Workshops, tours, talks and courses are all held at the garden, as well as planting workshops for children. Many groups and schools take advantage of these.A varied programme of events and activities are offered through the year, with music, performances, exhibitions and more. Spooky family activities are held for Halloween, and there is a great Christmas programme with lantern parades, trails, and of course Father Christmas!Much of the programme is free for visitors.Admission to the gardens is £8.00 for adults, and this includes an optional £1 donation to the Alnwick Garden Trust. Concession - £7.50, but please remember to deduct £1 if you do not wish to donate the extra £1. Children aged 16 and under the admission charge is only 1p!It is possible to buy a Friend of The Alnwick Garden pass for £20, and this gives you unlimited access all year, as well as invitations to special events.Alnwick Garden is open 364 days a year ( closed Christmas Day) from 10am - 6pm Apr-Sept, and 10am -4pm Oct-March. The Treehouse is open for evening dining. ( Tel. 01655 511852 to book a table).The Alnwick Garden is a charity, and all profits are channelled back into the garden's development.For more info regarding all the activities please visit www.alnwickgarden.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can telephone 01665 511350.
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