I decided to go to Hever Castle on a whim. Driving back from my accountants in Reigate I saw the the sign for Hever Castle, and remembered I wanted to pop into have a look at the new Faith Garden I’d read about, so I did a wee de-tour. I was feeling like a winner after doing my accounts and it was a sunny day, so why not…

Hever Castle gardens
I wasn’t sure there was much to see in the gardens. I’d only ever gone with my family when the focus was on the picturesque castle, moat and maze. In fact, my only botanical memory was the water lilies, as my 3-year-old niece pointed them out at every opportunity shouting ‘waterlily’ – weird kid! I went through the map (free with entrance) and was pleased to see there were lots of garden areas I’d previously missed thanks to the lure of the fairy tale castle. Hever Castle was really just a manor house for 500 years and in its’ self hasn’t changed that much. However, the grounds were completely transformed at the beginning of the 19th century by the previous American owner William Waldorf Astor. He is said to have spent £10m (over a Billion in today’s money!!) creating the moat, lake, gardens and maze. Now that’s a budget!
Hand dug lake
He was the US ambassador to Italy hence the Roman statuary dotted around the grounds, some of which is very beautiful and works in the space perfectly (some less so). The lake is without a doubt his triumph, all hand dug by a 1000 men!
Pergola walkway
I decided to go down the pergola walk first, passing the shady fernery on one side and the Italian gardens with their numerous roman artefacts and roses on the other. All very pretty but not really my thing, a bit too trad for me.
Hever Castle gardens
White roses

Next on to the Faith Garden, which is the star of the show in my opinion. A prairie style garden masterminded by Head Gardner Neil Miller and his team, inspired by Tom Massey’s ‘Garden for Perennials’ at RHS Hampton Court in 2017. There are huge drifts of perennials and grasses punctuated by specimen trees some of which were planted at an earlier time. I particularly enjoyed the path snaking through the planting. It’s a small scale version of the Sussex Prairie Gardens which I visited a while back.

Helenium, Faith Garden
Persicaria, Faith Garden
Echniops, Faith Garden
The plant scheme is designed to be at its best July- until end of Sept so you still have time to enjoy it if you get your skates on. Then, on yet another whim (I now realise how feckless I must seem), I decided to walk all the way around the lake, something I have never done before. I am SO glad I did, it only took me about 30mins to circumnavigate, however it includes a Chinese pavilion and wild-flower meadows. Plus I spied a few lovely picnic spots for next summer too!
Wild flower meadow
On grabbing an ice lolly for my lunch, I pressed on to the blue garden and long border which was more traditional in design but none the less lovely.
Blue Garden
Blue planting at Blue Garden

Hever Gardens are definitely worth a visit however I’d recommend that you take a picnic and plan to stay for as much of the day as you can to ensure value for money.