Explore Charlecote's gardens this summer

Look out for colourful contrasts in the borders at Charlecote Park

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.

Enjoy the scent and rich red velvet blooms of rose "Munstead Wood" in the tea garden
Red rose Munstead Wood in tea garden at Charlecote Park
Enjoy the scent and rich red velvet blooms of rose "Munstead Wood" in the tea garden

Summer stalwarts

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.

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

The grass will soon recover as soon as we get some rain - there's no need to waste resources watering the lawns.

Climbing itea ilicifolia is loving the sunshine against the wall of the house
Climbing itea ilicifolia is loving the warm sunshine at Charlecote Park
Climbing itea ilicifolia is loving the sunshine against the wall of the house

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.

Our garden volunteers plant thousands of bedding plants to create the colourful parterre
Volunteers planting summer bedding in parterre garden at Charlecote Park
Our garden volunteers plant thousands of bedding plants to create the colourful parterre

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'.

Rumour has it that Miss Willmott would sprinkle seeds of this eryngium in her friends' gardens
Eryngium Miss Willmotts Ghost in summer garden at Charlecote
Rumour has it that Miss Willmott would sprinkle seeds of this eryngium in her friends' gardens

Look for the mulberry trees by the entrance to the woodland garden in late July and early August - 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.

The mulberry fruits are really squishy - be careful!
Mulberry fruit tree in garden at Charlecote
The mulberry fruits are really squishy - be careful!
Poppies dance on the breeze in the gardens, part of our First World War commemoration
Poppies dance on the breeze in the gardens at Charlecote Park in early summer
Poppies dance on the breeze in the gardens, part of our First World War commemoration

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. The summer scheme is planted by the beginning of June and is in full colour by early July.

Colour in the parterre lasts well into autumn
Aerial view of Charlecote parterre in summer
Colour in the parterre lasts well into autumn

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 and the pretty foliage of the actinidia climbing up the back wall is easily missed.

Look out for dramatic green and black aeoniums and dark fluffy spikes of ornamental millet
Aeonium and ornamental millet are among the talked-about plants in Charlecote's gardens
Look out for dramatic green and black aeoniums and dark fluffy spikes of ornamental millet

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.

Japanese anemones bring late summer colour in the tranquil woodland garden
Japanese anemones in summer woodland garden at Charlecote
Japanese anemones bring late summer colour in the tranquil woodland 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

Our Orangery tearoom 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.

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.

Planting Charlecote Park's gardens with wildlife in mind means we see plenty of butterflies all summer

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.

Explore Charlecote's grounds - many areas are completely wheelchair accessible

Access for all 

Find out more about accessibility for all our visitors.