Hare Hill wooded garden project
Here at Hare Hill we are working hard to restore areas of our wooded garden, to both improve the health of the plants and wildlife and better reflect the vision of owner Charles Brocklehurst and garden designer James Russell, who worked on this garden in the 1960s.
The Brocklehurst family garden
What is the background to this work at Hare Hill?
In the 1960s, Colonel Charles Brocklehurst, the final owner of Hare Hill, worked with garden designer James Russell on the Wooded Garden. Russell designed the 20th century borders in this ornamental part of the garden, sending frequent letters to Colonel Brocklehurst with descriptions of the plants he recommended.
Many of the changes that Brocklehurst and Russell made to Hare Hill have become lost or overgrown over the years. And now, thanks to support and funding from the Oglesby Trust, we are using Russell’s design plan and the letters between the two men to renew and recreate these original plans.
What does the Family Garden restoration project involve?
The Family Garden is a large area situated to the west of the Walled Garden. It is the oldest part of the ornamental garden at Hare Hill, being landscaped by the Brocklehurst family when the Walled Garden was built in the early 20th century.
The evidence is that the family and guests would enter the garden through this area and the family had a high quality, semi-formal entrance created. Notable features of this area are; stone edges to borders, decorative stone urns, and wide steps leading to the iron gate of the Walled Garden. Significant plants in this area include original hollies and conifer from 1900 plantings and the’ twin’ cedar trees, probably planted in honour of the birth of twins Charles and Patrick, but sadly now diseased.
Before the project, the important historical Rockery was at risk of dereliction. The original Russell plants were vulnerable to disease and threatened by increased shade from nearby trees. The area was overgrown and overcrowded, with only a few significant plants remaining. Many of the shrubs in this area were poor specimens, too far gone to be retained.
Thanks to the support of the Oglesby Trust, we began this project in 2019 and work was able to continue during 2020.
What have we done so far?
Cleared the area and restored James Russell’s planting plans
Over time, the trees and shrubs planted by Francis Brocklehurst in the late 19th century, along with those planted by James Russell for Colonel Brocklehurst in the mid-20th century, became overgrown. This meant light was not reaching the ground and so the underplanting had been mainly lost.
During 2019, the overgrowth in this area was removed or thinned back, opening up space and allowing more light to reach the ground. The thinning or removal of plants has also revealed the ornamental brickwork on this side of the walled garden. The brickwork on the opposite side of the garden is plain, which shows that it was the back of house area used by the gardeners.
In 2020 the borders were re-planted the way they were intended, using the plants James Russell selected wherever possible and adding a new layer of planting inspired by the plans from 1960 onwards.
Stabilised the rockery
This area was the formal, ornamental entrance to the Walled Garden. Its location was too shady to grow all but the earliest of spring bulbs, so we saw a wonderful opportunity to create a suitably charming Rockery planted with unusual spring and summer interest plants. The plants around the Rockery were too big, so we plan to replace these with smaller species to create the right scale for the area.
What are we doing in 2021?
Building new pathways
Restored pathways behind the rockery will allow visitors to walk this area, as the Brocklehursts would have done in the past, and to experience the twists, turns and reveals of this once secret garden.
New hard paths are being laid to allow good access to this area, and the path will link to the Boggy Square, an area of parkland taken back in hand to create a wildflower meadow.
Planting the wildflower meadow
In 2019, an area of the tenant farmland between the car park and the Wooded Garden was fenced off, to create a new garden area for Hare Hill. This wildflower meadow area follows the spirit of contemporary creation and design at Hare Hill, shown by both Francis and his great nephew Charles Brocklehurst as they shaped the garden in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
The aim of the wildflower meadow is to help support nature, in particular insects and butterflies, and create a resilient garden area at Hare Hill in response to climate change. The creation of this wildflower meadow has been made possible with the support of the Rossendale Trust and with plants grown by users of Macclesfield Community garden, along with plants grown at Garth and Wymott prisons as part of their rehabilitation programme.
Watch the video to find out more about this part of the project:
Work began on the pond area in 2017, when visitors to Hare Hill supported our plans to dredge them by horse, helping us to raise over £25,000 to carry out this work. The work took place in the summer of 2018 and was very successful.
In 2019, the first pond was replanted using the leaf mulch which we extracted from the pond. Since then, we have continued this work, dredging the other ponds, tracking the wildlife as it returns and continuing the planting. We are now half way through the dredging work and hope to complete it over the next two years.