Kent’s Hever Castle and Gardens is a fantastic place to spend a family day out, but once a year the attraction becomes an even greater draw. The annual Tulip Festival, which is about to be welcomed for the second time, will see no fewer than 20,000 flowers in full bloom.
There could be no better excuse to gather a group of friends and family together for a trip to the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The historic property will be celebrating its festival from April 18th to 27th, giving you plenty of time to organise a visit.
Decide whether to undertake the tulip trail as a self-guided excursion or accompanied by Hever’s head gardener Neil Miller. Either way, you will see so many colours and varieties of tulips that it will be difficult not to be overcome by the beauty.
These bright hues are set off against the majesty of the castle grounds – from the Pompeiian Wall to the Tudor Garden and Italian Garden. Each area is distinctive in its style and the planting has been designed to reflect their individual charms.
In the Italian Garden you will see the biggest expanse of tulips, stretching as far as the eye can see down to the Loggia and the lake. And the tulips are not confined to the outdoor spaces, with Hever’s in-house florist Pamela Brise having created beautiful displays inside the castle.
You can learn more about the history of the tulip and how it became a favourite with the Elizabethans by seeking out the display in the castle. A horticultural boom came about as plants started to be sourced from all over the world and the gardens of the nobility reflected this trend.
Look out for the portrait of Margeurite de Valois hanging in the Inner Hall. Ever up-to-date with fashion, the bodice of her dress has been decorated with a tulip motif, so it’s safe to say that the former resident would have been pleased with the festival taking place in the castle’s grounds.
Mr Miller said: “This year we want to share more about the history of the flower and tie it in with the famous residents who lived at Hever Castle itself. We know that the tulip was officially introduced into the Tudor gardens of England in 1578. John Gerard’s Herballor General Historie of Plantes, a book detailing plants of Tudor times, actually lists the plants in his own garden as including 30 different species of tulip.”
Make the trip to Hever Castle as stress-free as possible by hiring a coach. You won’t need to worry about driving or directions and can arrive feeling as fresh as a daisy… or tulip!
Photo credit: iStock/DavidCallan