This is a fascinating and unique garden, both for what it is now and for its future potential. It was once very overgrown and dark, but now it is an area of allure and mystery with many varied paths criss-crossing.
The primary features are the rocks themselves, goodness knows how heavy some of them are! Many are like icebergs, whatever is visible above ground there is plenty more hidden below soil level. Look out for the chisselled holes that can be seen on several of the larger examples. These were to give purchase when lifting them from the river and then positioning them.
Key features in the middle of the garden are a waterfall and a lovely old stone bridge, which is in fact an aqueduct (originally built to carry water piped from a huge tower above the house 400 yards away). The waterfall fell into disuse during the Second World War and was restored by pumping water from the river to the top of the aqueduct in 1980.
To support the rock features we have begun introducing unusual plants in niches to give a ‘wow, what is that’ reaction. Much of the garden has quite a ‘woodsy’ feel to it, rather than a more typical open free draining rock garden in full sun. Plants such as Arisaema, Trillium & Podophyllum thrive here.
Over the last couple of years Ken Briggs (one of our volunteers) has kindly taken on the research into the Rock Garden’s history. It has been fascinating and we have learnt so much. Some things we knew have been confirmed, others dispelled. Suffice to say we know now it was started just before the First World War with completion coming in 1914 as many of the Estate workers headed off to France.
Ellen Willmott, a great friend of the family, was integral in its conception and construction.
We are now ready for the next phase of introducing new and exciting plants. What is imperative during this process is that we maintain the feel of the Rock Garden and outwardly change very little.