Tag Archive: repton

First Rhododendron of the year, seen at Repton’s Sheringham Park, yesterday.WP_20150308_15_21_00_ProOld School Gardener

IMG_7088I frequently visit this wonderful Jacobean Mansion and more particularly it’s gardens and parkland. After all it is just 7 miles from home. A  walk around the park after a Christmas Day ‘brunch’ has become something of a family institution, often complete with festive headwear!

I try to visit the gardens at different times of the year as they offer something for every season, and back in September I was keen to experience the late summer colour festival of its herbaceous and other plantings. At this time of year it’s mix of formal and informal styles is most evident.

Coincidentally, there was a splendid event going on to celebrate the role of the Hall in the Second World War, including people dressed in military uniforms and plenty of vehicles and ‘kit’ from the time. This is my photo record of my most recent visit along with a very good summary of the gardens’ history and features from Wikipedia:

‘A house and garden existed at Blickling before the estate was purchased by the Boleyn family in the 1450s, but no records survive to give an indication of their appearance. After Sir Henry Hobart acquired the estate in 1616, he remodelled the gardens to include ponds, wilderness and a parterre. A garden mount– an artificial hill in Blickling’s flat landscape, was made to provide views of the new garden. With the accession of Sir John Hobart (later the 1st Earl of Buckingham) in 1698 the garden was expanded to add a new wilderness and the temple was constructed.

In the latter half of the 18th century John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckingham, embarked on works that would radically change the appearance of the gardens. All traces of formality were removed, and naturally arranged clumps of trees were planted to create a landscape garden. By the 1780s an orangery had been built to overwinter tender citrus trees. Following the 2nd Earl’s death in 1793, his youngest daughter Caroline, Lady Suffield, employed landscape gardener Humphry Repton and his son John Adey Repton to advise on garden matters. John Adey Repton would go on to provide designs for many garden features.


The estate was inherited by nine-year-old William Schomberg Robert Kerr, 8th Marquess of Lothian in 1840. He later re-introduced the formality and colour schemes of the parterre. After his death at the age of 38, responsibility for the gardens rested with Lady Lothian and her head gardener Mr Lyon. Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian, inherited the estate in 1930. After disparaging comments in a publication of Country Life, Lothian engaged socialite gardener Norah Lindsay to remodel the gardens. In the parterre she replaced the jumble of minuscule flower beds with four large square beds planted with a mixture of herbaceous plants in graduated and harmonious colours. Other improvements included removal of a line of conifers in the Temple walk, which were replaced with plantings of azaleas.

The garden today

The garden at Blickling covers 55 acres (22 ha) and contains formal and informal gardens, Grade II listed buildings and structures, woodland, specimen trees, Victorian garden ornaments, topiary, the kitchen garden .. and 18th century yew hedges.

The lawns which frame the main approach to the hall are bounded by yew hedges which were first recorded by William Freeman of Hamels in 1745. Surrounding the hall on three sides is the dry Moat. The plantings in the moist, sheltered conditions of the moat were considerably revised by Lindsay who introduced hosta, species of hydrangea, buddleja and rosemary.

To the rear of the hall is the noted Parterre garden which is located on the east lawn. Originally created as a Victorian sunken garden it was remodelled by Lindsay in the early 1930s. Set around an 18th-century listed stone fountain, she divided the garden into four large, colourful herbaceous beds surrounded by L shaped borders stocked with roses and catmint with an acorn shaped yew marking each corner.


In the terraces above the parterre there are plantings of peony, seasonal beds and the Double Borders created in 2006, contain a wide variety of perennials, shrubs and grasses with colours ranging from hot to cool. Close by, are the White and Black Borders which were established in 2009, together with a collection of eleagnus.

The western side of the garden features the lawned Acre which is fringed by a spreading oriental plane tree. Outdoor sports such as croquet are played here in the summer months. Further highlights are a collection of magnolia underplanted with autumn cyclamen, the shell fountain and the kitchen garden. To the north of the parterre is the Wilderness garden which is bisected by radial grassed avenues flanked with turkey oak, lime and beech trees and naturalised bulbs. The wilderness hides a Secret Garden with a summerhouse, scented plants and a central sundial.

Nearby is the listed 18th century orangery which houses a collection of citrus trees. Adjacent, to the building is the steep sided Dell which is home to many woodland plants including a selection of hellebore and foxglove. In 2009, an area of woodland was cleared close to the orangery to create a new garden. Stocked with a wide range of woodland plants including camellia and varieties of mahonia. Opened in 2010, it will be known as the Orangery Garden.

The Grade II listed Temple is approached by the Temple walk which is lined with azalea planted by Lindsay in her original 1930s design. Scattered throughout the garden are many garden ornaments including thirty pieces supplied to Lady Lothian in 1877 by Austin & Seeley of Euston Road, London.

Future projects include the creation of a philadelphus and rose garden. Both of which will be located in the Wilderness and open to the public in the near future .’ (Note – these have now been established and are open to the public- see pics below).

Further information:

National Trust Website


Old School Gardener

The Garden- man made artifice?
The Garden- man made artifice?

‘Let us, then, begin by defining what a garden is, and what it ought to be. It is a piece of ground fenced off from cattle, and appropriated to the use and pleasure of man: it is or ought to be, cultivated and enriched by art, with such products as are not natural to this country, and consequently, it must be artificial in its treatment, and may, without impropriety, be so in its appearance; yet, there is so much of littleness in art, when compared with nature, that they cannot be well blended; it were, therefore, to be wished, that the exterior of a garden should be made to assimilate with park scenery, of the landscape of nature; the interior may then be laid out with all the variety, contrast, and even whim, that can produce pleasing objects to the eye.’

Humphry Repton- ‘Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening’, 1803

Hmmm. what do you think? Repton’s advice about blending the edges of a garden with it’s surrounding landscape has become a tenet of garden design, but what about his words on making the garden itself a clearly ‘man made’ feature? Is the phrase ‘natural garden’ a contradiction in terms?

Old School Gardener

IMG_5527We had a very enjoyable walk around one of our local ‘haunts’ on Sunday – Sheringham Park, in north Norfolk. I think we can honestly say that we’ve visited this beautiful landscape in all weathers – I recall the children sledging down some of the steep slopes in the snow and also the time we took some visiting friends there in the pouring rain!  Fortunately the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky on this latest visit.

The Park surrounds Sheringham Hall (privately occupied), but Sheringham Park is in the care of the National Trust and is open for visitors. The Park was designed by the famous Landscape Gardener, Humphry Repton, who presented his proposals in July 1812 in the form of one of his ‘Red Books’ – he showed ‘before and after’ fold – out images to illustrate the differences his design proposals would make. He described Sheringham as his ‘favourite child in Norfolk’ and he is buried in Aylsham Church, about 15 miles to the south. At the time he was in his later years and his star was on the wane, but this Park is described by some as his most successful landscape design. Abbot and Charlotte Upcher bought the Estate in 1811, and successive generations of the Upcher family did much to develop it, as well as the Hall and the park, and also built a school.

The landscape has been moulded to make the most of the natural hills and vales (formed by glacial gravels). Many of the trees are now of a very mature age and there is some evidence of felling or ‘natural topple over’ as they near the end of their normal lifespans. The Trust has done much new planting and maintains the ‘wilderness’ feel of some areas, along with mature woodland with glades and pools, surrounding heathlands (with interesting views towards the restored North Norfolk Railway, the coast and North Sea), plus all the elements of the romantic landscape around the House and its setting.

The woodlands also contain a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas. In the early 20th century Henry Morris Upcher obtained rhododendron seeds of various types from plantsman ‘Chinese’ Wilson. Many other species of tree and shrub are represented in the park, including fifteen kinds of magnolia, maples, acers,styrax, Eucryphia, Davidia involucrata and a fine example of the ‘Snowdrop Tree’,  Halesia. Several outlook towers and viewpoints provide good views over the park and of the nearby coast and surrounding countryside. Recently a new ‘Bower Garden’ has been created which provides a wonderful den building area, enclosed seating area and widllife pond which had many tadpoles, pond skaters and the like on our visit.

If you visit you’ll also have the benefit of an interesting exhibition about Repton and the development of the estate, a number of marked walks plus all the usual National Trust attractions – I particularly enjoyed some Stem Ginger Ice Cream!

Old School Gardener

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