Arabella Lennox Boyd – invention and boundless imagination in the gardens at Gresgarth Hall

IMG_0139IMG_0048A chance remark and the right alignment of dates and here we are, wandering through these remarkable gardens created in the midst of a wooded valley, bisected by a tributary of the River Lune, a showcase for the imagination and talent of garden designer Arabella Lennox Boyd.

Up North, in the village of Caton outside of Lancaster and a short hop to the coast at Morecambe, a beautiful garden has been carved out of the woodland, a series of garden rooms, borders, lawns and terraces around a Gothic inspired fairytale house and black-reflecting lake, everywhere the sound of rushing water and enclosed in the wilder tree-studded slopes all about. The garden expands into the wilderness, with rhododendron walks and winding paths leading you back to the tamed, but wilder planting of the garden boundaries and back into manicured lawns, sharp-cut topiary yew, pleached trees and herbaceous borders. Everywhere the scent of roses and philadelphus.

IMG_0012IMG_0013IMG_0014IMG_0015IMG_0016The lake was banana-shaped when the Lennox Boyd’s came to Gresgarth Hall and it was widened to give the impression of a river opening out in front of the house. There has been a dwelling here since 1330; the current building was remodelled in the early 1800s in the fashionable Gothic style.

IMG_0019Rambling roses are used to great effect all through the gardens – trained on this side of the river, a tributary of the River Lune, but clambering into trees on the opposite bank and forming great fragrant free-form shrubs. The effect is still to mirror the planting, one side to the other.

IMG_0021IMG_0022IMG_0023IMG_0025IMG_0026IMG_0041IMG_0042IMG_0045IMG_0048IMG_0050IMG_0054A Chinese influence with the red posts combines with Arts and Crafts – the shallow steps for example. We return to the house for a closer look – this lawn and series of terraces overlooks the hillside opposite, across the river.

IMG_0028IMG_0033IMG_0034IMG_0037… and leads us around the lake once again.

IMG_0084IMG_0085IMG_0096.. and past the Mill buildings into the Kitchen Garden

and return to the herbaceous borders – or the Orchard (which I missed) –

IMG_0118IMG_0136IMG_0134IMG_0137IMG_0140IMG_0141IMG_0149IMG_0154IMG_0156From the calm of the lawned circle, bounded by clipped Yew with more Yew sentinels, the generosity of a series of herbaceous borders, colour themed, greets you –

IMG_0157IMG_0160IMG_0163IMG_0165IMG_0168IMG_0169IMG_0172IMG_0173IMG_0175IMG_0178IMG_0180And this smaller garden with the most beautiful pebble mosaic by Maggie Howarth, the elements and an olive tree –

IMG_0181IMG_0183IMG_0185IMG_0188IMG_0191IMG_0192IMG_0195IMG_0198IMG_0199IMG_0203… and to the front of the house with this Boar sculpture – Gresgarth translated refers to wild board – but before leaving the gardens, a beautifully simple allee of pleached trees underplanted wildly with geraniums and wild flowers, leads you back into the gardens, if you wish – another journey –


IMG_0018and a last look at the wilder banks of the river – though there is a serpentine enclosure in amongst the trees with a sculptural focal point – which can be viewed from the more formal gardens too –



To complete the day’s outing, we’re off to nearby Morecambe – a little gallery here –

2 thoughts on “Arabella Lennox Boyd – invention and boundless imagination in the gardens at Gresgarth Hall

  1. Thank you for this splendid, awe-inspiring journey through the gardens and home of Arabella Lennox Boyd.

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