Thursday, 19 May 2011

Sizergh Castle - a garden full of surprises!

Sizergh Castle is a real hidden gem in the heart of Cumbria - with a building that dates in part to the 14th century and glorious gardens - particularly the rock garden, added in the 1920s. Home to the Strickland family for more than 700 years, it now comes under the stewardship of the National Trust, but seems to attract relatively few visitors to the garden. Most come to see the castle, which is a pity, because the garden is exceptional and full of surprises.
The Rock Garden, added in 1926 by Sir Gerald Strickland
Sizergh is not helped by the paltry listing it gets from "The Good Gardens Guide", with nothing more than a six-line entry at the end of the Cumbria section! It certainly deserves a full entry and I would have thought a star would have been in order, especially if you're in the area visiting the other gardens like Levens Hall and Holker Hall, which both get two-star gradings and are within spitting distance.
The Rock Garden is filled with ferns and conifers - which make for a glorious colour palette
The garden here is divided into distinct parts, with the Rock Garden at one end of the property and the Dutch Garden at the opposite end. The Rock Garden was planted in 1926 by castle incumbent, Sir Gerald Strickland, who planted conifers here along with ferns. The result, nearly a century later, is an astounding combination of vibrant colours and verdant greens - crowded into a delightful one-acre plot with the castle as a backdrop. Today there are nearly 75 species of conifer here, including many dwarf varieties, that have somewhat outgrown their category. But all this makes for a striking colour palette, particularly in springtime and autumn.
   There is also a working kitchen garden, complete with scarecrow (left); a wildflower bank, which is noteworthy in springtime when the daffodils are in bloom; and a Dutch garden, planted with Prunus 'Tai Haku' for further dazzling blossom effects in spring. This leads on to the South Garden.
The Dutch garden, with immaculately clipped topiary and stunning blossom in springtime
The Dutch Garden (above) has impeccably clipped box hedges and an avenue of flowering cherry trees, which sadly, I missed. Part of the charm of this property is the surprises you find round every corner, and then of course, you've got the castle, originally built to defend the surrounding countryside from invasion. Today, the only invasion you're likely to encounter is the hordes of summer visitors, who arrive in coaches. 
Looking out over the lake and surrounding countryside at Sizergh
But if you are in the area, this really is a garden worth visiting. It's quite different to the other gardens I've featured from my trip to Cumbria, but definitely one for the "Wish List" if you're heading north of Manchester this summer. Open daily from March until the end of October from 11.00-5.00. Free admission to National Trust members.

4 comments:

  1. I love the header pix... so cheerful n bright!
    The gardens look so immaculate and well maintained n yes so inviting. Thx for sharing!

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  2. Yes, I would definately like to see the castle, cause I love anything made of stone....but I realy LOVE the rock garden!!!!

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  3. My goodness..that is a beautiful garden! So lush and full!

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