The Elizabethan Walled Garden
The observant visitor will note that the Elizabethan builder did not use a spirit level when building the wall and let the courses of brickwork follow the slope of the land!
The walled garden was built at the same time as the Elizabethan Manor House and was originally used to grow fruit and vegetables for the household.
The previous function of growing fruit and vegetables has now been superseded by a more decorative purpose. It is laid out as a demonstration garden, exhibiting both practical and ornamental forms of horticulture.
The garden is divided into rectangular beds radiating from a central circular bed with wide turf paths defining the areas, similar in design to a French potager or a Victorian kitchen garden.
Visitors can see types of immaculately cut demonstration hedges ranging from deciduous purple plum, forsythia, snowy mespilus Amelanchier Canadensis, beech and hornbeam to evergreen pyracantha, Berberis x stenophylla, Lonicera nitida, privet and Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’.
An eclectic range of demonstration beds feature hardy and half-hardy annuals, perennials, everlasting flowers and shrubberies for different purposes and locations, dahlias, chrysanthemums and sweet peas.
At the south end of the garden there are plants for shady north walls, the shrubby salvias from the National Collection, such as S. reptans, S. lyrata, S.bulleyana, tall S nemorosa and S. somaliensis. Other salvias are displayed at the Visitor Centre and the Balustrade Garden, with the least hardy under glass in the cool greenhouse.
Trees and shrubs with beautiful spring flowers include from China the fragrant, heavenly bells of the wintersweet Chimonanthus praecox, Sycopsis sinensis, winter honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima, Viburnum farreri with pink stems and scented flowers and Cornus mas – the Cornelian cherry.
In autumn displays of chrysanthemums, asters and dahlias predominate. Shrubs with berries provide further interest with the deep purple berries of Callicarpa bodinieri and russet foliage and rich blue flowers of the Ceratostigma plumbaginoides.
Around the walls are planted a variety of climbers ranging from the appropriately named winter flowering Clematis cirrhosa
‘Freckles’ and scarlet Chaenomeles x superb ‘Nicoline’ on the east facing wall, to Chanomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’ and Akebia quinata on the west facing side. The south facing wall supports tender Fremontodendron California Glory, Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’, and deep blue Californian lilac Ceanothus Veitchiarus.
A south facing lean-to greenhouse formerly a vinery, is home to tropical plants and trees. Banana palms from the Balustrade Terrace winter here beside fragrant grapefruit, orange and lemon trees which bear fruit!
A graceful weeping Kashmir Cypress Cupressus cashmeriana grows on the west facing wall.
Bird of Paradise flowers Strelitzia regina and Angel’s trumpets Datura x candida mingle with Lantana camara ‘Rose Bouquet’, and ‘Professor Raoul ‘. The orange Clivia miniata and tubular bells of Justicia rizzini should interest the house plant grower, while passion flowers Passiflora racemosa, ‘Cup and Saucer’ plant Cobaea scadens, Plunbago capensis and the cented Jasminum polyantheum grow against the walls.