North Shropshire Gardens
"Such gardens are not made by singing 'Oh how beautiful' and sitting in the shade"
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 grottoes.
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.
Close by is Wollerton Old Hall Garden, a charming 16th century plantsman's garden by John and Lesley Jenkins, made up of atmospheric "rooms", a knot garden, lime allee and classic English summer flowers that will make your eyes misty. Very up to date, very imaginative, truly memorable.
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.