In 2001,the main gardens were only visible in winter. Scrub and woodland had reclaimed a once-great, 400 year old garden. Work began that year and since then we have been working to re-establish the gardens. This is an ongoing process and some of our planting will take many years to reach maturity. For many of our visitors this slow revival is part of the beauty of their visit. 500 years of history comes alive precisely because this is a work in progress. This year, for instance, the next batch of walls are being repaired, the river is being revived to encourage trout and our new plantings mingle with the surviving trees and shrubs planted by previous generations of gardeners.
Because the layout owes a lot to the Tudor and Jacobean period almost everything can be seen from the site of the old house. These are walled gardens that were meant to be seen so they were designed to be beautiful as well as productive. Our interpretation now includes a turf maze, yew tunnel and mature trees. Beyond is The River Witham and the massive terraces that rise from the water level. Our main focus is to give the gardens an aesthetically and financially sound future. We work to keep the fragile walls and ironwork protected from weeds and the elements and are gradually restoring them. Within this structure we have created some really interesting planting:
I have been working on these since we started hacking at the undergrowth in late 2001. They now cover at least 2 acres and include the Cedar meadow (full of bulbs for Spring Colour), the Terraces (for summer meadows) and the long grasses so important for insect and bird life in the old kitchen garden.
The Woodland Walk:
This area is dominated by two beautiful old trees, a horse chestnut and a black walnut. The planting here is designed to make the most of the spring light before the canopy of the trees closes down the sunshine reaching the understorey. It includes hellebores, aquilegias, hyacinths, snowdrops and epimediums.
The Velvet Border:
As you enter under the gatehouse this is planted with texture rather than colour in mind. It produces some surprising and striking colour combinations as a result.
The White Space Garden:
My aim here was to create a modern garden that would fit within the structure of a garden 400 years in the making. Inspired by the work of Charles Jencks, this garden is ostensibly a traditional white garden but within its structure there are subtle allusions to the nature of the universe and our place within it.
The Long Border:
Designed to peak in late summer, these 80m long borders have a yellow and white theme which can be seen from across the terraces or close up as you wander beside the river. The borders are given visual strength by repeated plantings of catmint, bamboo and roses interspersed with a variety of perennials such as Phlox ‘Fujiyama’ and pockets of annuals.
The Rose Meadows:
In the old enclosed kitchen garden we have planted roses in meadows which add a whole new dimension to viewing these beautiful flowers. The perfect shell pink or buff blooms can be seen through dried grasses in high summer. In Autumn, when the hay has been cut, they flower again. Each variety is labelled for comparison. The meadow is framed by young plantings of some exceptional lilacs.
Grafted in Lincolnshire especially for us, the orchard builds on the strong apple growing tradition in our area. Stamford was noted for its apple production so some of the trees seen here have names associated with the area such as ‘Barnack Beauty’ and ‘Lord Burghley’ We have planted pears, plums, quinces and gages. Last year more new apple and pear trees arrived. These are scions taken from some very old trees that survive in the village.
February: Drifts of snowdrops and aconites Spring: Daffodils, little blue bulbs, tulips and cowslips Summer:The swallows, roses and sweet peas Autumn: changing colours, late summer annuals, vegetables and greenhouse.
The Pickery, Cottage and Vegetable gardens are more domestic in scale. We hope these areas will inspire you in your own garden. See the menu for images of these areas.