6 of the best walled gardens to visit in Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:33 22 June 2018
Fancy a peek into some of Yorkshire's most beautiful gardens? We'll give you a leg up
Walls have had a lot of bad publicity of late. There they were, minding their own business, keeping next door’s dog off your lawn and giving the postman somewhere to lean his bike, when suddenly they became one of the most controversial things on the planet.
It all started about two years ago, when some chappie across the pond (you know the feller – unfortunate name; unconvincing hair; leader of the free world) unveiled his plan for a magic, see-through wall that was biglier than anything anyone had ever built before.
Almost overnight, walls became headline news. Families fell out about them, people started fights in pubs at the mere mention of mortar and brickies went into hiding to escape crowds chanting ‘Build the wall’ every time they got their trowel out.
But now, two years on, walls are beginning to emerge from the shadows. We’ve slowly come to realise that just because one wall is a giant, idiotic folly, it doesn’t mean all walls are, to quote a revered American president (was it Lincoln?) ‘bad dudes’.
As part of the ongoing wall rehabilitation process, here are you some of our favourite walls, built with good intentions to protect and preserve some of Yorkshire’s finest gardens.
You might imagine all walled gardens by their very nature have a traditional atmosphere, but that’s not always the case.
The walled garden at Scampston Hall is a beautiful contemporary space, designed by renowned Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf, renowned for his signature use of bold drifts of herbaceous perennials and grasses to create structure and flow.
His scheme at Scampston, just outside Malton in North Yorkshire, features modern, perennial meadow planting alongside more traditional areas within the walls of the original 18th century kitchen garden and the lush landscape of the adjacent Capability Brown parkland. Oudolf’s garden, which opened to the public in 2005, is his largest private commission in the UK.
The walled garden at Swinton Park, created and cared for by Susan Cunliffe-Lister, mother of the current Baron of Masham, has a practical as well as aesthetic purpose, namely to supply the estate’s restaurants. She introduced an ingenious low maintenance way of growing fruit and veg, so she and the staff can spend more time caring for the surrounding acres of parkland. Her team laid down a membrane covered in gravel, so herbs and other plants could seed themselves. They also installed raised beds to grow smaller, quicker developing vegetables.
The four-acre walled garden, which is now home to more than 60 varieties of produce, is open to visitors all year round. It’s just part of the outdoors offering though, so leave plenty of time – two to three hours should do it – to explore the rest of the park.
The walled garden at Castle Howard is also productive, providing fruits, veggies and flowers for the castle kitchen and the on-site farm shop via its potager – a French-inspired ornamental vegetable garden.
But produce is only part of the story. The remainder of this tranquil, beautifully manicured space, laid out in the early 18th century, has been transformed into a stunning rose garden in memory of Lady Cecilia Howard. There are around 2,000 modern roses of all varieties in three enclosures – Lady Cecilia’s Garden, Sundial Garden and Venus Garden – providing a sheltered paradise of colour and scent amid romantic Italianate trellises, hornbeam hedges and sun-burnished brick.
Burton Agnes Hall
A familiar name crops up again if you head east to Burton Agnes Hall. Susan Cunliffe-Lister’s family took over the East Yorkshire property in 1989 and, a year later, she set about creating a walled garden that reflected the two Elizabethan ages that bookend the life of the house.
It is now a unique horticultural haven for more than 3,000 different plants, nestled in rose beds, vegetable gardens, herbaceous borders, fruit beds and even a jungle garden.
Helmsley Walled Garden
Now, we’re not saying Helmsley walled garden was a jungle in the 1980s, but it wasn’t far off. Left derelict for a number of years, the 250-year-old green space was unkempt, unproductive and, frankly, unloved. But everything has changed for the better since then. The garden, nestled snugly alongside Helmsley Castle at the foot of the North York Moors, is now a bustling visitor attraction, drawing appreciative crowds with its kitchen garden, orchard, hot border, healing garden and plant centre.
As an added bonus, Helmsley walled garden is also dedicated to doing good as well as looking good. Funds raised via entrance fees, the plant centre, gift shop and café are invested in horticultural therapy for vulnerable adults.
Our final pick of the walled garden crop is at Beningbrough Hall, where more than 50 varieties of apples and pears grow among numerous other fruits and vegetables in a traditionally cultivated two-acre plot.
All the harvested produce is used in the Walled Garden Restaurant and the kitchen garden shop, so you can test for yourself whether it tastes as good as it looks.