Summer gardens in the North of England

Whilst we all stay safe at home; our gardens are coming to life for the summer across the North of England. A small team of our gardeners are still working to carry out essential tasks such as watering, weeding and mowing at the moment. So when the time is right to re-open, your favourite green spaces will look as lovely as ever. In the meantime, discover fascinating stories, unusual plants and the seasonal spectacles to look forward to.

A visitor approaching a rhododendron in the Rock Garden at Cragside

A touching tribute at Cragside

This imposing house is home to one of our most popular gardens, with Britain’s tallest Scots Pine tree and a rock garden filled with flowers in summer. Lady Armstrong was a big fan of the gardens surrounding her home and one of the varieties of rhododendron that flower here between May and mid-June is named after her. A nursery catalogue from the nineteenth century also mentions a ‘Lord Armstrong’ rhododendron, too, but our gardeners are yet to find it...

Inside the Victorian glasshouse at Wentworth Castle Gardens

A prehistoric find at Wentworth

The Victorian glasshouse at Wentworth Castle Gardens is still full of exotic plant species today. Yet there’s one plant here that’s got an even longer history than any other. An incredibly rare Cycad grows here, a prehistoric plant species that dates back over 250 million years to the time of the dinosaurs. It’s under threat of extinction in the wild, so we’re very proud to care for this plant at Wentworth.

The rose garden in Summer at Dunham Massey

Roses and recovery at Dunham Massey

Flowers can hold special memories for us all, but there’s one flower at Dunham Massey that tells a powerful story. The lemon yellow rose ‘Stamford’s Sanctuary’ was commissioned by the National Trust to mark the centenary of the First World War, when Dunham Massey became the Stanford Military Hospital and cared for hundreds of wounded soldiers.

A close up of banana leaves

Getting fruity at Nostell

At the heart of the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, Nostell is well known for the delicious fruit and vegetables grown in its walled garden. But one of the fruits growing here, you wouldn’t normally find quite so close to Wakefield. Banana plants grow in Nostell’s garden, producing bright yellow fruit when we have a warm summer.

The laburnum arch at Seaton Delaval Hall in bloom

A ray of sunshine at Seaton Delaval Hall

From the end of May, the laburnum arch at Seaton Delaval Hall bursts into life with bunches of sunny yellow flower chains. The flowers, sometimes known as golden rain, are said to be a symbol of pensive beauty. Leading through to the arboretum with rhododendron bushes in a riot of colour, we’ll be sure to share lots of pictures of this vibrant tunnel on our social media channels for you to enjoy.

The river and valley-setting of the garden at Quarry Bank Mill with flowering rhododendrons

Eye-catching colours at Quarry Bank

Unseasonably warm weather brought the heritage rhododendrons at Quarry Bank into bloom early this year. These bright pink and purple beauties usually flower in late May through June. Many of the rhododendrons were planted by the Greg family who built the mill. Robert Hyde Greg, the second owner, was also a keen horticulturalist and brought back many of the species that still grow today from his travels around the world.

The newly created Pergola garden at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens.

Pergola perfection at Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough’s garden is in the middle of an exciting transformation project to refresh and reinvent all eight acres. Created by RHS Chelsea award-winning designer Andy Sturgeon, the pergola is the newest addition to the garden and is set to look stunning this summer. Deep purple Iris ‘Sable’ flowers, climbing white wisteria, and flowering aquilegias will create a tranquil scene in late May.

View of the herb garden at Acorn Bank, looking towards the medicinal conservatory

Ancient myths at Acorn Bank

The Herb Garden at Acorn Bank is a treat for the senses, bursting with the scents and colours of traditional cottage garden plants. There are species here that were common in times gone by but are rarely seen today, including Agrimonia eupatoria, sometimes known as Beggars’ Ticks or Sticklewort. In ancient folklore it’s said to be used to ward off witchcraft.

The 18th-century water garden at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden

A world-class water garden at Studley Royal

Recognised with World Heritage Site status since 1986, Studley Royal Water Garden at Fountains Abbey is a landscaped masterpiece. The garden is an exceptional example of an 18th century ‘English’ garden. And it’s hardly changed since its creation by the visionary father and son duo, John and William Aislabie. Classical temples and statues are scattered between elegant ponds, canals and cascades. But the atmospheric abbey ruins make the finest eye-catcher of all!

The Rose Garden to the East of the Orangery at Lyme Park

A rose-tinted view at Lyme

This restored Edwardian rose garden is the second highest in the care of the National Trust, at 850 feet (260m) above sea level. During the summer months it’s filled with a range of highly scented roses and superb colours, including ‘Darcey Bussell’, a vibrant crimson pink rose with an uplifting scent. There’ll also be some tulips popping up in the beds this year as our gardeners ‘rest the soil’.

A close up of Chilean lantern tree flowers

A Chilean delight at High Close

In the garden at High Close Estate in Cumbria there’s a spectacular Chilean lantern tree (called Crinodendron hookerianum) which blooms bright red, lanter-shaped flowers in summer. These plants can be difficult to grow in the UK – especially up North. All credit goes to ranger Neil and his team for keeping this special specimen in bloom.

The herb garden at Llanerchaeron

Gardening tips: From our garden to yours 

While we're all staying at home, for many of us our thoughts turn to gardening. This week we're thinking about the herbs that you can grow easily whether you have a garden, a patio or a windowsill.