Explore Charlecote's gardens this summer
Take a stroll along Charlecote’s herbaceous borders in summer and discover something new in flower every week.
This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and does not reflect the current situation. Unfortunately, in order to keep people safe and maintain social distancing the garden at Charlecote is currently closed to visitors.
We look forward to welcoming you back in to the garden when it is safe to do so.
From the colourful formal parterre to the shady tranquillity of the woodland garden, you’ll find old favourites and unusual varieties, colourful annuals and perennials to delight you.
We're planning ahead for hotter, drier summers. Last year we really noticed that deep-rooted plants like acanthus and echinacea coped very well, as did the grey-leaved plants like lavender, caryopteris and nepeta.
Our limited resources mean that in very dry weather we will focus our watering on the young trees in the parkland.
Mary Elizabeth Lucy loved these gardens so dearly in Victorian times that she’d often be at work in the borders by 6am.
Today you’ll find our gardeners – staff and volunteers – at work every day, whatever the weather. They’ll tell you more if you want to chat, or just take a seat and enjoy the results of all their hard work.
In early summer the alliums are a striking feature along the long border and croquet lawn borders – the starry purple ones are Allium christophii and the white balls that our visitors love are Allium ‘Emma’ and 'Mount Everest'. As with many of our plants, we leave the seed heads on when flowering has finished as they add structure to the borders and provide seeds for birds to eat.
Poppies bring sparks of colour - see if you can spot the 'ladybird' poppies in the midsummer borders.
Later in the summer, look for the mulberry trees by the entrance to the woodland garden - you're welcome to try the fruit when it's black like a blackberry but be careful! The fruits are very soft so make sure they don't stain your clothes - they wouldn't transport well which is why they are rarely grown commercially.
We cook with them in the cafe when they are ripe - the mulberry scones always go down well.
Mary Elizabeth’s presence still influences the gardens. Her formal riverside parterre was carefully reinstated twenty years ago and twice a year our gardener and his volunteers skilfully co-ordinate a new design and organise the back-breaking planting of thousands of bedding plants.
This year we have included bright red salvias, cheery yellow osteospermums, and starry blue isotoma (formerly laurentia). The scent of purple heliotrope will waft up to you on a sunny day before you even reach the parterre.
It's worth looking at the beds around the edges of the parterre before you're distracted by the vivid bedding plants - variegated acanthus foliage blends beautifully with astrantia flowers, blue ceratostigma and the pretty foliage of the actinidia climbing up the back wall is easily missed.
Now known as the woodland garden, Mary Elizabeth’s Wilderness flourishes beyond the long border. Her Victorian visitors – like our visitors today - would have been entranced by rare and unusual shade-loving plants and ferns in this tranquil haven.
The Victorian craze for ferns was called "pteridomania" and it's worth taking time to discover the different species of our fern collection and their varied forms.
" Went on a stroll around the green and wilderness, my dear birds were rejoicing... and were joined by the thrushes and blackbirds..."
The little thatched summerhouse next to the Orangery is too fragile for us to allow entry to visitors,
However, many visitors ask about the origins of this delightful little building (which Mary Elizabeth had built as a playhouse for her grandchildren) so our volunteer photographer takes a look inside here.
You can see how the Lucy family influence still prevails in the gardens today with the topiary in Green Court. The present baronet, Sir Edmund Fairfax-Lucy created the formal design based on 3-dimensional mathematical relationships between the house, the gatehouse and this lawned forecourt.
Bugs, bees and butterflies abound in the gardens. We have a team of volunteers who count and monitor the butterflies throughout the summer. And don’t forget to look out for our friendly robins, happy to hop about close to visitors’ feet.