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Monday, July 6, 2009


Gresgarth hall is the home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who is a nationally acclaimed English landscape and garden designer. She and her husband Mark purchased the property in 1978 and over the years have made many changes to the gardens. The property lies near the village of Caton, in Lancashire, on a tributary of the Lune called Artle Beck. 12 acres are now under cultivation. The house takes its name from the Norse Gresgarth meaning "Boar Yard" and a copy of the Calydonian boar, found in the Uffizi museum in Florence, takes center stage on the lawn at the front of the house.
The gardens are only open one Sunday a month during the season and as luck would have it we were there for the June 7th open day. This particular day was in aid of the Conservative party so I wasn't surprised to find rather a different crowd from the usual garden visitors. This turned out to be rather a good thing as most people seemed quite happy to hob nob on the lawn or at the tea tables leaving most of the garden spaces quiet.
My photographs don't quite capture the splendid terraces we encountered as we walked round the back of the house. Roses were everywhere, in full bloom, and scaling the walls of the house.

Intimate seating areas filled with catmint, lavender and roses.

The beck encircles the house and can be crossed by the Chinese bridge festooned with clematis. Someone has made good use of willow branches to create a unique seating area around this tree.
This year I was introduced to the handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, which is putting on a spectacular performance in England this year due to a cool spell at the start of the year and a very wet spring. We saw it blooming in many gardens.

Looking back towards the house across the lake. 

Every great house has a walled kitchen garden and this one is probably the best I have ever seen.
Through the kitchen garden gate.

I love the wattle fencing used to contain the beds. Usually made used young willow branches but other sapling branches can be used as long as they are supple.

A row of forcing jars. I wonder what was growing underneath them.

Pathways were of a generous size.

I had to put in this foxglove. I have only once had success in my own garden and that was when I purchased the plants in the nursery in the spring. despite having grown from seed and over wintered this biennial, with healthy leaves, they just never flowered.

The pebble pathways were exquisite. I have never seen such fine work. They add such interest to any garden.

Ah! The greenness of it all. The herbaceous border, a must in any English garden. You can just see the pleached limes in the background. Did I expect my garden to be so green when I got back to Texas? In my dreams.
This garden is an absolute must when visiting the north of England. I will be keeping my eye on the open days and will plan my trips accordingly.


  1. Wow! Love this garden. I too have tried willow wattles this winter and plan to do some more - they're surprisingly effective at containing soil in the beds. Thanks for this, will keep an eye out for future open days.

  2. Thank you, thank you for this fantastic virtual tour! I especially like those branches around the veggie gardens. And lavender always fascinates me, because here in Austin, it seems to thrive on sun and little water. But then I see it in more temperate places around the world. I guess they're all different cultivars (is that the right word?)?

  3. This house and garden are what dreams are made of. I can't imagine how long it took to put together that exquisite sidewalk.

  4. What great pictures. I think I went there years ago as I remember that great tree seat and pavement. What a fantastic garden.

  5. Oh, my. Those grand English gardens are just wonderful. Thank you for the tour.

  6. Thanks for sharing your tour. What a lovely place. Hard to come back to our parched area from there.

  7. Could there be a more beautiful garden than that? I'm not sure. Those walkways were unbelievable. I bet you could hardly resist looking under the lids on those forcing jars. What are pleached limes?

  8. Hi RR.
    Yet another place to put on my hit-list for the next trip home to blighty. It is a bonus that all of these are in the North! This place is amazing, very classic. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the ornate pathways - I have never seen anything like this, imagine how much time must have gone into the creation of them! I also liked the climbing wisteria.
    Absolutely stunning place, thanks for showing us around these magical English gems.

  9. Thanks, as always, for your wonderful pictures and comments, Jenny. How I'd love to visit such beautiful English gardens! What a welcome relief from our parched and hot days here in Austin. While in CA a few weeks ago, I visited a beautiful garden in Monterey. Love the air-conditioned outdoors!

  10. I can't decide whether to sink into this vision of cool, green garden loveliness or to turn away from it so as not to compare our own brutal conditions to it. That pebble pathway is amazing, BTW.

  11. Thank you everyone for visiting Gresgarth with me. I always find a new idea when visiting gardens and I think I would love to try the edging- if I could just find some supple saplings. Maybe some of those water sprouts which appear on the vitex and pomegranate.

  12. This place is beautiful!

    I also like the idea of "willow wattles", they remind me of pretty garden baskets.

    And your photos make us feel like we are on the trip with you. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks, Jenny. I've known about her garden for years and have seen few pictures of it in the past. But your visual tour was a delight.

  14. The fantastic pebble mosaics are designed by Maggy Howarth and built in her Cobblestones Design studio.


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