A 'Hole' lot of bluebells!

A ‘Hole’ lot of bluebells!

Hole Park in Rolveden, Kent will host one of the most wonderful displays of spring when bluebells grace the gardens in a few weeks’ time.

The beautiful Hole Park Gardens in Rolvenden, Kent will open to visitors every day from Sunday, April 1 with a Bluebell Festival taking place between April 20 and May 3. Hole Park’s website will have a bluebell barometer which will be updated regularly throughout April.

The woodlands of Hole Park are described as one of the best places in Britain to see bluebells. The bluebells are enjoyed via a circular walk which takes visitors through the woodlands and over streams to a renovated solar-powered ice house. The final part of the walk winds its way through the silvery white haze of the Wild Garlic Walk.

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Owner of Hole Park Edward Barham said: “New this year is the renovated long border. Work began last year to reinstate the pink and blue theme used by the late Christopher Lloyd when he first designed the border at Hole Park. Over winter and early spring the remaining work will be completed on the second part of the long border which will be replanted in the original white and yellow planting scheme. The sunken garden will also have yellow tulips and ivory wallflowers in spring. In the two small woods either side of the fountain lawn several thousand scilla bifolia have been planted which are predominantly blue with a few white flowered scillas for contrast.”

The 16-acre gardens and 10-acre woodlands have been planted for colour throughout the seasons and are open to visitors daily in spring and summer between April 1 and June 9 and on Wednesdays and Thursdays between June 13 and October 31. Throughout October the gardens will also be open on Sundays for autumn colour.

Bluebells: a shimmering carpet of vibrant colour. Images: Stuart Kirk

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Visitors in early April will be treated to swathes of crocus, narcissus and daffodils throughout the gardens. There is also a pretty camellia walk with added interest from shade-loving hellebores and early flowering cherry and magnolia trees. The meadows and woodland floor are a sea of primroses and dainty blue scillas before the bluebells take centre stage.

In May the gardens are full of tulips, roses and clematis and the vineyard garden has impressive standard wisterias to admire. Rhododendrons and azaleas flower throughout the gardens and the wild orchids will start to flower in the meadows alongside the delightful spires and star-shaped flowers of ‘camassia’. The sundial garden provides a view over the Wealden countryside through an oval window shaped in the topiary hedge.

The late flowering agapanthus ‘Hole Park Blue’ and colourful exotic border with its cannas and dahlias are an impressive sight in late summer before the reds, yellows and golds of autumn bring interest during October.

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One of the Seven Wonders of the Weald, the garden was also crowned Kentish Garden of the Year in 2016 by Visit Kent and Kent Life Magazine.

A circular network of hard paths enables visitors of all ages, including those who require a wheelchair, to enjoy the gardens. Wheelchairs may be reserved free of charge and there are full disability WC facilities.

Light lunches and delicious home-made cakes are available in the coach house where apple juice, local beer and home-made jam and honey produced from the fruit and bees on the Hole Park Estate can be purchased. There is also a small plant stall next to the coach house.

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There is a dedicated tea room for groups, free parking for cars and coaches and conducted tours can also be arranged for groups by prior arrangement.

Admission: £7.50 for adults and £1 for children (aged five to 18). The gardens are open 11am to 6pm. Groups of 15 plus, £7 each and guided tours for groups £3.50 per person.

Hole Park is situated four miles west of Tenterden on the B2086 between Rolvenden and Benenden and is a family-owned estate which has been in the Barham family for the past four generations. Formalised gardens combine with natural woodland. These extensive gardens were developed, laid out and planted by Colonel Barham, the great-grandfather of the present owner, in the years between the two World Wars.

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Steve Ott

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