Day 1 - Derbyshire
We started our first day with a tour of the garden of the Dower House, Melbourne, Derbyshire by the owner, Griselda Kerr, an EBTS member and the author of The Apprehensive Gardener, published in May 2019. Her garden takes advantage of its sloping site by means of hidden paths passing through a copious variety of herbaceous borders, shrubs and trees to the lake below, with topiary and formal hedging cleverly providing punctuation.
Next after a short walk to the Melbourne Hall Tea Rooms for lunch visited the historic gardens of Melbourne Hall, the family home of the Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr. Here there were formal gardens laid out in the early 18th century, with avenues, a parterre, and a yew tunnel, in the manner of Le Notre. Twenty of the decorative features in the grounds are Grade I listed and include the ‘Vase of the Seasons’ said to be one of the finest Baroque lead sculptures in an English garden.
Before dinner, we spent a couple of hours with the owner of Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery, Robert Vernon, who gave us the most informative tour of the arboretum. It is one of the leading suppliers of rare woody plants in the UK and covers nine acres, which surrounds the nursery. It is on the RHS’s list of recommended gardens to visit and we concur!
Thanks to EBTS member Christopher Redston for his brilliant photographs of the two day visit.
The Dower House, Melboure, Derbyshire
Melboure Hall, Derbyshire
Bluebell Arboretum, Smisby, South Derbyshire
Day 2 - Nottinghamshire
The second day starts with a visit to Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, the ancestral home of Lord Byron. Ash Davison, gardener there and EBTS member, took us on a tour of the gardens, which include a formal garden, where he showed us the brilliant work he’s been doing for the last five years to restore the parterres and shaped trees. Much of the garden was landscaped by the fourth Lord Byron in the early 18th century but fell into ruin during the time of the spendthrift fifth baron when even trees were sold to pay debts. Only relatively recently has its current owner, the Nottingham City Council, paid particular attention to the historic gardens.
After lunch the day concluded with a visit to the amazing Felley Priory, Underwood, Nottinghamshire. Felley was founded in the twelfth century but its garden was created by Major and the late Mrs Chaworth-Musters in 1976. Topiary formed the original framework from which the garden was established. Fantastical and formal shapes emerged from the formal hedging, complemented by topiary swans, castles and peacocks. All provided a wonderful setting for the priory, built of warm, red brick.