The formal garden at Hughenden

The Disraeli’s remodelled Hughenden Manor and added a new fashionable formal garden in an Italianate style.

At the young age of 73, Mary Anne oversaw a team of 20 labourers who re-landscaped the grounds adding rows of terraces, a formal parterre, annual beds and classical statuary, set against a backdrop of box hedging and shaped yew trees.

When it was finished, Disraeli said “We have made a garden of terraces, in which cavaliers might roam and saunter with their ladye-loves’.

Vibrant colours

The bedding scheme is changed every six months and as part of the National Trust’s programme of ‘Women and Power’ assistant gardener, Catherine has designed a display to celebrate Queen Victoria’s visit to Hughenden. Disraeli and Queen Victoria enjoyed a close friendship and the summer floral display takes the colour of the royal standard as its inspiration and showcases one of Queen Victoria’s favourite flowers – Canna Lilies.

The display will boast bright red pelargonium and salvia that will stand in contrast with the vibrant blues of salvia ‘sensation deep blue’ and heliotropium arborescous. Punctuating the royal blues and reds are the dark gold of tagetes patula ‘Inca orange’.

Floral restoration

When the National Trust took on the care of Hughenden Manor in 1947, the gardens were little more than hay meadows however Mary Anne left diaries about her management of Hughenden including valuable detail on the work to create the formal gardens. Using these diaries and photographs from Queen Victoria’s visit in 1881, the gardens have been restored to reflect the taste of its former owners and laid out as they were in 1880. The vivid use of colour, especially in the parterre designs, remains true to Mary Anne’s vision. And Disraeli’s favourite swans are now celebrated in topiary form.

The north lawn reflected the couples’ enduring passion for trees and uncharacteristically for a manor house approach it featured ten specimen trees. These were all felled during the Second World War to make way for a parade ground but have now been reinstated making for a dramatic entrance to the Manor. An Atlas cedar which came down in the 2016 storms has also been re-created as a Victorian stumpery.

Conservation in action

The next piece of restoration work our garden team is tackling is to the south terrace borders. Based on photographs from Country Life’s visit in 1938, we know the border was historically an herbaceous bed. The tiered shrubs that were in place until recently have been removed and the terrace beds now feature herbaceous plants full of tall flowers and bulbs to add a longer floral display in the formal garden.

Your visit helps us care for these fascinating gardens, thank you.