Friday, 29 July 2011

VW Festival at Harewood

VW Festival at Harewood
Photo Credit - Jonny Harris
Harewood goes VW crazy on Sunday 14 August with one of the UK’s biggest VW Festivals. Join in the fun on Sunday or camp overnight on the Saturday to fully immerse yourself in VW heaven. There’s something for everyone at the Harewood VW Festival and if you pre-book your tickets online you could win a 1970s VW Beetle, with all proceeds from the raffle going to two great local charities.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Top Ten Must-See Summer Gardens

Hatfield House Gardens
As well as being among the finest stately homes, castles and palaces in the country, the Treasure Houses of England are also world-renowned for their magnificent gardens.

Here’s a selection of what each of the properties has to offer:

The Maze and Grotto, Leeds Castle
Lose yourself in the spiralling maze planted in 1988 with 2,400 yew trees, part of which when viewed from the centre mirrors a queen’s crown.  The only way to return to civilisation is through an underworld grotto, complete with macabre forms and mythical beasts created from shells, minerals and wood. 

A second maze, the Turf Maze, is located above the top of the Great Water, close to the children’s play area.  Designed for younger children, the circles of turf lead to a small wooden castle in the centre of the maze.

The Water Terraces, Blenheim Palace
The majestic Water Terraces are a remarkable 20th-century achievement, compared to the Parterre d’Eau at Versailles.  A major part of the 9th Duke’s outstanding legacy to the Palace, he took inspiration from Bernini, whose river-gods fountain on the lower terrace is a scale model of the original in Rome’s Piazza Navona. 

Built between 1925 and 1930, the two terraces are a tranquil setting, linked by a wall of caryatids, carved in situ by Visseau and flanked by tiers of shells.  The head and torso of one caryatid are modelled on one of the gardeners at the time that happened to walk by as Visseau was working.  The features of the 9th Duke’s second Duchess, Gladys, adorn the faces of a pair of sphinxes on the lower terrace.

Ornamental Kitchen Garden, Beaulieu
Beaulieu literally means 'beautiful place' and the gardens certainly live up to the name. Originally the grounds of the Abbey, the varied gardens include the fragrant Victorian Flower Garden, with a dedicated rose garden featuring a number of old garden roses, the informal Wilderness Garden dating back to the 1770’s, the Ornamental Kitchen Garden with its restored 1870’s vine house, and the scenic Mill Pond Walk.

The most recent addition to the gardens at Beaulieu is the beautiful fountain in the Victorian Ornamental Kitchen Garden, intricately designed by  Lord Montagu’s daughter, Mary Montagu-Scott, and Beaulieu’s head gardener, Kelvin Yapp. Water trickles down through bronze sticks and leaves, with bronze birds, butterflies and snails adding an element of fun.

Garden of Surprises, Burghley
The amazing contents of the Garden of Surprises are inspired by one of the gardens of the first Lord of Burghley in the sixteenth century noted for its unusual features, such as obelisks of many materials and a lead pond. The garden gets its name from many of its contents being hidden from the outside, waiting to reveal their surprises to those who enter. 

Features such as the moss house, the swivelling Caesar busts, basins of water, jets and the mirrored maze have been designed to be accessible to all, regardless of age and interest, although they are particularly enjoyable for children or those young at heart who enjoy a paddle on a warm day!  The garden exudes a real sense of fun.

Himalayan Garden, Harewood House
Himalaya, ‘The Abode of Snow’, has immense diversity of flora and the redevelopment of the Rock Garden at Harewood into a Himalayan Garden has aimed to capture this extraordinary world in miniature.  This hidden gem is a plant-hunter’s paradise, with paths leading around a showcase of primulas, orchids, cobra lilies, blue poppies and more than 50 kinds of rhododendron. 

The garden also contains the Harewood Stupa, a Buddhist monument built in 2004 by monks and that is the only one of its kind in the UK.

Sculpture Exhibition : Moore at Hatfield, Hatfield House
Henry Spencer Moore, Englishman, avant-garde, modernist and giant of twentieth-century sculpture.  Moore at Hatfield will show the largest collection of Henry Moore’s Monumental works ever exhibited in the grounds of an English historic house. 

On display in the grounds of Hatfield House this year as part of their 400th anniversary celebrations, the exhibition presents a unique opportunity to explore Moore’s intentions and witness how the ever-changing landscape both inspires and combines with the beauty of his radical ‘new forms’.

Garden Trail, Woburn Abbey
Historic Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire has this year joined the RHS Recommended Gardens scheme with free garden entry to RHS members from 1 Jan–31 Dec. Now is an especially exciting time to visit the gardens as they undergo extensive restoration work.

When the 6th Duke of Bedford inherited Woburn Abbey, he commissioned Humphry Repton to improve the 17ha (42 acre) gardens and park. Some, but not all, of his designs were completed. Last year, to mark the 200th anniversary of Repton’s plans, work began to introduce some of his original ideas into the garden, and 2.4ha (6 acres) of private gardens were opened to the public for the first time.

Explore the garden and watch as it takes shape – information boards along the Garden Trail will help you to find out more about the gardens and future plans for them. You can also download regular podcasts from Gardens Manager Martin Towsey, from the Woburn Abbey website.

The Walled Gardens, Holkham Hall
Started in 2010, an exciting project is underway at Holkham to restore the 6.5 acres of walled garden originally laid out during the late 1700s.  In Victorian times these gardens would have provided a constant and varied supply of food and decoration to the hall, ranging from vegetables and flowers to a wide range of fruits. 

The Cascade and Fountains, Chatsworth House
The water flowing down Chatsworth’s stunning Cascade starts as rain on the moors fed into one of several man-made lakes, the Ring Pond.  After flowing over the Sowter Stone and Aqueduct and through Stand Wood, it enters the Cascade Pond before rushing down the Cascade. As each step of the Cascade is different the sound of the water majestically changes as it falls. 

At the bottom the water enters pipes to feed the other fountains and ponds around the gardens including the impressive Emperor Fountain, which can reach up to 90 metres in height.  Another attractive fountain is the Willow Tree Fountain, designed to create the illusion of rain running from its leaves and branches.

The Rose Gardens, Castle Howard
Set within the 18th century walled garden, the Rose Gardens encompass two adjoining enclosures – Lady Cecilia’s Garden and the Venus Garden.  With their romantic Italianate trellises, hornbeam hedges and backdrop of brick walls, these gardens are a sheltered paradise of colour and intoxicating perfume, where visitors will enjoy a spectacle of massed roses.

In total there are 2000 modern roses of all types, including David Austen’s English roses, making this one of the country’s most comprehensive collections.  Throughout the summer, within each garden and along every alley there is an abundance of colour and fragrance.