Look forward to a Spring break in the Test Valley

Enjoy the signs of Spring in wonderful gardens, learn a new skill, get back to nature with forest bathing, go wine tasting, fish on the famous River Test, treat yourself to unique glamping or a hotel stay and much more….

Children playing by the stream at Mottisfont, Hampshire. Mottisfont is an 18th century house surrounded by a garden paradise in Hampshire.

 Now is a great time to look forward to a Spring break away. Get out into stunning countryside, enjoy events and activities, or just relax and treat yourself!

 Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey are award winning Gardens which include fantastic seasonal planting displays set in 180 acres.  Each year memorable events take place, and this Spring is no exception. Try your hand at the art of Quilling with a Mandala workshop (4 March 10am to 4pm, £65.50 incl. lunch).  Using paper strips that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create a decorative design you will be shown how to create a quilled Mandala.

Or learn to paint with yarns (12 March, 3 and 4 June, 10-4pm, £73 incl lunch and materials). Using a simple frame loom (which you can keep) and colourful yarns, learn to create a painting. Take 10 Artists is an exhibition of work which portrays the world around us (1 March – 13 March 10 – 4pm closes 3pm on last day, free entry to exhibition).  Join a Special Plant Walk – Rare Plants on your Doorstep (18 March 9-10.30am £17.50, incl a hot drink and cake).  Be guided through the garden to discover endangered plants that Hilliers are helping protect through its conservation programme.  For chocolate lovers there’s a chance to join a Luxury Chocolate Making Workshop run by professional chocolatiers from Chocolate Craft (18 March 2023 10am – 12pm or 2pm – 4pm, £55p/p or £65p/p for two people). You’ll be tutored in making your very own delicious chocolates.

Slow down, forget the busyness of life, and find inner peace in a gentle, guided, 3-hour mindfulness in nature experience – Forest Bathing (Thurs 23 March, 20 April, 11 May, 15 June, 13 July, 21 September, 19 October, 16 November, and 7 December, 10.30am – 1.30pm, £40p/p including entry to the Gardens. £35p/p per session for gardens members). Learn the skill of Lino Printing (26 March 2023 10am to 4pm, £75 incl materials and lunch), designing a lino block using sketches or ideas, and make lino prints to create wonderful pictures. Enjoy an exhibition from the Hampshire and Berkshire Guild of Craftsmen, who will be showcasing some of the highest quality craft being produced in the region.  It will include pieces made from glass, wood, metal, textiles, ceramics and more. (15 March – 30 March 10 – 4pm, 3pm on last day, free entry). 

Another art exhibition is Creative Collection (4 May 2023 10am to 21 May 2023 5pm, free entry to exhibition).  Artlook, comprising seven artists from Hampshire and Wiltshire, will be exhibiting paintings inspired by the natural world and events around us. Inspired by Nature (1 April – 2 May 10 -5pm, closes 3pm last day, free entry to exhibition), brings more than 80 original works to the gardens by 3 different artists plus jeweller Argentum. Children will love the various activities laid on specially for them like the Spring Garden Explorer(1 – 31 March 10am -5pm, download the guide for free and bring along to the gardens), Family Archaeology Romans (4 April 10 – 12.30pm, £16 for 1 adult & 1 child; price does not include Garden admission) exploring artifacts, digging for finds, living like a Roman and trying marching biscuits!, Pond Dipping (4, 6,11, 13 and 15 April 10.30am to 3pm – last session 2.30pm, £3 per child for 25 mins of pond dipping, garden admission not included), and Natural Crafts – (5 April 9-3pm £35 per child).  Easter also brings some fun activities including Eggs-tra fun in the gardens with a trail of bunnies and bees (1-16 April, £2, normal garden admission applies). Enjoy a Spring Foraging Walk, identifying edible plants and herbs and learning cooking and preserving tips (19 April 2-3.30pm, followed by a cream tea in Jermyns House. £24).

Explore the gardens’ tree collection from around the world, this time taking a guided tour of trees native to Japan. (21 April 9am – 10.30am £17.50 incl hot drink and cake). Other events include Dragonflies and Sunflowers – a willow workshop. (7 May 10am to 4pm: £85.50p/p includes lunch and all materials. Early bird discount £75.50p/p if booked before May), A Day creating two lovely willow sculptures. Spring Propagation Workshop, (10 May, 10am to 3pm. £65.50p/p includes a light lunch and refreshments) will teach you all the basics on how to grow plants from seed, cuttings, and division in the springtime. Exploring Flower Function and Form is a Botanical Art Workshop, (27 May 10am to 28 May 4pm £150p/p includes lunch), exploring flower function and form with pencil and watercolour with botanical artist Sally Pinhey. Overcome the fear of the blank page by sketching in the gardens.  Experiment with different materials in Walk, Talk and Draw art workshop (17 May 10-3pm or 27 May 10 – 12, £32).  And enjoy Edible Ornamentals – another of Hilliers’ Special Plant Walks, (8 June 9 – 10.30am, £17.50 incl cake and hot drink), exploring new plants and flowers growing in the gardens that can be used in the kitchen. https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/hilliergardens

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