“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures,” said Francis Bacon. Possibly. Perhaps a greater, although less pure, pleasure is to own a fantastic garden built and maintained by others. Whether that garden comprises formal walled showpieces, spacious lawns, wilder flowerbeds or all three, it enhances a property’s worth and appeal. Children always enjoy a great garden (their epic make-believe adventures among the herbaceous borders may even trump the allure of video games) and adults revel in the beauty, the tranquillity and the joy of showing the place off to several hundred guests at the annual summer party.
► Chiltern, US, $43,888,000
Where: Hillsborough, California, 17 miles (27km) south of San Francisco.
What: A five-bedroom house, plus three apartments and a guest house built in the “scale, proportion and spirit of English Tudor and Elizabethan country estates”.
Why: Even well-heeled neighbours will be impressed by this country mansion. Its interior has panelling and stained glass pulled from medieval European mansions. Its grounds encompass 60-year-old gardens, an orchard, rose gardens, a walled garden, a maze, a waterfall, fountains, a French parterre and koi garden.
Who: Christie’s International, www.christiesrealestate.com, tel: +1 310 385 2690
▲ Purchase Manor, US, $7.9m
Where: Harrison, Westchester County, New York, 27 miles (45km) from Manhattan.
What: A seven-bedroom house, all with en suite bathrooms, on three acres (1.2ha) overlooking Purchase golf course.
Why: Purchase, part of Harrison, is another wealthy American neighbourhood, home to the headquarters of multinationals including Pepsi and Mastercard. This Georgian-style pile has a state-of-the-art interior, which includes library, wine room and home theatre. A stream winds through the landscaped English-style gardens into a large pond with a fountain. Another appeal: the asking price has dropped by a million dollars.
Who: Houlihan Lawrence, www.houlihanlawrence.com, tel: +1 914 234 0308 (US), +44 (0)20 7467 5330 (UK)
▲ Manor Hall, UK, £8.5m
Where: Withington, Gloucestershire, nine miles (14.5km) from Cheltenham and Cirencester, about 90 miles (144km) from London.
What: A Grade II-listed 15th-century manor house with 10 en suite bedrooms, set in 55 acres (22.2ha).
Why: Lovely scenery and elegant buildings make the Cotswold Hills the epitome of old-fashioned English grandeur. This house fits in very well. The ancient main building (with minstrels’ gallery) is surrounded by formal gardens, which lead to extensive lawns, a bothy and a 3.25 acre (1.3ha) boating and fishing lake with three islands.
Who: Knight Frank, www.knightfrank.com, tel: +44 (0)20 7629 8171
► Castagneto Po, Italy, €17m-plus
Where: Turin Hill, northwest Italy, within reach of the Alps and the Mediterranean.
What: An 11th-century castle (rebuilt in 1835) in 173 acres (70ha), recently refurbished with modern amenities including lifts, baths and heating.
Why: The castle, rebuilt several times over the centuries, has more than 40 rooms. The grounds include various houses and outbuildings, plus terraces of wildflowers, ancient greenhouses, orchards and English-style parkland. It was the childhood home of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Who: ImmobilSarda, affiliate of Christie’s, www.christiesrealestate.com, tel: +39 0276 009446
▲ The Mayen Estate, Scotland, £4m-plus
Where: Rothiemay, Banffshire, 42 miles (67km) from Aberdeen, 35 miles (56km) from Aberdeen airport.
What: A B-listed Georgian mansion dating from 1788 with five en suite bedrooms, several cottages, 740 acres (300ha) of farm and woodland and three miles of mainly double-bank salmon fishing.
Why: A sporting, agricultural and residential estate surrounds a graceful house, majestic walled garden and wildflower meadow. It’s suitable for a shooting and fishing fan (or bird-watching and conservation enthusiast) who enjoys striding the hills as much as a turn around the garden.
Who: Strutt and Parker Banchory, www.struttandparker.com, tel: +44 (0)1330 826 800