Cragside is in full bloom with a striking display of rhododendrons

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The National Trust is encouraging visitors to come and see the bloom of Cragside’s founder’s favourite plant.

The grounds that surround Cragside House, with their tall trees, dynamite made ravines, trickling burns and sparkling lakes, may look natural but they are in fact part of a grand designer garden.

The rhododendrons are part of this design, and were brought to the landscape by Cragside’s creators, William and Margaret Armstrong. Together, they transformed the once plain moorland into a Himalayan-style paradise.

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They cover the grounds and flower for a few short weeks every spring, usually towards the end of May and into June. They transform the usually green grounds into a kaleidoscope of colour. This can be seen especially around the Rock Garden, which usually starts to flower first and then the rest of the estate follows.

Cragside is a colourful place this time of year.Cragside is a colourful place this time of year.
Cragside is a colourful place this time of year.

If you pay a visit, be sure to check out their special varieties, including ‘Lady Armstrong’, which William bred for his wife and named after her. Its dark pink flowers can be found in the middle of the Rock Garden.

Cragside has a lot of land to cover, so if you’re wondering where to start, here’s the best places to admire its colourful display.

First, is a worthwhile ramble through the ‘rhodies’ in the Rock Garden to see those unique varieties, perfect for photographs. Then, you are in the perfect spot to visit the Iron Bridge, which looks back towards the House. Here you will see the Armstrong’s home emerging from the top of a rugged Rock Garden, with the bright and colourful ‘rhodies’ creating a patchwork-quilt of colour.

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Next, one of the waymarked walk is a great way to immerse yourself in the display. There are eight to choose from, but a visitor favourite is the Gun Walk. On this hike through the heart of Cragside, visitors will discover stone paths and tracks lined with flowers. With the blooms appearing to cascade down the rugged terrain.

The flowers were enjoyed by all.The flowers were enjoyed by all.
The flowers were enjoyed by all.

Finally, the Carriage Drive is a great way to experience the scale of the rhododendron planting across the grounds. It’s a six-mile loop around the grounds and there are plenty of spaces to stop for photos and do some more exploring.

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