Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Amazing Arley Hall - an outstanding Cheshire garden

The buttressed borders at Arley Hall are thought to be among the earliest in Britain
Most of Britain's gardens have just one striking feature, but Arley Hall in Cheshire has several, starting with its herbaceous borders, which could possible be among the earliest in Britain. They are shown on a map dated 1846, were painted by George Elgood in 1889, and were certainly in existence long before Gertrude Jekyll popularised the concept of borders in garden design. But they are not the only notable feature here - there is also an astounding Ilex avenue (below) and a well-established Rootery. 
Arley Hall in Cheshire is home to Viscount Ashbrook and his wife, Zoe
Arley Hall has been in the same family for 800 years. It is home to Viscount Ashbrook and his wife, Zoe who saved the garden from near ruin after World War II. The planting here is exquisite, and arranged so that the flowering season starts early in spring and continues throughout the open season well into the fall. There is always part of the garden in flower - not so surprising when you consider that the 23 acres includes two walled gardens, a vinery, herb garden, scented garden and kitchen garden, as well as a wildflower meadow and well-established rock garden, known as The Rootery, plus an extensive woodland area.
The Walled Garden at Arley Hall with its unusual fountain designed by Tom Leaper
With so many features and different garden areas, you could easily spend a whole day here. But one of the most striking features of Arley Hall is its gloriously peaceful feel as you wander through the grounds. The house (above) is somewhat imposing and was built between 1832 and 1845 to the designs of a local architect. It is open to the public and is well worth visiting if you wish to see fine collections of furniture and family portraits, together with some good views over the surrounding parkland.
The Ilex Avenue at Arley Hall - one of the garden's most astounding features
One of the most striking features at Arley Hall is the avenue of 14 evergreen or holm oak trees (Quercus ilex), planted in 1840 by Rowland Egerton-Warburton. The tree is Mediterranean in origin and normally spreads to a width of about 60 ft, but here the 14 trees are meticulously clipped into cylinder shapes and appear almost to be pillars of a temple with no roof (above). Equally impressive is The Rootery (below) - a rock garden - which has astounding early and late season colours.
The long-established Rootery at Arley Hall has astounding colour displays early and late in the season
Although the gardens here have been open to the public since the 1960s, they have managed to retain their charm and sense of privacy, which, apart from their rather grand scale, makes them feel like a family garden. Located sufficiently far off the beaten track to ensure they're not over-crowded, they're certainly worth making a detour to see. And one of the highlights of the calendar here is the annual Garden Festival - due to take place on 21st and 22nd June this year. 
Arley Hall sits at the heart of verdant parkland in Cheshire
Make sure you don't miss any of the secret corners of this property including the richly-scented rose garden with its charming tea cottage, the Fish Garden, the wildflower meadow and the extensive woodland area, which sports many fine trees and unusual shrubs. The gardens are open daily from March to October, 11.00 - 17.00 (16.00 at beginning and end of season).   For other gardens in the area, check out Cheshire's GardensArley Hall is a member of the Historic Gardens Association (so friends visit free) and is also an RHS Partner Garden.

1 comment:

  1. How tall are those ilex columns? They look amazingly architectural. When I saw your photo I instantly thought of wandering through the temple columns in Karnak.