In spring, National Trust gardens across Hampshire reveal bright pockets of colour, as thousands of bulbs planted by garden teams the previous autumn burst into flower. Filling borders, clustered under trees and scattered across lawns, they are a glorious a sign that spring has well and truly arrived.

Scented narcissi provide splashes of sunny colour at Mottisfont, Hinton Ampner, The Vyne and Uppark, followed by mouth-watering displays of hyacinths and tulips. In late spring the woodlands beyond these gardens are carpeted in scented bluebells and other native wildflowers such as violets and celandines.

March

Mottisfont, near Romsey
Large drifts of yellow narcissi flower beneath Mottisfont’s giant veteran trees, across the lawns and throughout the Winter Garden. In the cherry orchard ‘wild’ spring treasures start to pop through the grass – naturalised narcissi, tiny pale pink species tulips and snakeshead fritillaries. Next to the stableyard, Mottisfont’s magnificent magnolia creates a huge canopy of white blossom.

Uppark, near Petersfield
Hundreds of fragrant white narcissus ‘Thalia’, and creamy white and yellow frilled variety ‘Ice Follies’ greet you just outside the main gates to these landscaped gardens. Delicate pale yellow dwarf narcissus ‘W.P Milner’ lines the driveway to the mansion house – a favourite spring display with visitors.

Keep an eye out for pale blue spring starflower and a mix of irises in the border next to the café. In the formal garden, a magnificent magnolia tree produces large waxy pink petals and perennial honesty provides a profusion of scented, lilac-white flowers that bees and butterflies love.

Hinton Ampner, near Bramdean
Yellow narcissi, tiny bright blue anemone and chequered fritillaries litter the grass beneath the trees in Hinton’s cherry orchard. Elegant large-petalled magnolias are also on show, including fragrant white variety ‘Alba’.

The Vyne, near Basingstoke
The Vyne’s spacious gardens are a glorious place to be on a sunny spring day. Daffodils litter the south drive beside the mansion. Hundreds of them line the path through the historic walled garden too. You’ll also find fresh bunches for sale there – in the little wooden kiosk by its entrance. Further afield, daffodils cluster beside The Vyne’s magnificent lake, and in the wild garden they bloom in the grass beneath bird cherry trees.

April

Mottisfont, near Romsey
Head gardener Jonny Norton reports that his team of garden volunteers have planted more bulbs than he can ever remember. In the kitchen garden you’ll find splashes of rich purple and white from variety ‘Rems Favourite’ and ‘Passionale’ – planted the length of the pergolas.  The rose garden reveals a romantic display of pastel pinks, creams and mauves from varieties including ‘Pink Diamond’ and ‘Purple Dream’. Richly scented blue hyacinths pack the parterre in front of the house, mingling with hundreds of lemon yellow tulips.

This year, you can take a little of this gorgeous colour home too. Mottisfont’s plant nursery team have prepared hyacinth pots for sale in the plant centre using the garden’s own organic compost. And don’t miss the annual chionodoxa display – thousands of these tiny blue flowers carpet the elegant Jellicoe-designed lime avenue next to the cherry orchard.

Hinton Ampner, near Bramdean
This garden is renowned for its spring bulb displays, which change every year. In the pretty setting of the walled kitchen garden are soft pink peony-shaped ‘Angelique’, which contrast deliciously with velvety rich ‘Purple Flag’ and green and ivory striped ‘Spring Green’. In the cut flower border, described by Hinton’s head gardener as a ‘jewel box of colour’, a wide selection of flowers, from tulips, narcissi, delphiniums and astrantia, to peonies, roses, alliums and irises, will create beautiful drifts of colour throughout the coming months. Cut flowers were a favourite of former owner Ralph Dutton, and you’ll find displays in the house too.

Beneath the terrace with its panoramic views lies the sunken garden, packed with yellow and purple tulips and richly scented narcissi. Nearby in the yew garden you’ll find elegant raspberry, cream and pale yellow tulip ‘Camargue’.

A 30 minute stroll across the parkland takes you into Hinton’s ancient woods, which in early May are transformed into a sea of blue as thousands of fragrant bluebells carpet the woodland floor.

The Vyne, near Basingstoke
The formal planting in The Vyne’s summerhouse garden reveals a pretty mix of pastel-pink and lilac Virginia stocks, and striking orange crown imperials.

A little further on, the large north lawn provides the perfect place to flop into a deckchair and take in historic views across the lake to the ancient parkland and woods beyond, where carpets of bluebells are on show in early May. There are easy tracks to follow through the woods, so everyone can have a little bit of bluebell magic.

Uppark, near Petersfield
In late spring, Uppark’s small wildflower meadow begins its changing displays, as the long grasses are gradually dotted with yellow rattle, crown imperials and fragile orchids. On a warm spring day this is a lovely space to wander into and sit for a while, surrounded by the gentle yum of wildlife.

Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere
Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Hampshire countryside lies Sandham Memorial chapel. In keeping with the tranquil, spiritual nature of the chapel, its pretty cottage-style garden was designed as a place of reflection and peace. There are plenty of places to sit and take in the beautiful floral sights around you.

From spring onwards, primulas and tulips provide splashes of bright colour, contrasting with soft ornamental grasses, aquilegia, honeysuckle and lavender to create a tranquil haven for contemplation and relaxation.  In the orchard, the long grass is scattered with wild flowers.

For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out/regionlondonsoutheast/hampshire

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