Explore Charlecote's gardens this summer
Take a stroll along Charlecote’s herbaceous borders in summer and discover something new in flower every week.
From the colourful formal parterre to the shady tranquillity of the woodland garden, you’ll find old favourites and unusual rarities, colourful annuals and perennials to delight you.
We're doing our best to keep the gardens watered through the current heatwave but lots of flowers are going over very quickly in the heat. However we're really noticing that deep-rooted plants like acanthus and echinacea are coping very well, as are the grey-leaved plants like lavender, caryopteris and nepeta.
The grass will soon recover as soon as we get some rain - there's no need to waste resources watering the lawns.
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'. Like 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.
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.
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.
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..."
Our Orangery tea-room alongside the Cedar Lawn once housed fashionable Victorian ornamental exotics, and the little thatched summerhouse next to the Orangery was restored thanks to the proceeds of raffle tickets bought by our kind visitors in previous years.
Its interior is still too fragile for us to allow entry to visitors, so we usually keep it closed but you can discover more with our article 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.