A dash around the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

I recently wrote about my visit to the Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres Press Day to find out their forthcoming exhibit and installation at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show later this month.  After we had finished the main part of the day we were offered a quick tour of the nearby Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.  I had not visited these gardens previously so I was keen to go along.  It was also made special as we were being taken around by Robert Hillier OBE VHM, the son of Sir Harold and who had spent some of his childhood growing up at the house and gardens.  This was before they were donated to be run by Hampshire County Council making them open to the public and available as an educational resource.
The gardens originally were bought to house Sir Harold's collections of trees and shrubs.  It was not particularly 'designed' and Robert told us that it was the perfect playground for him and his friends when home from school.  As we walked around I was imagining how wonderful it must have been as a child to have been running around the trees, making dens and so on. 
The gardens have been extended by the Council and now reach over 72 hectares.  There in excess of 42000 trees there.
The weather had been very showery earlier in the day, but now the sun was being kind to us and the gardens shone in appreciation.

It was difficult to take it all in as there was so much to see.  As you might expect there were the most phenomenal trees at every turn.
This leaf-shaped covered bench by the pond made me stop and pause, I thought it incredibly beautiful.
Jermyns House was the Hillier family home and it sits perfectly in the gardens.
This bed of tulips in front of the house was enjoying the sun.
Leading up from the house there is this magnolia walk, a happy use apparently of an over-order of magnolias by a customer that needed to go somewhere.
Did I mention the trees?
This is where the gardens were formally handed over to the Council in 1977 by the Queen Mother, they planted the two oaks to commemorate the event.
We paused for Robert us to show us the memorial to his father that is in the gardens.  One of the most charming things about the visit was how Robert referred to his 'dad', what he had planted where, how things had come to be.  It placed the gardens as still in the heart of the family business.

It was a good way to finish a very special day. I want to thank the Hillier family and team for being so generous with their time on the day.