One of the most magnificent areas of the gardens is the Italian Garden, which was designed to display William Waldorf Astor’s collection of Italian sculptures. Over 1,000 men worked on the grand design, with around 800 men taking two years to dig out the 38-acre (14.2 ha) lake at the far end of the Italian Garden. Within four years the 125 acres (50 ha) of classical and natural landscapes were constructed and planted. The garden is only now reaching its full maturity and includes the colourful walled Rose Garden which contains over 5,000 bushes.
There are many water features around the gardens, including Half Moon Pond, the Cascade, the cool and shady grottoes, the formal Loggia fountain inspired by the Trevi fountain in Rome, and the less formal Two Sisters’ Pond.
Other areas that you can stroll through include the Tudor Garden, Rhododendron Walk and Anne Boleyn’s Walk, with its collection of trees planted more than 100 years ago.
In recent years, the present owners have made several changes to the gardens, including the installation of the Millennium Fountain that can be found on Sixteen Acre Island forming an interesting feature at the far end of this more informal area of the gardens. The 100-metre herbaceous border has been reinstated and Sunday Walk and Church Gill Walk created, providing a peaceful woodland garden following the course of a stream. In addition to the existing Yew Maze, a splashing Water Maze has been built on Sixteen Acre Island – a unique feature which is especially popular with children.