1. Native English bluebells at Hatchlands Park, near Guildford
Delicate bluebells form a carpet of violet in the ancient woodlands at Hatchlands Park. On your way look out for pretty wood anemones and violets scattered along the Long Walk, followed by the cheery sight of cowslips in the meadow and May blossom. The garden is deeply scented lilac and skimmia, with golden daffodils under the magnificent London plane tree. The fruit trees in the Walled Garden will be in blossom in April and May, including mature plum, pear, apple and cherry trees. Keep an ear out for bird song from the chiffchaffs, treecreepers and nuthatches.

The Forage Walk at Hatchlands has a swathe of native trees, designed to be nectar-rich to help our invertebrates, filled with hedgerow fruit for our bird species – and providing food and homes for our resident dormice.

2. Swathes of daffodils at Polesden Lacey, near Dorking
Swathes of heritage daffodils in the garden make Polesden Lacey as pretty as a picture in March and April. A new Blossom Lawn was planted last year, with the first signs of spring blossom emerging on the young trees. While the mature orchard is the place to stop for a picnic and see heavy clusters of beautiful pink apple blossom on the traditional local varieties of apple tree. It’s the National Trust’s fifth annual Blossom Week from 20 to 27 April, when the Trust urges people everywhere to celebrate this annual natural feel-good spectacle. People are invited to share their own creative responses to blossom using #BlossomWatch.

In May wisteria flowers on the towers of the walled garden and pergolas in heady-fragranced purple blooms. The beds of irises and alliums are a delight to seek out in the separate rooms of the walled garden, a blue and purple delight.

Plus don’t miss: the new exhibition and trail at Polesden Lacey: 27th April – 25th October

The Last Tree and the Art of Nature in collaboration Luke Adam Hawker
Polesden Lacey is collaborating with best-selling author and celebrated nature artist Luke Adam Hawker. Discover the beauty of nature through art as you view the original illustrations and pages from his book ‘The Last Tree’. Inside the house, Hawker’s artwork will be exhibited alongside Mrs Greville’s Fabergé and art collection. Continue outside to find a new way to connect with nature as you observe and draw the trees at Polesden Lacey. Take the time to be curious, listen to the rustling leaves and feel in the moment with your surroundings.

3. The famous bluebell slopes at Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming
In early spring see the magnificent Magnolia trees with waxy blooms and paths lined with daffodils in the Upper Arboretum. Rhododendrons and camelias also bring bursts of colour from the entrance kiosk and throughout the Upper Arboretum. Many kinds of cherries can be found in the arboretum providing flowers throughout the spring.

As spring progresses the famous Winkworth bluebells start to emerge, carpeting banks of the arboretum in a sea of purple. In wilder parts of the arboretum look out for native flowers including wood anenome, celandine, primose and snakeshead fritillary. Finally as spring merges into the summer the Azaleas Steps down to the Boathouse can offer a stunning riot of colour, alongside the lupins in The Bowl.

  • Magnolia Walks – Saturday 6th April 2024: The cotton candy pinks and whites of blossom mark that spring is here, and the weather is getting warmer. Visit Winkworth Arboretum for a chance to enjoy this cheerful time of year. One of the many tree species that Dr Wilfred Fox, creator of Winkworth Arboretum, planted at Winkworth was magnolia. There are a great range of varieties that provide huge, showy blooms in pink, whites and purples. Join us for a free guided tour of the arboretum where our expert volunteer guide will take you on a walk around the arboretum highlighting the many varieties that form part of the landscape of Winkworth.

National Trust Head Gardener Graham Alderton said: “I can think of nowhere better to be than an ancient English woodland in April and May, resplendent in fragrant bluebells, fresh greens of emerging leaves and dappled sunlight. Winkworth Arboretum takes this picture of traditional beauty and merges it with exotic Japanese acers. Their papery thin leaves slowly unfurl in the lower canopy, providing a contrasting colour palette of acid green and vibrant reds. Every corner of the site has something to see and to take your breath away. It’s all set in 120 acres of the Surrey Hills which provides views across the verdant rolling landscape, shade under the Lime trees and the gentle movement of water around the meadow and through the wetlands. Spring has all the promise of regeneration and new life and is the favourite season for many people, myself included.”

4. Rhododendrons in bloom and goslings at Claremont Landscape Garden, near Esher
Experience the joyful landscape at Claremont this spring as baby goslings taking their first wobbly steps by the lakeside. In May stroll through corridors of rhododendrons, take a boat out onto the lake from Easter onwards, and feed the tiny ducklings and goslings, who live there.

Designed by some of the finest landscape gardeners of the time, spring time is the perfect opportunity to explore the many features that make this place so special. From the grass amphitheatre, lake and Nine Pin Alley to the breathtaking views and secret corners. On a springtime walk, listen out for the sounds of woodpeckers and thrushes, and keep your eyes open for shyer visitors such as roe deer.

  • Guided walks at Claremont Landscape Garden: the National Trust’s heritage volunteers run free regular walks. On the Friday History Walks, find out about the lives of Claremont’s historic residents and the famous landscape gardeners that had a hand in creating the spectacular views and architectural features that make Claremont so special.
  • Tuesday Tree Walks are an opportunity take a closer look at trees that were planted at Claremont and why they are so special. Covering a different subject each week there’s always something new to discover, moving through the seasons.

5. Leafy towpath walks and cream teas at Dapdune Wharf, Guildford
The visitor centre and tearoom at Dapdune Wharf opens on 23 March, just as the apple and cherry blossom is lighting up the paddock. Will the swans choose to nest in the creek? They often do – and a walk along the towpath will reveal lots of new life including ducklings, baby coots and moorhens and green shoots from the waterside vegetation. The popular Book Shed is open at Dapdune Wharf with fascinating second-hand books to choose from, while you enjoy a cream tea in the tearoom.

For the adventurous: kayaking and paddleboarding are also available this spring from Fluid Adventures at Dapdune Wharf or Roar Outdoor in Godalming. Boating at Dapdune offer self-drive boat hire. And of course, the trip boats will be raring to go, with a mixture of booking and walk-ups available. There is a thriving programme of guided walks on our website for those who enjoy a good stomp.

6. Mindful May and guided walks in the Surrey Hills
From heathland to chalk grassland and ancient woodland, the varied sites of the Surrey Hills burst into life at this time of year. Awaken your senses with the colourful and varied activities across the Surrey Hills and discover the calming effect of nature during the Mindful May events season at Box Hill.

Throughout April and May, enjoy free guided walks of the historic Rhododendron Walk at Leith Hill as well as an art workshop and a photographic workshop in the bluebell wood, Frank’s Wood (booking essential). Leith Hill Tower is open every weekend, with views from the highest point in South East England, while Leith Hill Place re-opens from mid May after a year of conservation work.

At Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl come along to the Heathland Discovery Day on 28th April. This free event is the ideal chance to find out more about the wildlife on the heathland and why it’s such a rare habitat. Meet heathland reptiles, join a walk and chat with the rangers. On 18th May is the Wellbeing fair at Hindhead, with talks, yoga, and mindfulness sessions. Browse the artisan stalls featuring healthy food, drinks, and arts and crafts, in collaboration with Surrey Hills Enterprises.

7. Meadow wildflowers along the River Thames at Runnymede
Walk, picnic or just relax by the river – with its meadows, woodlands, wetlands, and accessible stretches of the Thames, Runnymede is a great place to reconnect with nature. In spring time the floodplain water subsides and meadow grasses and wild flowers take over, making a haven for wildlife. By late spring damselflies and butterflies can be see flitting among the wildflowers.

Take the opportunity to explore Coopers Hills Wood and Langham Ponds, then walk along the river where sightings of goslings, cygnets and ducklings mark the change in season. The site of the historic signing of the Magna Carta is also home to poignant memorials and arresting artworks reflecting on democracy and freedom. New accessible pathways mean that visitors can explore more and come together at this historic gathering place.

8. Petworth House and Park’s new Spring Festival, 23 March to 14 April, 10am to 5pm, normal admission charge only (free to members)
Petworth is the place to be this spring, when it hosts its first Spring Festival, in acres of Pleasure Gardens swathed in daffodils. Over 50,000 bulbs carpet the grounds in a mouth-watering mix of gold, yellow and cream blooms. Pick up a free spring programme for a daffodil map, botanical drawings of the different varieties on display, and a what’s on guide.

The Festival launches with a weekend Makers Market selling artisan gifts followed by a spring-themed programme of creative workshops including willow weaving and painting. A Festival highlight is a series of free horticultural talks and demonstrations by garden specialists including BBC Gardener’s World presenter Frances Tophill, in Petworth’s Garden Theatre. Events on set dates between 23rd March and 14th April, no booking required.

For families, a colourful free map and trail booklet leads to a spring adventure that weaves through the gardens along buggy-friendly paths. Stop off at six wildlife-willow sculptures on the way – from slugs and frogs to bees and butterflies – for fun games and activities including daffodil hoopla target and butterfly noughts and crosses. There’s a week of craft activities too, where kids can design a mini spring wreath or a cherry blossom card or bookmark to take home. 3 to 10 March, 10.30am to 3.30pm, £3, no need to book.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/sussex/Petworth for more information.

 

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