Restoring the Chartwell views

An image of the newly cleared view over the South border towards the Weald of Kent

The Chartwell garden team is currently in the process of restoring the large border near the front of Chartwell house known as the Mansion Border, opening the views out over the Weald of Kent back up for all our visitors to enjoy.

What needed doing?

Before this project began, the overgrown shrubby planting scheme consisted mainly of various Lonicera (Honeysuckle), Rhododendron, Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel) and Philodelphus (Mock Orange). The planting was mostly evergreen, which provided good cover but lacked seasonal interest and had also outgrown its space, blocking the view to the south across the garden and towards the High Weald, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The gardeners were faced with the option of either rejuvenating the existing planting through hard pruning or digging out the existing plants and starting again.

A cluttered view over the Mansion border before the work started

Since the existing plants were not historic to the Churchills and were not particularly significant from a horticultural point of view either, it was decided to take the opportunity to dig out the existing plants and redesign the border in a way which kept the view open, provides year-round interest and better reflects the theme of the rest of the garden.

Clearing the way

This project was carried out by all eight garden staff as well as our 64-strong team of garden volunteers. 

The first task was clearance which involved two days of chain sawing and moving brush back to the gardener’s yard, where it was chipped and fed back into the garden through our composting process. 

After the top growth was removed the next challenge was digging out the stumps, which has mostly involved mattocks and a lot of persistence, with some of the larger stumps being stump ground by contractors. 

A view over the Mansion border mid-clearance

Due to how entwined some of the roots had become, the ground was dug over, raked and levelled, ready for the new shrubs to go in, which were planted in early 2020.

Restoring the views

Clearing the area was very exciting for the property because it has since allowed us to experience views which had become lost over time as the shrubs became overgrown. The intention is that these views will now be preserved for years to come, providing visitors with a new way of experiencing Chartwell.

We have also come across some lost features in this area. For example, we were not aware that this border had been terraced with stone walls at one point, now visible out from under the foliage. This project has also exposed the back of the Butterfly House, which is historic to the time of Churchill, and has become a more prominent feature of this area thanks to the restoration of the border.

Clearance works lasted until the end of 2019 and then in early 2020 the ground was prepared and replanted. Approximately 50 shrubs were planted including Cornus kousa (Korean Dogwood), Hydrangea serrata and Viburnum x juddii. The shrubs will also be underplanted with 150 perennials, mainly long-flowering Geraniums to help hold colour and interest throughout the year.

This has been an exciting project for the property, but the best is still yet to come. Watch this space and keep checking back as we will be posting another update after the project is completed, and of course, make certain to visit us next year when you’ll be able to see the results in person as well.