‘The gardens at Haddon Hall have long been famous as one of the earliest Renaissance Italianate gardens in England. The stone framework of incredible Elizabethan terrace walls, staircases, balustrading and edging, remarkably all still intact, cleverly create a series of level garden areas, on the steep side of a limestone bluff. These elegant terraces are now known to have been designed at the same time as the Long Gallery by the architect Robert Smythson, who conceived a garden which was as beautiful when viewed from the inside, as it was when you experienced it on the ground. Within this framework, generations of the Manner’s family have gardened with great flair, and the garden became very particularly associated with wonderful roses. In 2008, when Lord Edward first asked me to look at developing the gardens, they retained all this beauty, but over years of different garden fashions, they had rather lost the sense of the cohesive vision which is so confidently apparent in the original structure.
In an on-going process of development of the gardens, our aim is not to slavishly recreate something Elizabethan, but to recapture the spirit of the Hall, with its wonderful mix of history and palpable sense of romance. On the fountain terrace roses and mixed herbaceous create full and romantic borders against the terrace walls; whilst wildflower meadows embroidered with martagon lilies and orchids, and rare species tulips, create a soft transition into the landscape beyond. Added into this band a playful mix of native hornbeam and beech topiary compliment the organic nature in which the hall was built over the centuries. On the terrace above this, the Bowling Lawn is flanked by the original yew topiary and becomes the back drop for a more formal knot garden containing plants which date from before the 1700’s. Against the Upper Terrace wall is a border of plants which can be used to make natural dyes, such as those which were used to dye the silk threads that are woven into tapestries within the hall. There are many more threads to weave within this garden at Haddon Hall; orchards and formally trained fruit, strewing herbs and perhaps a potager.’