Work is underway to transform Dyrham Park's formal gardens into a vibrant 21st-century garden with flavours of the past.
The project is inspired by some key historical documents, including Johannes Kip’s 1712 engraving of Dyrham Park. Kip, a 17th-century artist, was noted for his illustrations of birds eye perspectives of the country houses and estates of the time.
The garden project also draws on modern day examples from sites such as the gardens at Versailles in France and at Het Loo in the Netherlands, which the garden team visited while the re-roofing project was underway. This project will be no ordinary restoration, but a reimagination and reflection of the spirit of this place.
Access for all
As the work evolves, visitors will find themselves travelling through a series of garden areas, each one reflecting its own character and mood. The garden will have greater access for all, to deliver an all year round lure thanks to seasonal planting. See the tulips in Spring, the stunning autumn colour in September and exquisite smelling plants in the winter.
“Some of our more regular visitors will have favourite parts of the gardens they will hope to see kept or protected from change,” said Gardener Tim Jones. “For example, the many tulips we have planted here - which make for a fantastic display later in the year.”
Five year project
Dyrham Park’s gardeners have been working closely with garden designers and archaeologists to draw up plans for the new garden - sympathetic towards the history of the house and gardens.
The gardening team first “broke earth” in October 2015, cutting some new trenches in The Avenue - which made for quite a view from the rooftop walkway (now closed). A team of around 60 gardening volunteers is now working on the five-year plan. Propagation is ongoing and thousands of tulips are now planted each year in to the avenue beds and the orchard.
There have been some exciting discoveries over the years and the gardeners have been working closely with archaeologists during this project - carrying out exploratory digs throughout the garden and turning up some interesting finds.
The pitch stones of the church court were first rediscovered in 2004 and further exploration has uncovered a circular stone pattern. The base for one of two Sphinx statues purchased by Dyrham Park founder William Blathwayt, was found in the middle of church court, surrounded by the circular construction of pitch stones.
Inspired by the Kip
The avenue, in which borders have been re-created, represents the historic west entrance to the estate, looking up towards the house and a watchful statue of Mercury (which was restored as part of the re-roofing project).
Mr Jones said: “The careful designs for the avenue ensure attention is brought towards this view, guiding the eyes through a tunnel like shape of manicured gardens and straight lines of the avenue’s long, rectangular flower beds. Thus creating a setting which reflects Kip’s engraving from the west entrance.”
You can find out more about the project with our free daily guided garden tour.