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Gardening’s great but getting out and about brings a new perspective to what you are doing on your own bit of land.

Sometimes, it’s really easy to get fixated on your side of the fence/hedge, when it would benefit you greatly to get out and inspired by fresh ideas.

Cornus Midwinter Fire
Cornus Midwinter Fire, silver birch and me at RHS Harlow Carr’s Winter Walk

I don’t mean stately home or Royal Horticultural Society gardens (although I do love Harlow Carr, in Harrogate) here – although they have their place, they tend to preach to the converted.

The places I have included here are because they mean something to me and while not all are straight forward ‘gardening days out’, you’ll certainly find inspiration there.

For instance, Beamish Museum. What’s that got to do with gardening?

How leeks should look – Beamish leek show. Picture supplied by Beamish Museum

Well, as a huge site preserving past ways of life in North East England, you’ll see how important gardening was – see the miner’s cottage gardens in the Pit Village and the different styles of the houses in the Town.

There’s also the leek show every September and its fun horticultural show that encourage everyone to enter, not just show bench exhibitors.

Crook Hall
Crook Hall

Crook Hall is a wonderful garden hidden in the middle of Durham City, while further out in County Durham, there’s multiple RHS Chelsea gold medallists Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries, with amazing nursery full of hidden gems, palm trees and parakeets.

Providing the ‘urban lungs’ for Tyne and Wear and County Durham is the Great North Forest, with many a hidden gem to inspire you – and just past the MetroCentre is Gibside, 18th Century pleasure grounds with many reminders of its glorious gardening past and great woodland walks.

The Alnwick Garden is one not to miss – there’s always something to see – I went on Halloween and there were still kids running in the water spouts.

That's one hell of an Echium - Mt Teide, Tenerife
That’s one hell of an Echium – Mt Teide, Tenerife

I also have a great love of the Canary Islands and their plants, two highlights being Cesar Manrique’s house on Lanzarote and seeing Echium wildpretii growing wild on Tenerife’s Mount Teide.

It’s from these trips to the Canaries that my love for Echiums has reached silly proportions – if I’d never been there, I would never have known how happy they make me.

Take inspiration wherever you find it…