North Shropshire Gardens

Here in the north of the county you will find some of Shropshire's best gardens and landscapes - both natural and man-made.

The landscape is one of meres and mosses, full of wildlife, with mile upon mile of languid canals that link Market Drayton and Whitchurch in the east to Oswestry in the west.

Hawkstone Historic Park & Follies near Wem was Britain's first theme parks. Built in the mid 1700's there's not a ride in sight. Set in 400 acres of Grade I listed landscape it has been a favourite with visitors (and filmmakers for years). The BBC adaptation of the CS Lewis classic story, The Chronicles of Narnia, was filmed at Hawkstone in 1988 for its dramatic scenery and the mythology surrounding the site, including associations with the legend of King Arthur.

Myths and legends abound here - stories have been told about the giants, Tarquin and Tarquinius (after whom the Giant's Well was named). In 1920 a small stone cup was found hidden in the base of an eagle statue that stood in the Grotto. Research has suggested that it is the vessel that inspired the medieval Holy Grail legend. Today the Follies is a woodland fantasy with cliffs, crags, caves, deep woods and a series of extraordinary monuments built over 200 years ago.

Visit Dorothy Clive Garden near Market Drayton, originally designed by Colonel Harry Clive as a token of his love for his wife, Dorothy. Explore the garden including a laburnum tunnel, alpine screen with pool, rose walk, edible woodland, seasonal borders and rhododendron filled woodland with waterfall. Relax in the tearoom with terrace lawn and enjoy spectacular views.

Market Drayton in North Shropshire is fortunate to have more than one beautiful garden to make your fingers green with envy.

There have been gardens at Hodnet Hall near Market Drayton since the 11th century when the Heber-Percy family constructed their first house in the parkland and today, the 60 plus acres are renowned as amongst the finest landscape gardens in the country. Forest trees provide a wonderful backdrop for formal gardens planted to give delight during every season, woodland walks amongst flowering shrubs and a daisy chain of ornamental pools. Stop at the half-timbered restaurant which serves lunches and teas. See their website for open days.

To find inspiration for your own garden, visit Mucklestone Nurseries & Woodland Gardens near Market Drayton. They provide a garden consultation service and are specialists in meadow, moorland and marshland plants. Mucklestone Nurseries is in a stunning location, with views across to North Wales and Shropshire, and across to Mucklestone Church. The Nurseries form part of Church Farm which has extensive native woodlands, ponds and natural meadows. Explore the garden areas at any time at no charge or check their website for open days.

Nearby is Wollerton Old Hall Garden, a modern garden in the English Garden tradition, set around a 16th Century Hall House. The garden has been designed and developed by Lesley and John Jenkins since 1984 and is tended by Head Gardener Andrew Humphris. It has a tearoom and plant nursery, where many of the plants for sale have been grown at Wollerton.

Supporting the many gardens in North Shropshire is a host of nurseries and garden centre's. Hadnall Country Garden Plant Centre near Shrewsbury specializes in roses but offers much more. A fantastic range of indoor and outdoor plants, gardening equipment, clothing and giftware awaits you at Moreton Park Garden Centre near Oswestry.

North Shropshire, or rather the small market town of Wem in North Shropshire, holds an annual sweet pea festival. The Wem Sweet Pea Festival is held each year to celebrate the close association the town has with sweet peas, which all started over 100 years ago when 18th century nurseryman Henry Eckford moved to Wem and started what was to become a seeds business famous throughout the world.

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Just over the Shropshire border…

Cholmondeley Castle Gardens; a truly romantic setting and a great place for a picnic. The castle is surrounded by sweeping lawns and a variety of mature trees, including cedars of lebannon, oak, and chestnut. The gardens surrounding the castle provide a lovely mix of colour and height, with intriguing walks around the lake. There is a temple water garden, rose garden, a variety of mixed borders. Plantings are planned to provide colour at all times of the year.

Chirk Castle Gardens (National Trust); with clipped yews, herbaceous borders, shrub and rock gardens. A terrace with stunning views looks out over the Cheshire and Shropshire landscape.

Powis Castle (National Trust) and the Clive of India treasure; A favourite of Prince Charles, this world-famous garden is overhung with clipped yews, shelters rare and tender plants. Laid out under the influence of Italian and French styles, it retains its original lead statues and an orangery on the terraces. High on a rock above the terraces, the castle, originally built circa 1200, began life as a medieval fortress.