The Garden at Wollerton Old Hall

Three weeks ago, I traveled home from England with a million and one ideas swirling through my head and an eagerness to tell everyone, or at least those who read this blog, about the remarkable gardens I had visited. Life intervened, however, and after I attended to work, family, garden, and the new porch, exhaustion set in and the idea of sitting at the computer trying to articulate even a single thought was overwhelming.

Happily, after a much need week of R & R, the brain fog has begun to lift and my enthusiasm for blogging has returned. So here, finally, is an effort to share my impressions of one of the most pleasurable gardens visited—Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire.

The word “pleasurable” is not used lightly; the garden provides both satisfaction and surprise through artful use of color, familiar elements invigorated with fresh perspective, and the highest standard of horticulture, all within carefully arranged and varied spaces that evoke gardens near and far.

The Old Hall comprises a half-timbered wing from the mid 1500s and a more recent addition.

The Old Hall comprises a half-timbered wing from the mid 1500s and a more recent addition.

The Hall itself, including the surviving wing of a sixteenth century home, gives a timeless feeling to an essentially Arts and Crafts style garden—enclosed geometric spaces formed by walls and evergreens such as yew, contrasted with a naturalistic “wild garden” at its far reaches.

The garden’s website provides an interactive map which highlights each space, but here are a few areas I particularly enjoyed.

Lower Rill Garden

Lower Rill Garden

The Rill Garden joins upper and lower spaces which have individual character but merge into a long view that gives a greater sense of spaciousness.  The Lower Garden brings Lutyens to mind, with its narrow Hestercombe-like rill emptying into a small pond with stone surround and mixed plantings, similar to the Sunk Garden at Great Dixter.

Upper Rill Garden

Upper Rill Garden

Steps away in the Upper Rill, however, the linear arrangement of hydrangea-filled terracotta pots flanked by fastigiated hornbeam and box balls in a gravel court, combined with a larger pool reflecting sky and garden, evokes a Mediterranean garden.

Font Garden

Font Garden

The Font Garden, too, with its cloistered loggia, could easy be mistaken for an ancient Italian or French landscape.  Massive box balls give the space a modern twist, but the garden’s sweet repose made it a favorite of visitors who took a moment to soak in its ambience.

At the heart of the garden, the loggia with its cobbled floor offers a quiet retreat.

At the heart of the garden, the loggia with its cobbled floor offers a quiet retreat.

I also found the Yew Walk to be particularly striking and spent a good deal of time photographing the towering pyramids in the changing light, which were even more dramatic when the sun popped from behind clouds.  Between the evergreens, bays of perennials softened the otherwise angular arrangement and led the eye towards the arched door of the Courtyard Garden.

Yew Walk

Yew Walk

The eye-catching gate into the Courtyard Garden was made on the Isle of Wight.

The eye-catching gate into the Courtyard Garden was made on the Isle of Wight.

Though my preference is typically for formal and restrained gardens such as these, the gardens at Wollerton Old Hall are perennial driven and the spaces given over to these blooming plants are simply amazing.

The Main Perennial Border, stunning even in early season.

The Main Perennial Border, stunning even in early season.

The drier Lanhydrock Garden, inspired by the red border at another spectacular  private garden and one I hope to see again next year--Bosvigo House in Truro.

The drier Lanhydrock Garden, inspired by the red border at another spectacular private garden and one I hope to see again next year–Bosvigo House in Truro.

The Sundial Garden excludes hot colors and offers softer hues.

The Sundial Garden excludes hot colors and offers softer hues.

Kudos to Leslie and John Jenkins, who arrived in 1983 and have worked assiduously to bring the 4-acre garden to perfection, and to Head Gardener Andrew Humphris, who came to Wollerton via Biddulph Grange.  There’s much more to see than can be highlighted here, of course, but the garden’s art, drama, and barely controlled exuberance can, I hope, be found in every photograph.

The Croft Garden and Croft, beautiful in their own right, also serve as a shelter belt.

The Croft Garden and Croft, beautiful in their own right, also serve as a shelter belt.

My decisive test for a garden is if I would want to see it again, especially in another season, and the answer in this case is yes, yes, and yes.  What a continual joy this garden must be for those who can partake throughout the year.  Fingers crossed I’ll get to visit again too.

 

 

 

 

 

35 thoughts on “The Garden at Wollerton Old Hall

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Jessica–There is another garden very close by I wish I had also put on the itinerary, the Dorothy Clive Garden. When you make the trip, be sure to see it too.

      Reply
  1. jane hincemon

    Love everything about this lovely garden…Again thanks so much for sharing these gardens with us!

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Jane–Yes! What’s not to love in this garden?!! I had hoped to see it at it’s peak, but a late spring had delayed the perennials. It didn’t matter, though, I can’t image it more perfect than the day we visited.

      Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Bill–I had a recommendation to see this garden, but it was the website that convinced me to add it to the tour itinerary. It was a bit further south than I first intended to travel, but was well worth the extra effort. Many of the group thought it was the best garden and I can’t disagree, though must say it was in very good company as most were extraordinary. Re: garden selection, I can’t imagine a better tour.

      Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Chloris–The new camera is giving me fits, actually. It has multiple focus points which makes the overall focus a bit softer, so everything looks a bit fuzzy to me. I need to sit down with a professional who can provide some pointers.

      Reply
      1. susurrus

        It’s hard not to be critical of your own photography (I’m just the same) but don’t be too hard on yourself. I’ve been impressed how much your new camera has changed your photography – you’re sharing some wonderful images.

  2. Sandra Smith

    As always, your wonderful photos and descriptions are delightful and make me wish even more that I could have done this trip with you. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Matt–With your design sense and love of plants, you would really enjoy this garden. See my note to Jessica (above) about a nearby place you should add to your list.

      Reply
  3. Julie @ Southern Wild Design

    You must be on garden overload after this trip and the Fling back to back! I am just now wanting to really dig through my Fling pictures. You must know that I love these perennial beds, but the yew walk looks like it would have been fun to photograph. Great pics! ~Julie

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Julie–Well, I would go see another today if I had half a chance, but I’m definately on travel overload. I woke up last night and couldn’t remember where I was:-)

      Reply
  4. Christina

    I love the combination of formal and exuberant; the rich green of all the foliage does my eyes good as I shade them here from the burning sun. I often think that English garden ‘do’ Mediterranean better than in the real Mediterranean because the light is better for the evergreens.

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Christina–You are right, England has a wonderful climate for gardening, but the trade off is we have much nicer winters. You hit the nail on the head, too, regarding the combo of formal and exuberant. Many home gardens in the US are not as successful as they could be because gardeners don’t create a frame for their flowering plants.

      Reply
  5. digwithdorris

    Oh my, I have not seen Woollerton Hall garden and I am putting it on my list, it looks wonderful. No wonder you want to go back. Your photos are great. One typo? Giddulph or Biddulph grange?

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      You are right–Biddulph. More proof you can’t be your own editor. Amazing, really, that I can read it 10 times and not see the mistakes! Thanks for letting me know so I could fix:-)

      Reply
  6. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Susie–The design is among the best I’ve seen, but it’s a plant lover’s garden too. Something for everyone! I’d be willing to get lost there for a day or two;-)

    Reply
  7. An Eye For Detail

    Oh Marian, how beautiful and lush and green. We have just returned from 10 days in Vermont where it, too, was so green and lovely. Such a change from our climate down here!
    Your entire garden tour sounded so wonderful and now I am going to have to keep this in mind for next year! Very tempting indeed. Thank you for the many beautiful images!

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Libby–the June itinerary was perfect in every way; you definately want to see this garden, but I would also recommend as many of the others as you can fit in. The link with details is still up on the “Tours” page.

      Reply
  8. gardeninacity

    So much to love here and so much variety. The Lower Rill Garden, the gate to the Courtyard Garden, and the main Perennial Border are my favorites, but the whole garden looks fabulous.

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Jason–One more reason for you and Judy to take another trip to England. I really loved this area and would definately recommend the Midlands and York areas for visit.

      Reply
  9. susurrus

    We must have seen Wollerton at least a week after you, looking at the borders. We’d have loved to try to meet up, but had some friends over, so were in the south. We visited when the roses were in flower, but you got by far the better day: I feel as if I’m seeing more of the garden through your photos than when we were there in real life! It rained so hard, we were soon drenched to the skin, so we abandoned our visit and raced back to the car park.

    I’m glad your trip was as wonderful in real life as it seemed to be on paper and am really looking forward to seeing your pictures of some of the other gardens over the next few months.

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Susan–Thanks for your remarks. The tour intinerary was simply wonderful. And we were so lucky with the weather! The sleeper was Harewood. The house, with its Adams and Chippendale interiors, was the most beautiful I have ever seen and the view of the Capability Brown landscape from the Terrace Garden is a lesson in why he is so well remembered. I’ll be in the Cotswolds in early September, maybe we can catch up then.

      Reply
  10. Julie

    I am so glad to gone back into your old posts. This is a garden I was unaware of. Its so beautiful and your photographs are wonderful. I hope we can visit, where else did you enjoy?

    Reply

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