It was a lovely day at Holehird Gardens, today – the plants and scenery were out of this world. Hole Hird is a mansion near Winderemere, designed by the Manchester gothic architect, Joseph Stretch Crowther (1820-1903). Complementing the house is a terraced lower garden with an elevated walk that curves with the landscape, a gothic stairway, fountain and pond all with views to the Lake District mountains.
The modern gardens were created by Lakeland Horticultural Society in the last 40 years. They extend much further uphill, embracing the old walled kitchen garden on their way. They are maintained solely by around 80 volunteer gardeners and it was fascinating to learn how all this was organised. Many volunteers were around on our visit, happily beavering away while saying ‘hello’ and answering our questions as we passed.
Our guide was Ian Fraser, a volunteer gardener, who enthusistically showed us around the gardens and plant collections and explained how things worked behind the scenes.
Holehird is different to many ‘heritage’ gardens in that it has a strong contemporary feel, though without being exotic or unusual in design. It is the combined effort of a lot of excellent gardeners and ‘plantsmiths’ rather than the mind of a single garden designer.
It was a fascinating tour and afterwards we roamed the gardens in the beautiful afternoon sunshine. I especially liked the specimen trees and the national collections of Astilbe and Polystichum. A lot of care is given around the edges of the garden, such as near the car park and drive. The Walled Garden is neverless the centrepiece and it was outstanding. Here are photographs of the various parts of the garden. Just click to enlarge.