Long Term Archive Volunteer, The Argory
Throughout August, Sally has delved into the archives and discovered some of Lady Bond's thoughts regarding the gardens at The Argory.
The warmer months of the year play host to a plethora of garden shows - from Tatton Park to Hampton Court; from Chatsworth to Chelsea - and there is no doubt about it; we have been treated to a spectacular summer this year. And what better reason could there be to head outdoors but to enjoy the beauty of a garden?
The gardens here at The Argory often go unsung. However, they seem to leave a deep impression on all who visit. While more modest in their ambitions than Florence Court or Mount Stewart, the Argory gardens are no less lovely. Indeed, there is something about their situation, on the banks of the River Blackwater that could make you forget that you are in a garden at all.
The pleasure grounds
In the archive, there are many references to the pleasure grounds here – the square of lawn to the north of the house, which is dominated by two large yew arbours. Here you will find the East and West pavilions*, square stone buildings which flank either end of the retention wall. It is also in this area of the garden that visitors can find the grave of second owner Captain Shelton’s beloved terrier, Vic, sheltered under the tulip tree.
Such a picture
It seems that the gardens here have occupied a special place in the hearts of everyone who has ever spent any time in them and none more so than Lady Bond. She wrote to her son in 1931 “I think next year you might tackle what I call the West Bank. You have no idea how charming that bit looked when we first made it. Looking up at the house, over beautiful patches of colour, was such a picture.”
The flower bed she refers to was subsequently turned back to grass, but visitors can still see a “bank” on the lawns in front of the West Hall door. It was on these lawns that the family would lounge in their garden seats, or perhaps enjoy a game of croquet on a sunny day.
Summer is also the best time to enjoy the roses in the sundial garden and they have put on a great show of flowers this year. Seeing their bright heads bobbing in the breeze brings to mind another of Lady Bond’s remarks; in 1941 in response to a letter from Tommy she wrote “[glad to learn that roses and jessamine do well. Can imagine that the roses are overdoing it and must be taught self-control and not be too pushy.”
Come and experience the gardens for yourself
If you would like to come and see the beauty of the gardens and woodland as we move into autumn, you can enjoy guided tours of the estate with our Ranger Tracey on some Sundays throughout September and October**, or feel free to wander alone at your leisure. Who knows, if you take the River Walk, you may even spot a kingfisher. As Mr Bond wrote in 1941 “there is no mistaking the flash of blue.”
*The West Pavilion, which houses a pump that brought water from the Blackwater River to the laundry yard and to the acetylene gas plant, will be opening to the public soon as part of an exciting new technology trail.
**Guided garden tours will take place from visitor reception, starting at 2pm on 9, 16, 30 September and 7, 14, 28 October