The gardens of Gresgarth Hall, my home in Lancashire, were begun in 1980. Sited at the bottom of a valley, the house is flanked on three sides by steep hills where ancient oaks are the dominant species. Over the centuries the Artle Beck carved its way down to the River Lune and flows through the garden next to the house. On the west side, the view opens onto a small park and fields grazed by sheep. My challenge was to design gardens, which not only related to my love of symmetry, but imperceptibly flowed and related to the powerful landscape and wilderness beyond.
The formality near the house includes a simple green-and-white-planted forecourt of shrubs, climbers and yew hedges leading to a series of richly planted stone and turf terraces, featuring many roses, stepping down to the lake and Beck. The sinuous lake is framed by a spring walk, bog garden, wild garden and a circular croquet lawn, which gives onto hedged double herbaceous borders, a smaller hedged garden featuring fine pebble mosaics by Maggy Howarth and a white garden backed by a pleached lime walk, underplanted with many spring bulbs. Above the lake is the productive walled kitchen garden, a magnolia & hydrangea walk, large shrub beds and an orchard overlooking a small park grazed by sheep. A red-posted Chinoiserie bridge spans the Beck, leading to a romantically-planted woodland, a beech-hedge serpentine walk, several stone follies and an extensive arboretum with thousands of specimens including magnolias, rhododendrons and a National Collection of Styracaceae. The whole is a laboratory and passion project for me.
We have also drafted maintenance and management documents and continue to oversee the development of this exciting and well-known garden. Gresgarth provides the practice with hand-on experience in managing a large property, which contains most features of horticulture and design.