The west bank garden at Hughenden

Originally designed as a secluded woodland walk that led down from the Manor to the wider parkland, the west bank garden had a unique character filled with yew trees and primroses. After decades of being derelict the gardeners at Hughenden have been restoring it to reflect Disraeli’s vision of a peaceful place, distinct from the formality of the parterre.

Groundwork and preparation

In October 2016, the groundworks began with a new fence being erected, to mark the line of the garden and to protect it from foraging rabbits. The next task was digging out the perennial weeds that had completely taken over the space; brambles and wild raspberry, elderberry and ash regeneration.

With the pathway restored in February 2017, we were finally ready to introduce plants in to the new design.  Over 600 shrubs and 500 primroses arrived, all varieties that were used in Victorian times, and funded thanks to visitors purchasing tickets in our Christmas raffle and local donations.

First the plants were quarantined in the walled garden to make sure any diseases or issues were identified before they were moved to their new home. And then our garden team of two staff and 15 volunteers worked hard for two months planting out before the garden was ready for visitors to see in April 2017.

Volunteer garden team hard at work on the West Bank
West bank garden planting
Volunteer garden team hard at work on the West Bank

Plants to spot

Just one year on and the young plants are beginning to establish and naturalise. As a winter display garden, the sweet box avenue and winter flowering shrubs are at their best in January and February. The sweet box fills the cold air with its perfumed scent, a treat worth venturing out for even on the frostiest day. In spring, the blossom of acacia, almond and magnolia trees stand out against the dark shades of the surrounding woodland. All year ground cover features bergenia, vinca and galium.

We have reinstated the original benches along the path and whilst the view has changed somewhat over the decades it is once again a restful place to sit and enjoy the scenery at any time of year.

" The West Bank Walk looked across the valley “to a spot where seats have been provided for the enjoyment of a pleasing view of the Wycombe Valley and the little town”."
- Benjamin Disraeli