Review of Alnwick Garden (Part of Alnwick Castle, which was Hogworts School in Harry Potter)

from http://www.gardennetlinks.co.uk The UK directory of garden related websites
Alnwick Garden is situated on the estate of the Duke of Northumberland and was set up by his wife, Jane, The Duchess of Northumberland. The garden (on a 12 acre site) was opened by Prince Charles in 2002 and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in North East England. The garden appeals to a wide audience, from the proffessional gardener, down to people who just garden as a relaxing past time. The garden has excellent access for the disabled, which I think is great. It has the advantage of being built recently, so such considerations could be taken into account into the plans.
Its 8 for adults to visit and on a pleasant day you could easily spend a long morning or afternoon there, but a full day I think might be a bit long, unless you just want to relax on on one of the many seats in quiet enclaves surrounded by plants or have kids who can play in a safe environment. The gardens main feature is a vast stunning water feature that is built onto a hill, which every half an hour begins a display that sends the water from the top to the base using fountains and jets. At the top of the hill is a stunning heavily planted walled garden, with a large dovecote attached to one of the walls and a huge range of plants in separated areas, with walkways and water between them.
Within the main garden is a number of smaller zones, such as the rose garden, bamboo maze and a selection of ingenious water features, creating curtains of water and bubble pools. To the left of the large water display is the poison garden. This garden has been sectioned off with a large wrought iron garden gate with ornate poison ivy and spiders which could have came from the set of Harry Potter. (Alnwick Castle, just a short walk away was used as the school in the film.) You can only enter this part of the garden with a guide, and on realising this I was going to give the wait a miss. However, I decided to wait for the next tour to start and was glad I did. The guide was informative and humourous and gave a tour of all the deadly and poisonous plants, with an explanation of the damage they can do. As well as Marjuana (the first of which had been stolen by a local enthusiast!) and opium plants, the garden contained plants that can be found in many suburban gardens. Two examples are foxgloves and Laburnum trees, both of which if ingested can cause serious illness and even death.
There was a plant in the garden called Vinca, which is a strain of the Periwinkle family, the guide explained that is used is used for treating Luekemia. What was amazing was that the guide told us that when researching the plant, they discovered that as long ago as the 16th century it was recognised as helping to reduce tumours. The Elizabethans were clever!
There is new dining facilities within a glass visitor centre where you can stop for a meal, snack or ice cream and sit and admire the view from tables on a large patio overloking the garden. There is a well stocked shopping area with some nice crafty stuff, home made fudges etc. Within the grounds, near the car park there is one of Europes largest tree house villages, with a shop, restaurant and rope bridges connecting the houses. It's great and I reckon if your have young children they will absolutely love it!
If you have never visited Northumberland before, then Alnwick Garden is a good reason to make the trip. Northumberland is a great county with stunning coastlines and castles, Stately homes, Hadrians wall, the rolling Cheviot Hills and pleasant market towns (Such as historic Alnwick!), picturesque villages, Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water (the largest man made lake in Europe) and the dynamic city of Newcastle Upon Tyne in easy reach. It's a great place for a short break.
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