This year Houghton Lodge Gardens, Test Valley, Hampshire, is celebrating its 230th anniversary and planning a programme of special events to delight and entertain its visitors. Houghton Lodge is a Grade II* listed “Cottage Orné” surrounded by mature trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the famous River Test, arguably one of the most beautiful privately owned gardens to visit in Hampshire.
The Gardens officially open on 1 April, but there will be special openings in March (25 and 26 March is next weekend open) when visitors can come and view swathes of daffodils and beautiful, rare scilla adorning the gardens, proving that Spring has well and truly sprung!
In April the new Oriental Garden will be open, and visitors will be able to appreciate its cherry orchard, acer walk, rose garden, stream, and beautiful Torii, Moon Gate and Nikko bridge, as well as new water-loving marginal plants growing on the banks of the pond and island.
Tours of the 18th century historic house will take place throughout the year and a new guidebook for the house and gardens will be launched as part of the anniversary and a programme of tours will be available throughout the year. The house itself is a wonderful example of the kind of Gothic architecture that flourished for about 25 years from 1790. Today the house is Grade II* listed and has become one of the ‘must see’ historic houses to visit in Hampshire. Tours are made interesting and amusing, bringing out the personality of this glorious family home. Visitors will be able to appreciate the beauty of the exquisite rooms, including the dining room, music room, and drawing room, full of treasures collected by the family. Visitors will hear the stories and history that have been part of the house since it was built in 1793. Daniel and Sophie Busk’s grandchildren will be the 6th generation to live in the house. It is very much a family home and tours of the house give that informal feel.
For those interested in finding out more about the house and gardens the new souvenir guidebook is a ‘must read’, written by Daniel and Sophie in 2022. It contains information about the Busk family that have owned the house since 1910, a history of the house and gardens, events such as a fire, a ‘stroll around the gardens’, sustainable practices, the River Test and more.
Another event to mark the anniversary will be a special version of Houghton Lodge’s ‘Music on the Test’, to take place on the stunning banks of the River Test. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy music and singing – the perfect way to spend an afternoon!
And Houghton Lodge will stage outdoor cinema in September with 3 new films to look forward to. An Apple Day will also take place in the Autumn, celebrating Houghton’s wonderful heritage apples and pears which are grown within the ancient walls of the walled garden. These apples and pears are varieties not available in shops and supermarkets. During the day there will be opportunities to ‘ask the experts’ on fruit tree growing and pruning, a chance to view and taste many varieties and children’s activities.
For visitors wanting to take a short break accommodation at Houghton Lodge – the Apple Rooms – provide luxury self-catering accommodation in a bespoke collection of 6 individually designed boutique en-suite studio rooms. Guests can enjoy complimentary entry to the gardens during their stay.
For more information about any of the above events and to book tickets visit www.houghtonlodge.co.uk