Conserving the herbaceous border

The herbaceous border in winter, as seen from the mirror pool

The garden team at Upton House and Gardens are halfway through an ambitious conservation project to return the impressive double herbaceous border to its 1930s heyday.

Kitty Lloyd Jones was the pioneering garden designer Lady Bearsted chose to redesign Upton’s garden in the 1930s. At a time when few professions were open to women, Kitty’s design talents, practical determination and warmth, won her respect and esteem from the aristocratic clients she advised.   

Her commission at Upton marked the start of a flourishing career and the herbaceous borders remain a legacy of her knowledge and craft in this form of planting. The work here is part of a three year project to revise the planting scheme and control perennial weeds.

Heather Aston, Head Gardener, explains, ‘We’re following Kitty’s planting plans which she set out in the publication, Modern Garden Craft (1936) and her notes, in letters to Lady Bearsted, also reveal her schemes and ideas.’

'Strong colours, deep yellows, orange and scarlet should be used in such a way that they quietly progress from one shade to another,' reads an extract from Kitty's publication. 

The gardeners have now replanted the first third of this impressive 56m long border and started work to clear the middle section. Kitty chose varieties of plants that reach their peak between July and September, the period when the Bearsted family would have been at home.

The double herbaceous border is in full colour in summer
The sloping herbaceous border in full colour
The double herbaceous border is in full colour in summer
Kitty Lloyd Jones

Great women gardeners 

From wealthy socialites to horticultural pioneers, journey through the gardens of time and discover seven of history's most inspirational women gardeners, including Upton's own Kitty Lloyd Jones.