27 reasons to visit Houghton Lodge Gardens in 2018

Situated in the heart of the Test Valley in Hampshire, Houghton Lodge Gardens is an enchanting, privately owned historic house, with formal and informal gardens which are open to the public from 1st April until 30th September.

If you haven’t visited before, or perhaps you need a reminder of what these special gardens offer, here’s 27 reasons why you should visit Houghton Lodge Gardens this year.

  • The season will kick start with a mini Tulip festival! (mid to end of April). This year, the beds will feature varieties such as: Tulip Jimmy (orange / terracotta), Tulip Reinaldo (black), Tulip Shirley (white / purple), Tulip Ballerina (orange), Tulip negrita (purple)… to name a few
  • Admire the swathes of daffodils that line the banks of the River Test during March and April. A beautiful spring sight as for early visitors.
  • From April to May the Apple, pear and cherry trees blossom in shades of white to deep pinks. When the wind blows, it snows natural confetti!


  • It is a place to make and create memories. Whether a family day out, group visit to the house and /or garden, a wedding ceremony or marquee reception, fishing trip, some time with friends and loved ones, a tea / coffee stop in the Honesty tea rooms or as a place to seek tranquility and a little bit of breathing space; Houghton Lodge Gardens is a hidden gem in the Test valley.
  • Beautiful flowers that blossom and bloom throughout the April to September season. From roses, peonies, spring and summer bulbs, fragrant perennials and wildflowers. You will find colour in every corner of the garden.
  • Delicious homemade cakes, brownies, biscuits and sweet delights in Honesty at Houghton Lodge Gardens tearoom. Visitors don’t need to pay garden entrance to visit the tearoom… but we’re confident you might need a little walk after enjoying the scrumptious cakes!


  • The Themed Herb Garden within the Walled Garden consists of a fragrant pot pourri area, a dyers bed that contains herbs that can be used to produce natural dyes, the Herbal tea bed with favourites; chamomile, fennel and mint and a medicinal herb area where you will find feverfew for migraine, golden oregano for toothache and angelica for indigestion.
  • On the east wall of the garden is an especially notable espalier pear – Uvedale St. Germain – with a span of over fifty feet! We are trying to get it into the Guinness Book of Records for the longest espaliered pear in the country. Especially beautiful in the spring when the white blossom lines the branches.
  • The unique architecture of the 18th century historic house attracts visitors every year. Houghton Lodge is thought to have been designed in (or around) 1793, by John Plaw – one of the pioneers of the style. It was probably intended as a fishing lodge – some fishing lodge!


  • Within the Walled Garden is the Wishing Well. This year we will be creating a Lavender border round the Wishing Well restoring the Choisya Ternata at the four corners of the Well path. The Well Border is being re-planted during spring keeping to the general theme that was first planned around the well in 1998, of soft yellow, blue, mauve and white
  • With 14 acres to explore, Houghton Lodge Gardens is much bigger than first impressions. From the water meadows, woodland & grotto, pond and walled garden, there’s plenty to discover. When you visit, pick up a copy of the visitor map, which will guide you around the gardens.
  • From Kingfishers on the River Test to bumble bees, butterflies and damselflies, you will find a variety of wildlife you will see as you wander the gardens.
  • In August and September, dazzling Dahlias provide a kaleidoscope of colour across the Walled Garden and Long Border.


  • Enjoy peace and tranquility on one of the riverside benches and watch the family of swans on the River.
  • The stunning wildflower beds in the Walled Garden include sweetpeas, poppies, cornflowers and achillea in al shades of pink, yellow and orange. A rainbow of colour and a popular spot for the bees.
  • The beautiful rose arbour is adorned with ‘American Pillar’ Roses, the arches blossom from mid June to end July. They make a stunning backdrop for photos, especially for our wedding couples who choose a beautiful English garden for their special day.
  • Our resident Alpacas Tom, Dick, Harry and Herbert are popular with our family visitors. Alpacas originate from the Andes in South America, and are very hardy, able to withstand our coldest winters because their woolen coats are so warm.


  • There are 32 varieties of ‘Heritage Apples’ within the Walled Garden. Many varieties are not available across today’s supermarkets and shops. They were in abundance around 80 years ago when apple orchards were on every corner and in most gardens, but sadly with the lack of manpower after both world wars, new farming techniques and more profitable uses of the land, the orchards were lost.
  • You won’t find a stunning historic house like Houghton Lodge anywhere else in Hampshire. Houghton Lodge is one of the finest and earliest surviving examples of a Cottage Ornée – a genre of ‘picturesque’ Gothic architecture that flourished for about 25 years from 1790. Today the house is Grade II* listed and regularly attracts visits from students of architecture and has become one of the must see houses to visit #Hampshire has to offer, and arguably one of the most beautiful privately owned historic houses and gardens in Hampshire.
  • Visit the beautiful Topiary Peacock garden, with these beautiful birds crafted out of Box and Yew. Take a seat and see how many you can count!
  • Don’t miss the impressive peony walk. From the end May / beginning of June the glamorous, blousy blooms line the paths under the rose arbors with shades of pinks – from deep crimson to powder pink and delightful sweet smelling fragrances. Varieties at Houghton Lodge Gardens along Peony Walk include Inspector Laverne, Emperor of India, Cheddar Gold, Day Spring, Bowl of Beauty, August Dessert, Anna Pavlova, Sarah Bernhardt, Denise, White Wings and Kelway’s Surprise.
  • The luscious rolling green lawns with perfectly mowed stripes. The lawns stretch from the historic house down to the river Test and on certain days, they can be mesmerizing.

  • Are you brave enough to go in search of the snorting dragon?! This very special topiary dragon hides away in the darkness of the Dogwood, guarding his eggs. Beware all those who dare go near…! Created 20 years ago by Anthea Busk and her grandson Oliver (who is now 29!), he puffs away at any who dare venture near.
  • The Orchid House is situated at the back of The Orangery, and is a space dedicated to the exotic flowers. Houghton Lodge Gardens own a unique and inspiring collection that has been gathered from all over the world, which are cared for by our resident orchid expert Andy Phillips.
  • The Long Border is a magnificent border which spans the length of the east facing, outer wall of the walled garden. It is at its best in April, May, June and September when beautiful dahlias in orange, purple and red to boost the stunning autumn colour.
  • Experience tranquility by sitting on one of the many benches, seats or summer houses, where you can sit and admire the view, surrounded by nature and away from the stresses of everyday life.
  • The house and gardens at Houghton Lodge are alongside the chalk streams of the River Test. With 14 acres of water meadows and riverside walks to discover.

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