The Royal Horticultural Society has announced that Hidden Valley Gardens, an intimate three-acre cottage style garden in Treesmill, Cornwall, has been voted overall winner in the RHS Partner Garden of the Year Competition 2023.
Owners Tricia and Peter Howard have spent 24 years transforming an overgrown ‘pick your own’ into an idyllic and peaceful garden, encapsulating the ‘Feel Good’ theme of the competition. Visitors describe it as “a warm and welcoming garden” and as having “an imaginative design, incorporating flowers and vegetables, with insect and bird life taken into consideration.”
The winners said: “We were quite emotional when we had the telephone call to say we won the overall 2023 Partner Garden of the Year. It is a great privilege and honour and lovely to think our visitors have loved the garden as much as we do.”
Hidden Valley Gardens was selected from six regional finalists after visitors chose their favourite gardens in each of six regions. The regional winners were:
- Scotland: Attadale Gardens
- North of England and Northern Ireland: Holehird Gardens
- Midlands and East Anglia: Wyken Hall
- South East and Channel Islands: Denmans Garden
- South West and Wales: Hidden Valley Gardens*
- Overseas: Brahman Hills Garden
Attadale Gardens in Scotland’s Highlands offers meandering paths through water gardens and woodland, with sculptures, a herb garden, sunken garden and Japanese garden, all against the wild backdrop of the mountains and the sea loch.
Overlooking Lake Windermere, Holehird Gardens comprises a walled garden with herbaceous borders and island beds, spring bulbs, autumn colours, collections of rhododendrons, hydrangeas, alpines and six National Plant Collections.
Nine miles north east of Bury St Edmunds, Wyken Hall is home to a series of old-style gardens to complement the Elizabethan house. These include a knot garden, herb garden, traditional English kitchen garden, wildflower meadows, nuttery and a copper beech maze.
Denmans Garden is a tranquil contemporary garden on the southern slope of the South Downs. Converted by plantswoman Joyce Robinson from a post-war market garden to an ornamental garden it features extensive gravel gardens dating to 1970. From 1980 this Grade II garden was taken over and stylized by world-renowned landscape designer John Brookes MBE who lived at Denmans until 2018. Denmans is horticulturally diverse, and comprises a diverse series of spaces connected by curving paths of gravel and mown lawn through rough grass.
A new Partner Garden for 2023, South Africa’s Brahman Hills Gardens boasts a formal layout with repeating geometric motifs in circles and rectangles of hard landscaping softened and beautifully contrasted by abundant flowers and plants. Interspersed are oases of water – fountains, ponds, formal pools and the lake beside the Lake House.
Helen Feary, RHS Partner Gardens Manager, said: “In this third year of the RHS Partner Garden of the Year competition, visitors have once again touched us by voting in their thousands for their favourite gardens. Their heartfelt comments, describing gardens as ‘magical’ or even ‘balm to the soul’ show just how much good a visit to a garden can do for us.”
Details of the 2024 RHS Partner Garden of the Year competition, and how to vote, will be revealed next spring. There are currently 221 gardens in the RHS Partner Gardens scheme, which allows RHS Members to visit non-RHS gardens free at selected times of the year. They comprise some of the most famous gardens in the world as well as privately-owned hidden gems, and beyond the UK can be found in 9 countries across the globe, including Barbados, France, Japan, Singapore, and South Africa.
To find out more about RHS Partner Gardens, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/partnergardens