New Forest Furzey Gardens Minstead (SO43 7GL for your Satnav) is a truly enchanting place to visit when you are exploring the New Forest.
It is in the heart of this stunning National Park and offers peace and tranquility with plenty to see, explore and enjoy. Young children in particular will enjoy it as they will discover they can leave a note to elves and fairies at the tiny doors which are hidden throughout the gardens - real fun!
We recently visited and were lucky enough to see splendid displays of azaleas and rhododendrons in full colour, as well as beautiful plants from around the world.
It is described as a haven of peace and tranquility in the heart of the New Forest and this is certainly true. It has so much to offer for the whole family.
We passed the beautiful 16th Century Cobb Cottage at the entrance and made our way across to the Giants Table and Picnic Area. As you can see the colours all around were stunning.
We then headed off to a little path which led to a thatched seating area which gave long reaching views across the Typhoon Paddock to the New Forest horizons in the far distance.
What makes this garden particularly enchanting is that it is so well thought out - for all ages. This platform, called the Typhoon Tower, had a little tower with a step ladder so anyone could climb up and look out. From the youngest visitor to the oldest we were all tempted!
We then decided to explore the thatching and bee displays. As I live in a thatched cob cottage I'm always fascinated to see any thatching displays. There was an added bonus here because there is a lovely little childrens straw house - we just had to go in!
The thatching displays showed what variations you could have to the ridge of a cottage. If you travel around England you will see there is a lot of variation in the style of ridging as you go from one county to another.
This area also holds the Bee Project. There are five hives in the gardens helping to conserve the honey bee and an interactive hive display, you can buy pots of honey and other gifts to take home with you in the shop and Gallery area of the gardens.
Next, we ambled off to a really fantastic but totally organic play area for children. So much thought had gone into letting children explore and have wonderful adventures in this area. The Tree House was stunning. We climbed up the stairs and had a good look around, both inside and out. Again a little ladder allowed you to go into a small room inside the house.
We wandered from the play area along secluded paths with beautiful plants and flowers until we came to the Typhoon Paddock and the Wild Flower Conservation Area.
Then we headed towards the Wetland Conservation Area. The whole time we were passing magnificent azaleas and rhododendrons in their full, glorious colour.
This is when we discovered just how enchanting Furzey Gardens is and that they hold a secret. There are fairy doors for little visitors to find - in fact there are a whole series of little doors dotted around the gardens! Little messages were being written by tiny hands everywhere we went.
The enchantment just continues - you can get a map from the entrance area and then discover each little secret for yourself. (Again, however old you are!) The tiny doors are magical. The one in the Elf Bower View Point had two beautifully written notes to the elves and fairies from a very young, but very literate little girl.
If you've visited the Chelsea Flower Show in past years you may have seen Tiny Doors at Chelsea Flower Show Its all there for you to discover. There are wonderful little tales, photos and lots more from the Furzey Garden Fairies and their secret tiny doors.
As well as the Elf Bower View Point across the Typhoon Paddock the Wetland Conservation Area has a large lake stocked with fish and water lillies. A little bridge allows you to walk around the edge.
Next we headed back to the Cob Cottage. It was a very hot day, and, like my cottage, once inside it was a cool haven. We climbed upstairs and looked into the little bedroom at the end. We burst out laughing because an entire family of mum, dad and children were all laying on their makeshift bed - as it would have been many years ago. They were on a bed of straw as a mattress, a cover over the straw to stop it scratching too much, then a little head support each, and finally a cover over them all - very cosy!
The garden outside the cottage is laid out as a pottager garden and is worked on by students of the Minstead Training Project.
New Forest Furzey Gardens Minstead is part of a registered charitable organisation which provides day and residential accommodation for young people with learning disabilities.
It aims to develop the students' maturity, self respect and independence through life skills which can help them throughout their lives. It is an award winning training and theraputic centre. Part of the students project work involves regeneration and conservation work in the garden and you can help support them by buying plants and gifts which are for sale on site.
Here are details of Furzey Gardens
Here is the postcode for your Sat Nav SO43 7GL
If you approach from the A31 southbound be careful, you need to turn left once pass the Cadnam turnoff and shortly after a small layby on your left. It is signposted once you reach the outskirts of Minstead Village.
If you are approaching along the A337 southbound it is on your right. There are crossroads signposted Bartley on your left and Minstead on your right. Turn right and follow a winding road (Seamans Lane) until you get into Minstead - then follow the signs.
I hope you choose to visit this stunning and enchanting garden and charitable trust. We really enjoyed our visit and found the New Forest Furzey Gardens Minstead in the beautiful New Forest a "haven of peace and tranquility" exactly as it says on the brochure - but with a little bit more too - with all the little fairy doors.
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Here's some really great news - you can now get your very own personalised Ordnance Survey map for any area of the UK you like.
This was kindly given to me recently. It shows the New Forest National Park on 1:50 000 scale and is my own personal copy with my website on.
A wonderful present for anyone!