Mark Lane is a garden designer, TV presenter and Ambassador for gardening charities Greenfingers and Thrive and, for him, a visit to the Savill Garden in Berkshire was a revelation.
I discovered it quite recently, but I absolutely fell in love with the place. The structure of the Savill building is incredible, it looks like a crumpled fallen leaf, with a living roof and a spectacular vaulted ceiling above you as you go into the garden.
Considering how young it is, dating only from the 1930s, it is extremely mature. It looks like it has been there forever. I discovered it in winter, and the amount of colour and scent was phenomenal. The Cornus and Salix have brilliant, coloured stems which shine against the dark-green lawns and the gunnera in their winter shrouds looked magical.
It is very well kept, I couldn’t for the life of me find a weed! The garden is almost triangular, with the Cumberland Obelisk and Autumn wood in one corner, the Summer wood in another and, finally the very beautiful Queen Elizabeth Temperate House.
For me, the Temperate House is such a calming, relaxing place. There is the sound of water from the little fountain and fig trees trained up the walls, and the spiral staircase is beautiful, although it is not very good for wheelchairs.
As a plant-lover, I think it is somewhere that everyone should go. The vast collection of magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas comes alight in a tapestry of colour, and there is a surprise around every corner. When I got to the viewing platform, the bold swathes and contrasting planting opened up in front of me, it was really exciting.
The plants are so well chosen and they are carefully placed so they relate to each other well. The way they catch the light is incredible and it has taught me how beautiful gardens can look even in autumn and winter.
I have not felt like this for a long time. I visit lots of gardens, and they are what they are, but the Savill Garden really hit me. It is a place that has grown through the years and mellowed into the landscape. It is a real credit to all the gardeners involved.
Words: Naomi Slade
The Savill Garden, Wick Lane, Englefield Green, Egham TW20 0UU;