Cliveden's pièce de résistance the Parterre

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Since 2010, we've been working to recapture the glory of Cliveden’s pièce de résistance – the Parterre.

When the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland purchased the estate in 1849, they worked with Head Gardener John Fleming to transform a simple lawn into the innovative design you see today.

John Fleming was a pioneer of ribbon and carpet bedding. Under his guidance Cliveden’s garden displays became famous in the horticultural world and set a global precedent for gardens.

An innovative garden design
Encompassing over six acres and including 16 formal beds with box hedging and yew topiary, the Parterre is one of the garden's most dramatic features. It's at the centre of a breathtaking view from the terrace behind the house.

Such is its charm that, for many years, in summer, a tent with open sides was pitched on the terrace. This allowed regular guests to enjoy the view, sketch or – in the case of George Bernard Shaw in the 1920s and 30s – type.

However, with resources reduced in the inter-war years, the Parterre planting was simplified using shrubs - flower colour was restricted to June.

Our colourful revival
Gardeners are replanting the Parterre in the style created by John Fleming.  The bedding displays change twice yearly, ensuring a colourful display from spring to early autumn.

For spring, we plant 12,000 bedding plants such as pansies and primulas, and 10,000 bulbs. Come summer, the central beds are filled with plants like Ghent azaleas and under-planted with gladioli. In the outer beds, rows of red pelargoniums, white alyssum and blue lobelia make a multi-coloured thread. 

Visit us and witness the Parterre as it hasn't been seen for almost 100 years.