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Beningbrough Hall prepare their gardens for the future

Beningbrough Hall prepare their gardens for the future

In Gardens

by Sam Shipman, Head Gardener at Beningbrough Hall

The week of the RHS Flower Show at Chelsea in May always creates a buzz around the garden, even if you’re more than 200 miles away. It has a bit more resonance for the gardens at Beningbrough when the designer of our long-term vision, Andy Sturgeon, is showing at Chelsea.

Andy was appointed in 2016 to mark the 300th anniversary of the current hall and is working with the National Trust garden and conservation teams to develop a plan to refresh, improve and in some areas re-invent the eight-acre garden.

One year on from the first of the new garden installations, the Pergola is a great example of Andy’s design capabilities. The planting here blends from simple white blankets of Gallium to pockets of deep purple Iris ‘Sable’ and Aquilegia’ chrysantha ‘Yellow queen’.

These sit underneath oak beams with white Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba’ that will slowly wind their way to create shady pockets to sit a moment and soak in the south facing aspect. Of course, we were thrilled for the Andy Sturgeon Design team and all those involved with his garden to win their eighth gold medal and third best in show.

Prior to the creation of the Pergola, the first impact from the designs could be seen in 2017 following visitors helping us to plant 300,000 spring bulbs to mark the tercentenary and in doing so create the ha-ha walk. This is a quieter area of the garden with expansive views over the parkland and now has a real identity with swathes of snowdrops to mark the start of a new year, blending into crocus and daffodils.

At the moment I’m busy planning for the next phase which is the creation of largest new garden to date: The Mediterranean Garden. In the plans, Andy said “this area has the most interesting potential for a new planting scheme and character” and considering much of the space is currently lawn – the artist impressions really help to bring his vision to life. 

Alongside the walls, the other historical evidence known from this area is the past existence of a fountain and ornamental pond. With that in mind, the design incorporates a new water feature and an accessible path network threading though the planting to new areas to sit a while.

Currently I’m interviewing contractors for the hard-landscaping aspects of the development and the garden team are growing any of the plants we can in-house; others are being sourced from peat-free nurseries. We intend to start most of the work from November to gradually remove the current planting and prepare the ground.

From late April 2020 the hard landscapers will start the construction phase and planting begins in earnest as soon as we can. This is my favourite part of any development, when you can start to see the effects of all the planning and preparation; and a series of walls and paths begin to look like a garden. The inspiration for the planting, as the name might suggest, is to complement the Italian inspired baroque hall. Expect to see Pinus mugo ‘Mops’, Santolina chamaecyparissus ‘Small-ness’, Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’ and Salvia sclarea to name a few.

But do not worry, whilst this work is happening, you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the gardens, each with their own individual characters with highlights including the double border in early summer and the walled garden in autumn.

The garden team are more than happy to chat through what’s going on so don’t hesitate to ask any questions when you see us on a visit.

You can keep up to date with the garden developments here.

images courtesy of Andy Sturgeon Designs, National Trust & Jo Parker

Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens
Historic House / Palace
Beningbrough Hall in winter


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