Family Days Out in Hampshire: Furzey Gardens, New Forest

At Furzey Gardens, Hampshire, deep in 'nowhere' just at the top of the New Forest, you are greeted by donkeys, who hang out in the woodland near the car park and like to say hello to new arrivals.  A big highlight for small people, and it just gets better from there!

As usual Tatiana can't resist an animal kiss

Entering via the lovely little shop and cafĂ© (great food by the way, and a lovely terrace), you head down through the gardens where beautiful planting, hidden fairy doors, secret paths and passages awaits.  The girls love searching for fairies here, following the trails of fairy dust and peering round corners and into bushes to see who they might spot.

Run in conjunction with the Minstead Trust which helps people with learning disabilities to learn essential life skills, work skills and engenders the confidence needed to live more independently, the gardens have a willing army of helpers who are busy year round.  The planting starts with spring bulbs, followed by a blast of azaleas and rhododendrons, then scented herbaceous plants and summery shrubs, while autumn and winter see an array of tree colour, heathers and shrubs.

Across 10 acres there is interest for any gardener, and the woodland planting offers inspiration aplenty.  There is even an award-winning RHS Chelsea garden.  We love to visit several times a year to see the changing seasons and plants.

Children will love the fairy doors and windows, the 16th century cottage, the treehouses, the wildlife and the magical secret pathways that take them on a voyage of discovery across this whimsical garden.  Even the fences look like gnomes built them!

The excitement of finding another door doesn't ever dim

Relax on the benches or at the picnic tables in the play area while the children explore and play freely.  With the wonderful Mrs Tiggywinkle land boat, 'Smurf' houses (actually African-style round houses), castellated ramparts, tunnels, swings and a maze, there is certainly plenty to do.  Not to mention leaves, pine cones, mud, bark and sticks!  Just make sure you keep a look out for trolls...

A fun day out for all the family, Furzey Gardens is open year round.  Family of four entry costs just £24 (RHS members go free), or buy a season ticket for £75 and visit as many times as you like!

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