Gar­den to visit

With his­toric trees, a win­ter walk and listed walled gar­den, this mag­nif­i­cent es­tate has plenty of year-round in­ter­est

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

With its his­toric trees, win­ter walk and listed walled gar­den, Walling­ton is a gem

Walling­ton is a gar­den steeped in his­tory that has some­thing to of­fer what­ever the time of year. Sul­phur-yel­low catkins brighten the gar­den above a car­pet of spring bulbs; colour-themed herba­ceous bor­ders are packed with flow­ers for sum­mer; fiery ac­ers bring the gar­den to life in au­tumn; and the faded flow­ers of hy­drangeas form win­try skele­tons dusted with frost. Set among the moor­land, woods and tum­bling streams of the rugged Northum­brian land­scape, the Walling­ton es­tate is dom­i­nated by a mag­nif­i­cent man­sion. The build­ing was home to two fam­i­lies – the Black­etts and the Trevelyans – for more than 300 years be­fore it was gifted to the Na­tional Trust by Sir Charles Trevelyan in 1941 along with the wider es­tate and farms, the first do­na­tion of its kind to the Trust. Sir Wal­ter Calver­ley Black­ett had the grounds land­scaped in the 18th cen­tury, fol­low­ing the style Lancelot ‘Ca­pa­bil­ity’ Brown, who grew up just a cou­ple of miles away and at­tended a school on the es­tate. There’s lit­tle ev­i­dence of Brown be­ing in­volved with the over­all de­sign at Walling­ton, though he did work on the plans for the West Wood plea­sure grounds. The Pal­la­dian bridge (de­signed by James Paine, who worked with Brown) and the Owl House (a bothy in the walled gar­den) are very sim­i­lar to those Brown de­signed else­where. Back then, the West Wood plea­sure grounds of­fered a for­mal place to stroll among trees and wa­ter fea­tures. To­day the area has a wilder feel – keep your eyes peeled for red squir­rels scam­per­ing among the trees!

On the other side of the house, the East Wood was planted for year-round in­ter­est. Sub­se­quent own­ers, the Trevelyans, added to the plant­ing in the 19th cen­tury with newly dis­cov­ered spec­i­men trees such as the Western red cedar and nootka cy­press from North Amer­ica. In 1891 Sir Ge­orge Otto Trevelyan started The Walling­ton Book of Trees in which he recorded the plant­ing dates, girth, height and po­si­tion of more than 300 trees. His daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter sub­se­quently kept up the project, thus cre­at­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing record of these his­toric cham­pion trees.

Walled gar­den

Fol­low paths through the East Wood and you’ll even­tu­ally come to the hid­den gem of Walling­ton: its Grade II-listed walled gar­den. En­ter through a gate, presided over by a statue of the Ro­man god Nep­tune, and you’ll dis­cover a fab­u­lous kitchen gar­den with an Ital­ianate in­flu­ence. Built in 1760 as a pro­duc­tive space to pro­vide year-round veg for the Walling­ton kitchens, or­na­men­tal el­e­ments such as the Owl House sug­gest the gar­den was de­signed to im­press vis­i­tors too. It’s an un­usual walled gar­den – L-shaped and cut into the hill­side, it fol­lows the con­tours of the land and con­tains an el­e­gant curv­ing stone stair­case (top left), which em­braces the Mary Pool, named af­ter Lady Mary Trevelyan. Sir Ge­orge de­vel­oped the walled gar­den in the late 19th and early 20th cen­turies. He gave it an Ital­ianate feel with im­ported urns and stat­u­ary, and a fab­u­lous Ed­war­dian con­ser­va­tory built by MacKen­zie and Moncur – one of the most pres­ti­gious glasshouse man­u­fac­tur­ers of the time. The con­ser­va­tory is packed with ten­der bougainvil­leas and fuch­sias. He­liotrope and fra­grant le­mon ver­bena im­part a de­li­cious heady fra­grance to the warm, hu­mid air, while Ti­bouch­ina urvil­leana and abu­tilons put on a colour­ful dis­play even in win­ter.

It’s an un­usual walled gar­den ...cut into the hill­side with a curv­ing stone stair­case

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