Spent a great afternoon at the beautiful Hever Castle Gardens, built between 1904-1908 – we took advantage of the RHS membership partner garden scheme where you can get in for free in December. The Italian garden is wonderful, designed to host the Astor’s collection of Italian Sculpture. Beautiful planting, formal hedges and stunning old walls inspired a hide and seek adventure, where we found ourselves in the sunken garden, kids delighting in running around and around the square water feature –nothing formal about their idea of fun! We were particularly taken with the faces of the weathered and wise sculptures – witness to all of Hever’s visitors – this one looking slightly disapprovingly at our fun and games. Lots of bare branches waiting for their time to come – we can’t wait to return to see how the magic of the different seasons effect this spectacular design – gardens are such a living artwork – what a privilege to be able to come and see literally the ‘work in progress’ as it grows. Over 1000 men worked on the great design of the Italian garden and it took 800 men 2 years to dig the 38 acre lake at its far end – slightly larger than our garden build teams! Extraordinary architecture frames the romantic lakeside views. The Rose garden currently pruned back is said to contain over 4000 plants, surely a breathtaking sight and smell when in bloom. Hever also had great festive fun with a Christmas grotto, small old fashioned carousel, great storytelling tent, little pony rides and outside fire pits to keep you warm and cosy. Fairy lights and mood lighting delivered for when the early darkness crept up too soon on us and kept the garden exciting for our magic obsessed little’uns. The changing tree globe lighting particularly grabbed their attention as did the Rudolf topiary and Father Christmas letter tent. Highly recommend this one for a visit over the festive season.