Houghton Lodge

Houghton Lodge in Hampshire has revealed a new tour of its gardens for groups, which can include a two course lunch or a seasonal talk.

Houghton Lodge is said to be one of the finest and earliest surviving examples of a cottage ornée, a genre of Gothic architecture.

The house itself is only open for group visits, and a number of benefits for group visitors include all-inclusive tours and introductory talks, as well as refreshments.

Garden tours

On arrival, the group will be welcomed by a member of the family who live at Houghton Lodge. The party will be shown to the tea-room where they can enjoy a choice of tea or coffee before starting a tour of the extensive gardens with a member of the gardening team.

The gardens at Houghton Lodge are an example of an 18th century informal outdoor space. The walled garden boasts vast espalier fruit trees enclosed by a historic chalk cob wall, and provides protection to 32 different varieties of apple tree.

There is also an herb garden with pharmaceutical, medicinal, natural dye, pot pourri and tea beds. On the tour, groups can meet Houghton’s resident alpacas, Tom, Dick and Harry, and observe a 300-foot herbaceous border, before heading back to the house past the river which winds through the 14-acre estate.

The tour will be followed by a two-course lunch served in the Orangery.

Seasonal talks

Group travel organisers can opt to add a specialist seasonal talk on to their garden tour at Houghton Lodge.

The gardening team are available on request, for a minimum of ten people, to speak on topics including planning a border; sweet pea cultivation; container planting; growing orchids and fruit tree pruning, plus others.

To book a garden tour, or for more information, GTOs should visit www.houghtonlodge.co.uk.

(Photo credit: Ed Crispin).