A parterre reborn

The ghost of a parterre

The footprint of a parterre has been mown into the grass in North Garden, creating an echo of the Tudor vision for this space.

Four centuries ago, a garden did not mean floral abundance and wild nature; it was a place of theatre and display, where the nature was tamed into intricate, formal patterns. 

The layout of North Garden is a rare survival of an Elizabethan garden. A stroll around the raised upper walkways would have been the perfect way to admire the fashionable parterre below, further proof of Sir Edward Phelips’ wealth and status.

Now, Montacute’s garden team have recreated that idea, using Victorian designs that drew on Tudor concepts.

‘We have the plans for a parterre planted here in the 19th century, so the team have been busy measuring out those shapes,’ explains Chris Gaskin, Head Gardener. ‘Our plan is to mow the designs into the grass this year, to give a feel of how it would have looked.’

Over time the parterre will evolve and ultimately may become more recognisable to a Tudor visitor, with the shapes transformed into beds with colourful planting and surrounded by small hedges.