South of the Royal residence of Windsor Castle is the vast Windsor Great Park. Under the guide of Harvey (deputy keeper of the garden) and his team, I explored some of the 4,800 acres of English parkland including the beautiful Savill Garden.
The Savill Garden is 34 acres of undulating landscape that’s been lovingly enhanced with a diverse mix of plant life for the past 80 years. The park’s ranger is the Duke of Edinburgh and the Royal’s have expressed much interest and passion for this spectacular space, overseeing recent changes like the tranquil Jubilee and Rose Garden that Her Majesty the Queen opened in 2010.
I was curious to see how the garden is able to sustain itself through the changing seasons, and Harvey shared the teams clever use of space ensures there’s a feast for the eyes what ever time of year you visit.
For example, in cold December entry has been free and the dogwood and snowy birch contrast brilliantly alongside the thriving winter beds. In springtime the valley is cloaked in vibrant colours of magnolias and rhododendrons, followed by the emergence of dazzling dahlias, hydrangeas and sweet smelling roses in the summer.
After a rainy night, the humid air was laced with nature’s perfume which ever direction you went. The tropical-like Temperate House reminded me of parks in Tenerife and Madeira, and the rose garden’s soaring walkway (the title image) arches over like a ship’s bow.
The castle’s parkland is a perfect setting for a British picnic, but The Savill Kitchen menu is worth consideration; wood-fired pizza, salads and sandwiches sit alongside one of my favourite English traditions; Afternoon Tea.
If you’ve visited Windsor Castle you may have caught a glimpse of the famous Long Walk that stretches over three miles to the deer park where the animals roam freely amongst the oak trees. Some of the trees here date back 1300 years (if only they could talk!) and witnessed the castle’s creation during William the Conquer’s reign around 1066.
The land here was frequently used for hunting and there’s a famous ghost story about Herne the Hunter who apparently still haunts the parks today. The huge Virginia Water lake (man made in the 1700s by the Duke of Cumberland) was popular with Queen Victoria who enjoyed picnics on the waterside. These days the area is frequented by dog walkers and runners as it’s free to access year round.
See my post on Princess Beatrice garden in Carisbrooke Castle, daughter of Queen Victoria.
Windsor Great Park and The Savill Garden are two ingredients for a wonderfully British day out, particularly if you’ve already explored the castle or love history and horticulture. Even though I visited on a grey and damp day, the late summer gardens were very much alive with colour.
If you have visited Windsor Great Park during the other seasons, please let me know what you made of it.
The Savill Garden | 10-6pm/4.30pm (summer/winter)£10.50 park entry also includes free parking
Disclosure: My experience at Windsor Great Park was complimentary for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.