Events this summer at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

  1. Home
  2. UK
  3. Leisure
  4. Events this summer at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

It's hard to express in words how humans feel amongst plants and trees - it might be where we are naturally most calm and connected - and the UK can sometimes go under appreciated for its abundance of arboreal (aren't I clever?) offerings...

One such offering, set inside the sprawling woodlands of Hampshire near Romsey, is the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. It's a world-famous garden and arboretum which began life as the private horticultural collection of (you guessed it) Sir Harold Hillier, who grew the family business his grandfather began back in 1864 into the Hillier brand of nurseries and garden centres based across the south west of England.

His aim, back in 1953, was to bring together the most comprehensive and unrivalled collection of trees, shrubs and hard hardy plants in the UK - and it's certainly possible he achieved it here!

(In case you didn't know, arboretum is the fancy Latin word for a botanical garden of trees - drop it into conversation the next chance you get!) With over 42,000 plants across 12,000 different species, there's plenty of plant to appreciate!

The site combines combines stunning gardens, family-friendly activities, and a touch of art and culture - it's well worth a visit at any time of year but, since there are tons of events going on throughout the summer, we thought we’d let you know all about them so you can choose the best day for it!

Family Events

Pond Dipping - 28-30th May

What is lurking in our ponds? Have a look! See what is in the Education Garden ponds; can you find diving beetles, nimble pond skaters and slimy snails?

£3 per child* (for a 25-minute session). All equipment is provided. Suitable for ages 3+ years. 

Sessions from 10.30am – last session at 2.30pm (Weather permitting). Click here to book

Outdoor Adventure Holiday Club - 28th to 30th May

Want to be an outdoor explorer? The Outdoor Learning Company will be holding an outdoor adventure holiday club in the Gardens; with a Forest School ethos, activities range from den building, bug hunting, and scavenger hunts to tool work (using bow saws, knives, loppers etc), and more!

Sessions run between 9.30am - 3.30pm in all weathers - click here to book

Family Music in the Gardens - 24th August

A brilliant family evening out, featuring a talented 75-piece orchestra and singers performing popular hits and tunes from the movies, with FREE children’s entertainment all set in the beautiful Gardens. Refreshments and snacks will also be on sale on the night.

Price: Adult: £25 / Child (2-16yrs): £14.50 - click here to book

Last Night of the Proms - 7th September

The renowned Southampton Concert Orchestra, conducted by Paul Ingram, will be performing popular classics and all the usual Last Night of the Proms favourites, including Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia - bring a picnic, champagne, blankets and chairs!

Price: Adult: £25 / Child (2-16yrs): £14.50 - click here to book


PhotoFusion - 8th May to 2nd June

Glassmaker Sue Tinkler and photographer Paul Sansome find shared inspiration from natural environments such as birch woodland and chalk streams, when taking an abstract view of industrial heritage or from specific locations such as The Hebrides or Iceland. Exhibited photography, art glass and jewellery will be for sale.

FREE entry to the exhibition

Wessex Guild of Craftsmen - 4th to 16th June

The renowned Wessex Guild of Craftsmen will be exhibiting a diverse range of arts and crafts, all handmade and designed by each exhibitor. There will be live demonstrations throughout the exhibition to showcase the excellent standards of workmanship and design among the artisans, in both traditional and contemporary techniques. A must see event!

FREE entry to the exhibition

Opposite Ends - 19th to 27th June

Renowned mixed-media artist Jo Elswood displays her exciting, evocative abstracts, and award-winning botanical artist Christina Hart-Davies displays her stunningly realistic watercolours in a dual exhibition the celebrates the natural world in opposing styles.

Framed and unframed work, cards, books and other treasures will be on sale.

FREE entry to the exhibition

Workshops and Classes

Mini Scrappy Quilt - 8th June

Textile artist Samantha Boot will show you how to layer favourite scraps into a small quilt top, before densely stitching them all by hand and getting you started on a project you can take home to finish.

Bring along your favourite natural fibre fabrics, from sources such as clothing, household linens or quilting cotton scraps (no scrap too small!), as well as a basic hand sewing kit, plus thimbles if you use them. All other materials provided.

Click here to book

Summer Flowers Tea Lights & Sun Catchers - 22nd June

Immerse yourself in a day of creativity and Glass Fusion with your tutor Linda Rowe (who has 24 years of experience). You will learn tips and techniques of the fusing process and design your own pieces using pre-cut shapes - you will make a minimum of 3 pieces that will be kiln fired and posted to you.

Suitable for beginners and those who have worked with glass before - click here to book

Mandarin Duck - 6th July

Explore the techniques required to complete this colourful duck using Assorted Colour Pencils, with An introduction to Colour Pencil from the award-winning artist Karen Coulson. All materials supplied to use within the session

Suitable for all abilities - click here to book

Reduction Linoprinting - 27th to 28th July

A 2-day workshop designed for those with some linoprinting experience who want to try relief printing with more than one colour using the same lino-block.

You will be tutored by Aylsa Williams and Mandy Smith, artist printmakers who exhibit regularly in Southampton and beyond. They will guide you through the process with step-by-step demonstrations on how to design each layer of your print, transferring your design to your lino using registration techniques for accurate repeat printing. Working on A5 blocks, you will learn useful tips on carving and mark making and how to ink your lino.

All materials are included - click here to book


Lecture Lunch: The History of the World's Largest Horticultural Organisation - 4th June

To mark the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, learn about the remarkable history of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and what it does today to keep alive the memories of the more than 1.7 million servicemen and women whose graves, cemetaries and memorials it maintains.

There will be coffee at 11am, followed by the lecture and a two-course lunch served in Jermyn’s House set in the heart of the Gardens.

Click here to book

Mid-Summer Evening Supper and Guided Tour - 20th June

Celebrate the summer and come for a rare opportunity to see the Gardens in the evening, after the site has closed, with a fascinating seasonal guided evening tour of the Gardens led by their horticultural expert, followed by a supper of “Hampshire Platter” and dessert in the Garden Restaurant.

Click here to book

Luxury Afternoon Tea Experience with Baroness Bollsover - 26th June

“Jam or Cream first?"

Join the splendid Victorian Baroness Bollsover for a truly interactive presentation as she demonstrates the essential Afternoon Tea Etiquette in the Garden Restaurant & Tea Rooms set in the heart of the Gardens. Take a step back in time, as the Baroness recollects her Afternoon Teas in the reign of her beloved Queen Victoria. Discover the answer to some of life's most difficult dilemmas - milk or tea first? Jam or cream?

Hats are always welcome but entirely optional!

Price includes a ‘light’ afternoon tea - click here to book

Masterclass: Perennial Borders

Following a complimentary hot drink and an illustrated talk, go on a guided tour of the Gardens’ iconic 250m double herbaceous Centenary Border led by a gardening expert; hear about how staff maximise all year-round interest from their perennial borders, and the design principles used, the planting selection and tips on how to maintain your own perennial borders.

Ideal for the new gardener or those with some experience - click here to book