Highclere Castle, set for TV series Downton Abbey, has stunning gardens.

As the fifth series of Downton Abbey gets closer to our TVs, F&F readers can have an exclusive peek around the gardens where Lady Mary, her suitors and her family stroll around. The beautiful Highclere Castle in Berkshire has grounds that are worthy of their own television programme.

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

Since taking over the 1,000 acre estate 13 years ago, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife Lady Carnarvon have been making these gardens – which have existed in one form or another since the 13th Century – even more incredible. They’ve planted 15,000 bulbs, cultivated an arboretum and redesigned the flower borders.

The parkland was originally designed by Capability Brown, and the gardens are split into two: the Monk’s Garden and the Secret Garden. The Secret Garden includes beautiful pink climbing roses including ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Alberic Barbier’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, and a rose arbour.

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

They flourish in the garden’s relatively poor and dry soil, along with penstemons, blue and white agapanthus, which go down very well with the bulk of visitors who turn up in July and August.

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

The Secret Garden also includes colour-themed borders, including this stunning white border with huge mophead hydrangeas, and a blue and yellow bed.

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

The Monk’s Garden reflects the original plantings in the garden, with a glasshouse packed with peaches, nectarines and quinces.

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

© Highclere Castle 2014

The couple have also created a Wood of Goodwill, clearing conifers and replanting with an avenue of British native trees as would have been the style in the 18th century. And they’ve underplanted those trees with plants given to them as gifts, hence the ‘goodwill’.

The gardens are out of bounds to the Downton cast while they’re filming, though, but you can visit the Castle and the gardens yourself: more details on their site.

Click for more stunning real gardens on Fennel & Fern.

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