The Plantsman’s Walk,
Or a little less than one quarter of it, leading into the Walled Gardens at Scampston in North Yorkshire. An avenue of limes with a border mainly of spring-flowering plants, including Paeonie rockii and Edgworthia chrystantha (two of my favourite plants, featured earlier in these entries), underplanted with many bulbs, and autumn flowering hydrangeas.
I like these gardens so much that I thought I ought to devote a little more space to showcasing why I think they are so special, or rather showing you, since I am adding rather a lot of pictures from my visit last week.
Drifts of Grass
The Plantsman’s Walk leads into the Drifts of Grass, more commonly known as the fish finger garden – the waves of grass Molinia caerulea ssp cerulea ‘Poul Peterson’ flower in the late summer and in the autumn colour up a bright biscuity orange. Swathes of this grass run through the close mown grass of the lawn. The shrub planting to the side is maturing so that the neighbouring gardens will eventually be hidden from view. Beautiful furniture, throughout the garden in fact, always low, to take advantage of the planting.
Spring and Summer Box Borders
Three metre squares of box sit within traditional herbaceous borders backed by beech hedges -the choice of plants ensures that they look their best at different times of year.
The Perennial Meadow
The Main Event, in the centre of the garden around the dipping pond, is the Perennial Meadow. Piet Oudolf has used the style of naturalised planting to give a long season of interest. The form of each plant, leaf, flower, stem, is equally as important as its colour and shape. The area is a magnet for butterflies and bees and as before, the low seats have been specifically chosen for this space.
The Plant Identification List and Perennial Meadow Plan provided by the gardens details 1399 plants and a detailed plan of the four quarter beds of the Meadow. The planting in this garden includes
- Achillea Summerwine and Walter Funke
- Allium christophii
- Allium karavatiense Ivory Queen
- Allium shubertii
- Amsonia tabernaemontana var salicifolia
- Asceplas incarnata
- Astrantia Claret
- Baptisia australis
- Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum
- Coreopsis Moonbeam
- Deschampsia cespitosa
- Dianthus carthusianorum
- Echinacea pallida and paradoxa
- Eryngium tripartitum
- Festuca mairei
- Geraneum Brookside, Rose Claire and soboliferum
- Helenium Kupferzwerg and Rubinzwerg
- Kanuatia macedonica
- Nectoscordum sicilum hybrids
- Nepeta racemosa Walker’s Low
- Origanum Rosenkuppel
- Panicum Heavy Metal, Rehbraun, Shenandoah
- Pennisetum Cassian
- Penstemon digitalis
- Perovskia Blue Spire
- Phlomis russeliana
- Rhayza orientalis
- Rudbeckia maxima and occidentalis
- Salvia Amethyst, Blauhugel and Mainacht
- Sedum Matrona
- Sesleria autumnalis
- Stachys monnieri Hummelo
- Succisa pratensis
- Teucrium hircanicum
- Thermopsis caroliana
- Trifolium rubens
- Veronica Spitzentram
The Katsura Grove
The backdrop to the perennial meadow is the Katsura Grove. The leaves of these trees have a strong scent of caramel in the autumn and are underplanted with ‘woodlander’s which give colour late into the year.
The Cut Flower Garden
A series of circular beds, edged in box, with rustic supports for climbing plants. A little unkempt with a hotch-potch of planting, but then, just what you might want for a cutting garden! Lovely views through into the Drifts of Grass, while the hedging plants mature.
The Mount and the view over the 4-acre walled garden
A flat-topped pyramid, with steps up on one side, surrounded by long grasses, mown paths and cherry trees, affording a view right across the garden. A simple and very effective garden – white martagon lilies particularly beautiful in this setting. The wildflower meadow is full of bulbs for a spring display.
There are other parts to the scheme, the Serpentine Garden containing six serpentine hedges of clipped yew contained by clover shaped elements. Shaping these sinuous serpentines is a work in progress and is a little shaggy just now (one picture, from The Mount, below). The Silent Garden uses columns of yew, which will grow to 3m before being flat-topped, amongst a green lawn and large square reflecting pool. This too, a little shaggy but I can see the point. The Vegetable Garden is just that, raised beds and all a bit dull just now. Sorry.
But then it wasn’t so long ago that the walled garden was being used to grow Christmas Trees…. The boundary hedging and structure was put in around 1999 and the herbaceous planting in 2003, so it is a young garden and developing. There is an ongoing programme of propagation, pruning and replanting in place. Much imitated, the gardens remain Piet Oudolf’s largest private commission in the UK. The remainder of the grounds are being rediscovered and there is more to explore. The House too, has limited times for guided tours.
But the Walled Garden is the thing, and worth visiting whatever season – I saw it a few years ago, late Autumn, when all was brown and gold, with black and red highlights and the Katsura caramelising the air. Exceptional then, as special now.
A link to my Facebook album for photographs from that visit is here -