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If you plan on visiting Lemington Spa, Jephson Gardens is one attraction that you shouldn't miss. Being centrally located and just a short stroll from the Leamington's main shopping areas, the gardens provide an ideal environment in which to catch your breath and unwind after a strenuous shopping trip.
The River Leam runs through the gardens and separates the lake, formal displays and parkland areas on the north side from the boating lake on the south side (Mill Gardens). In the summer months thousands of visitors flock to the gardens to enjoy the formal bedding displays, boating lake or simply to relax in the sunshine. There is often nothing more romantic than taking a loved one to the lake on a hot sunny day. The gardens stretch for 14.6 acres and there are many beautiful floral displays to be enjoyed.
The History of the Gardens
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The gardens were created in 1831 and were originally known as the Newbold Pleasure Gardens. In 1846 the gardens were renamed to honour Dr. Henry Jephson, who was responsible for promoting the town as a Spa 'destination'.
The gardens soon became a popular feature of the town, well frequented by locals and 'must see' attraction for visitors and tourists.
Families enjoyed going to the gardens to witness the ornamental fountains and spectacular floral displays, or to play tennis and croquet. For those interested in horticulture, Jephson Gardens proved to be an ideal day out.
The boathouse was not originally built at the same time as the gardens were created, but was a later addition, added at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1998 the gardens and many or its attractions were badly damaged by floods. The area was given a £3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was used to fund the reconstruction of many of the original attractions, as well as build new ones.
Over the last decade, Jephson Gardens has received a number of awards in recognition of their historical and cultural importance.
- In 2004 it won the RHS "Best Park in Britain" award.
- In 2006/7 and again in 2007/8 it won a GreenFlag award.
- In 2008 the the gardens were voted a EH Green Heritage site. There are currently just 52 parks/gardens to have won this much-coveted award.
In addition, there are number of Grade II listed monuments to be found within the garden.
Things to See and Do
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One of the most recommended parts of Jephson Gardens is the temperate glasshouse. This recent addition is particularly popular in the colder months! There is also a teaching studio and a restaurant which constantly serves delicious and affordable meals.
With the exception of deep winter, colourful floral displays can be enjoyed year-round. The large variety of unusual tree specimens provide an additional interest, especially in the autumn months when the leaves change colour, providing a blaze of fiery colour before falling to ground.
Another area of the garden well worth exploring is the sensory garden. This tactile, hands on (gentle hands only, please) experience has been designed to delight the senses and contains a collection of plants especially chosen for their scented and/or aromatic qualities.
As mentioned earlier, the boating lake is great for a romantic afternoon. Rowing and motor boats can be hired for leisurely cruses along the river, from where the gardens and surrounding Warwickshire countryside can be best appreciated. There are also ducks and swans that you can feed on the lake and in the surrounding river. This helps to make Jephson Gardens a great place to take the whole family. Children love nothing more than feeding the ducks. They may also get quite excited by the thought of going on a boat!
Jephson Gardens – Useful info
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All year, daily, dawn to dusk
Temperate House and Restaurant:
Summer - 10am to 5pm
Winter - 10am to 4pm
Entrance free, inc. temperate house.
Dogs permitted but must be kept on lead
No cycling allowed