Saturday 12 June 2021

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey, Hampshire - Fun for all the Family!

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, Hampshire is great for all the family to explore and has some fun children's activities too

{Dislcosure: We received free entry and a drink in exchange for an honest review}

A couple of weeks ago we stayed in the Test Valley, Hampshire for a few nights and we had the most wonderful stay. The glorious weather, of course, helped but more than anything, it is just a fabulous area to explore. It is easy to access, close to both towns and countryside and there is an abundance of things to do on your doorstep.

One morning we visited the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, which were just a 10-minute drive from where we were staying at Michelmersh Manor Farm near Romsey. You might not think that some gardens are the perfect place to take teens but we had some really lovely family time there. As we wondered and enjoyed all the different vistas, plants and the sunshine too we just chatted and mused about our lives.

Any parent of teens will know how important it is to be able to easily chat and sit alongside their teenager. So much of the time they are super busy and out with their friends or chatting to them online, so this kind of relaxed downtime together is perfect.

What will you find?

We found the gardens to be really beautiful and quite diverse. There are 180 acres to explore and something different in every season. When we visited at the very end of May it felt as if we were just prior to the full colours blooming. We walked down the Peony and Wisteria border and there was just a little colour, with the odd peony out in bloom but massive buds everywhere, waiting to give an explosion of colour. 

When we arrived it was very good that the assistant asked if we wanted some recommendations of where there was good colour at the moment or if we just wanted to wander. We were at the gardens for about 2.5 hours and we only explored a fraction of the site, so if you are a garden enthusiast, someone who wants a really good long walk or a family with kids to wear out then you could spend a happy half-day if not the whole day at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. 

You get given a clear A4 map as you arrive and this helps you to navigate the site, although all the paths are really good and there is great signage too, so you could just happily wander and see where your feet take you. The variety is excellent, there is a hydrangea walk, summer meadow, water meadow, Himalayan valley, bog garden, Gurkha memorial, rhododendron woods, Spring walk, Centenary border, pond, pinetum and Winter garden to name just a few of the areas. 

The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens have won many prestigious awards and specialise in horticulture, conservation, education and recreation. If there are particular plants or trees that you wish to see it is worth looking at the website before you go as you can search for specific plants and tress, narrowing your results by which month you are visiting or whether you want to see formal or informal planting for instance. 

There seem to be quite a few events in the gardens too, like Last Night of the Proms, Summer Soul Spectacular and an end of Summer fireworks show. Also some smaller ones like a nature exhibition, yoga and pond dipping for the kids. 

Fun for the Children

There is so much fun to be had for pre-schoolers and primary aged kids as they explore the garden. It was good that not all the fun activities for the children are in one place, they are spread all over, so even if little legs start to get bored of running around they might find some natural musical instruments to play, or a treetop house to explore or maybe a wooden assault course at the hilltop adventures. 

There is also a children's education garden for use by schools and education programs at the gardens. My teenagers certainly enjoyed playing the giant bamboo musical chimes, walking the planks and were itching to have a go on the giant snake swing, which is big enough for all the family to enjoy together, no matter what your age or size. 

Facilities at the Gardens

There is a large pavilion at the entrance which houses the booking office, toilets, gift shop and some exhibition space. There is also a lovely and airy restaurant with undercover (shady) seating and also lots of outside sunny seating. 

We had a sandwich and a cuppa during our visit and found it to be a good place to stop for a rest. The staff were friendly and there was a good lunch menu available, with reasonable prices, such as jacket potatoes from around £6.00, £7.25 for a ploughman's, £7.95 for a vegan curry with rice and a bhaji or £8.95 for sausages, mash, peas and gravy. 

There was also a water station to help yourself and the toilets were clean and well maintained. 

We had a really nice visit to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and we'll happily visit again in the future when we are back in Hampshire. 

Useful Information

Address: Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Jermyns Lane, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0QA

Telephone Number: 01794 368787

Email Enquiries:

Ticket prices: Adult £12.10, Children (5 to 16) £3.30, Children under 5 free and a Family ticket is £28.10. Both members and non-members need to book in advance currently, due to Covid restrictions

Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm with last entry at 5pm (and the gardens close at 5pm in the Winter season)

Accessibility: All-ability path network and accessible toilets are available. There is a mobility scooter hire service, it is £3.95 for 3 hours and you need to book in advance by phoning 01794 368787

Dogs: Only registered assistance dogs are permitted 

Social Media: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, Hampshire is great for all the family to explore and has some fun children's activities too

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