Explore Charlecote's gardens this summer

Long border perennials in Charlecote Park garden in late 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 varieties, colourful annuals and perennials to delight you.

Hardy shrub Clerodendrum bungei is loved by bees and butterflies
Clerodendrum bungei in garden in summer at Charlecote Park
Hardy shrub Clerodendrum bungei is loved by bees and butterflies

Summer stalwarts

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.

Cheery yellow heliopsis lasts until the end of autumn in the long border
Cheery yellow heliopsis lasts until the end of autumn in Charlecote Park's gardens
Cheery yellow heliopsis lasts until the end of autumn in the long border

Beautiful borders

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.

Weeding is a daily job for our staff and volunteers - stop and chat if there's anything you'd like to know
Volunteer weeding garden border in summer at Charlecote Park
Weeding is a daily job for our staff and volunteers - stop and chat if there's anything you'd like to know

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.

Take a closer look at Abelia grandiflora as you pass through the gates in Green Court
Abelia grandiflora is one of the star plants at Charlecote as autumn goes into winter
Take a closer look at Abelia grandiflora as you pass through the gates in Green Court

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.

The mulberry fruits are really squishy - be careful!
Mulberry fruit tree in garden at Charlecote
The mulberry fruits are really squishy - be careful!

Victorian influences

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.

Look out for long-lasting astrantia in shades of pink in the borders
Look out for long-lasting astrantia in the summer borders at Charlecote Park
Look out for long-lasting astrantia in shades of pink in the borders

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.

Shady informality

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.

Enjoy colourful borders and a little inspiration for your own garden
Croquet lawn garden border in summer at Charlecote
Enjoy colourful borders and a little inspiration for your own garden
" Went on a stroll around the green and wilderness, my dear birds were rejoicing... and were joined by the thrushes and blackbirds..."
- Mary Elizabeth Lucy's diary, 1887

Former playhouse

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.

Modern formality

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.

Creating the best possible environment for our wildlife is an important part of our work
Meadow brown butterfly on eryngium in gardens at Charlecote Park
Creating the best possible environment for our wildlife is an important part of our work

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.

Late-flowering sedums are an important source of nectar for red admiral butterflies in the gardens at Charlecote.

Recording Charlecote's butterflies 

Butterflies are among nature's most important pollinators. See what you might discover on a stroll through our gardens and parkland - and find out how we're working with the British Butterfly Trust.

Visitors with wheelchair in garden at Charlecote for access

Access for all 

Find out more about accessibility for all our visitors.