Canons Ashby Summer Gardens

Summertime view of House and Gardens

Our pick of the top five things to see and do outdoors this season

The Hobby bird hunting dragonflies

Look to the sky when you're out and about at Canons Ashby and you may catch sight of the Hobby bird, a rare and welcome visitor, thanks to our newly restored medieval ponds. Watch it soar skyward and dive with closed wings, which only open a few feet from the ground. Reaching speeds close to 100 miles an hour, it's one of the few predators that can outfly swifts. With acceleration faster than a racing driver, this remarkable bird of prey catches dragonflies, other large insects and small birds on the wing.

Will you be lucky and spot this high speed predator?
a hobby bird in flight

Summertime flowers and plants

Stroll through our beautiful gardens for inspiration and ideas to take home. Each year our gardeners create different designs of seasonal bedding, with plants based on varieties that Sir Henry, the Victorian Dryden, would have used. This summer you'll see pinks, whites and blues, edged with bronze and silver. From terraces filled with begonias, antirrhinums, salvias and dahlias to perennial phlox and verbena bonariensis, you're sure to find old and new favourites to enjoy. A visit to Canons Ashby isn't complete until you breathe in the scent of our roses, clematis, honeysuckle and jasmin, which climb over the honey coloured walls.

See, smell and enjoy flowers and plants to inspire and delight
Sunlight on summer daisies

A taste of Canons Ashby at home

Our plants are a lovely reminder of your visit. There's a seasonal selection for sale outside the Coach House and if you're not sure of a particular variety, have a chat to one of our gardeners who'll be happy to help. You'll also see our own delicious fresh produce used in the Stables Tearoom, maintaining Sir Hentry's tradition of growing the food needed for his kitchen. For a taste to take home, pop into the Potting Shed for the day's choice of handpicked fruit and vegetables for sale.

Freshly picked vegetables for you to enjoy at home
Gardeners working on Canons Ashby vegetable plot

Busy bees and butterflies

Bees, butterflies and other insects thrive on our Victorian themed plants. Throughout the gardens and grounds there are different types of bumble bee, as well as masonry, mining and cuckoo bees (see how many bee species you can spot!). We also have honey bees in our hive at the bottom of the garden and in the Priory tower stonework. Both the bees and butterflies love our plants and flowers, especially the amaranthus foxtail, antirrhinum and verbena bonariensis.

A busy bee enjoying the nectar and pollen
A bee enjoying beautiful purple flowers

Family Fun

With so much to do, there's fun for all the family at Canons Ashby. Enjoy a picnic in the wildflower paddock, where the kids can build their own den. Then a relaxing walk around our beautiful gardens with an I-Spy trail, followed by hide-and-seek in the green court behind the topiary. If you're feeling adventurous, explore our wonderful open parkland with lots of opportunities for the youngsters to tick off their list of 50 Things Before You're 11¾. Or, for a more leisurely pursuit for everyone, why not try a game of croquet underneath our 270 year old cedar tree. 

Fun and games for all the family
A family enjoying croquet while a small girl plays with building blocks