Winter colour at Uppark

Winter sunrise over Uppark House and Garden, West Sussex

One of the noticeable things about a winter visit to Uppark is its silence. Uppark's hilltop isolation lends it a certain stillness even at the height of summer, but the winter quiet is something profound, ancient and welcome.

The cluck of a startled pheasant and a crack of wings on take-off are liable to break this tranquillity. In comparison to the summer's hubbub and its punctuating shouts of excited children running around the meadow, Uppark in winter is a peaceful place. 

The retained architecture of plants left standing long after they've died back, and the suspended weight of the rain drops hanging from their delicate, blackened forms is as beautiful as the summer blooms. 

 

Uppark still hums with a muted vibrancy. The sedum seeds heads have turned deep maroon, the silver-leaved lime hangs onto a few pale green and yellow summer remnants, and the beech leaves, whether on the ground or still on the trees, continue to provide a beautiful splash of red and orange. 

 

Out beyond the south lawn, the leafless copper beech still revels in its commanding isolation. No matter what the time of year, in full leaf or in stark mid-winter, this beautiful tree never fails to inspire. Similarly, although the riotous growth of spring and early summer has long deserted the south meadow, the view remains as stunning as ever. 

Meander around the grounds before warming up in the cafe
Dairy bank in the winter at Uppark, West Sussex
Meander around the grounds before warming up in the cafe

The amphitheatre garden   

The amphitheatre garden, planted with attractive herbaceous shrubs and flower borders, was designed to lead guests to the front of the house and the views of the South Downs. Maps from the 1870s show an extensive path network weaving between the trees. This was covered over in the 20th century and is now in the process of being restored to provide greater access to the garden. The amphitheatre garden is a lovely place to sit on one of the benches and admire the beauty of the garden.   

  

The scented garden   

This secluded and intimate area of the garden, enclosed by yew hedging on one side and a flint wall on the other, is at its finest during the height of summer. Packed full of scent and colour from sweet peas and phlox to lavender, rosemary and old roses, the scented garden is a delight for the senses. Planted sympathetically with some bulbs and annuals, it provides flashes of colour throughout the year.   

 

The scented garden at Uppark is one of many great features here
Uppark's scented garden, West Sussex
The scented garden at Uppark is one of many great features here

South terrace  

The south grass terraces run along the entire principal front of the house and were the site of formal gardens when the house was first built. In the summer, it is the perfect spot to have a picnic, and offers the perfect spot to enjoy the views out towards the Solent.   

  

The meadow   

To the south of the house sits the meadow. At its peak in the summer, when it is filled with a variety of wildflowers and butterflies, pathways are cut into the grasses so you can wander right into its heart. Managed in a traditional manner, it is grazed by sheep in the spring and cut for hay in the summer.   

  

Stretch your legs in the South Meadow and enjoy the views back towards the house
View of Uppark house from the meadow in autumn
Stretch your legs in the South Meadow and enjoy the views back towards the house

Gothic Seat   

Traditionally referred to as ‘The Gothick Seat,’ this important element of the garden at Uppark to the Southeast side of the house was most certainly designed by Humphry Repton’s antiquarian architect son, John Adey Repton, c.1811 - 14. The original colour of the seat is unknown, but this may have been the ‘summer seat’ for the family and their friends to relax and admire the far-reaching views from.   

18th-century carved Gothic seat in Uppark's gardens
18th-century carved Gothic seat in Uppark's gardens
18th-century carved Gothic seat in Uppark's gardens

Coade stone urn  

To the left of the gates to the driveway lies a distinctive grassy mound dating from at least the 18th century. It overlooks an open glade surrounded by shrubs and trees, on top of which sits a white Coade stone Borghese vase. ‘The urn on the mount’, as described by Repton, is partially hidden by box and yew to allow for a delightful surprise when the sun catches the white stone. Pioneered by the artist and businesswoman Eleanor Coade, the ‘stone’ material is made from a mix of clay, terracotta, silicates and glass and fired for four days, making it hard yet fine enough to carve with the elaborate Greco-Roman relief scene.   

Please note, the coade stone urn is covered in the winter months to protect it from frost and inclement weather.

Explore the grounds and discover delights like the coded urn
Coded Urn in the gardens at Uppark, West Sussex
Explore the grounds and discover delights like the coded urn