Biddulph Grange Garden, Stoke-on-Trent, ST8 7SD. Telephone 01782 517999. Owned by The National Trust. Open End of March - October, Wednesday to Friday, 12 noon - 5.30pm. Saturday and Sundays and Bank Holidays 11am - 5.30pm. Also Saturday and Sunday in November and December 12 noon to 4.00pm.
I made my first visit to this unusual and exciting mid 19th century garden in late May 2002. It was designed by John Bateman to display his collection of plants gathered from all around the world. The charm of the garden for me was choosing which path to take and the unexpected surprises round each corner. Some paths lead you through stone tunnels before emerging into another delight. The China garden is a sheer pleasure with its willow-pattern bridge, tea house and an ornate pagoda decorated with painted birds and bells. A visit later in the year will be needed to enjoy the stepped dahlia garden. The garden is tended by some five full time gardeners and extends to about 15 acres. Not an easy garden for the disabled to get around and certainly not a garden for wheelchairs.