FANTASTIC flowers await at the opening of a Hampshire gardens this week.

The gardens at Houghton Lodge, near Stockbridge, open on Friday (March 1) with Snowdrops, Aconites and Irises among the floral offerings.

The grade two listed gardens avoided a serious problem this year as the nearby chalk streams of the River Test did not burst their banks.

But owner Anthea Busk said a family of badgers had left a small trail of destruction while trying to find food.

She said: “The badgers spent the winter folding back the turf on the great lawns looking for the grubs of Crane Fly, or Daddy Longlegs, which are a great treat to them. We are not really on the side of these grubs either as they are renowned for feasting on the roots of the grass.”

No serious damage was caused by the animals.

Visitors to the gardens can enjoy tea and cakes as well as expert displays by gardener Andy Phillips.

The gardens are open from 10am-5pm all week, except Wednesdays, until October 31.

Wednesday visits are by appointment only. Entry £5 for adults, free for children under-14. For more details visit