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Visiting the garden at Sizergh

The Rock Garden in June at Sizergh Castle, near Kendal, Cumbria. The Rock garden covers almost an acre and is closely planted with dwarf conifers, Japanese maples and hardy ferns.
Enjoy a summer stroll in the garden at Sizergh | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Complex and varied, the garden areas at Sizergh are interlinked and together tell the story of this family garden which has developed over 800 years. Explore the Rock Garden, Stumpery and Orchard: home to four national collections of hardy ferns, plus the Dutch Garden, Kitchen Garden and herbaceous border.

Please note, the South Lawn will be closed from 17 - 26 June to prepare for a Strickland family wedding. The whole site will be closed on Saturday 22 June.

Summer highlights in Sizergh's gardens

Soak up the sights and smells of the new season and spend a lazy summer’s afternoon in the gardens.

Vibrant colours

Sizergh’s 50m-long herbaceous border is a riot of colour in the summer. Look out for cephalaria, verbascum and geraniums.

In the orchard

Listen to the hum of the honeybees whose hives stand in the sunshine at the far end of the orchard.

In summer, the meadow grass is left to grow long and wild, and the garden team mow paths through it – the perfect place for a peaceful wander.

Wildflower bank

The banking is covered in a mix of wild flowers, including ox-eye daisies and provides shelter to solitary bees, which is why we don’t encourage rolling down it (as tempting as that may be!).

Four national collections of ferns

Throughout the warmer months, the Stumpery had a look of a tropical rainforest, with lush foliage of every description including Ginkgo ‘Saratoga’, tree ferns and a foxglove tree.

A peaceful retreat

The Dutch garden summerhouse provides a shaded sanctuary on a hot summer’s day. Here you'll find a subtle colour scheme of plants and flowers in shades of cream and white.

The Rock Garden

The Rock Garden was created in the early 20th century and originally planted with acers, conifers and herbaceous perennials. Later on, the garden was further developed and more ferns added. In fact, the garden is home to four national collections of hardy ferns, which can be found in the Stumpery, Rock Garden, Kitchen Garden and orchard.

We recommend viewing the Rock Garden from the bench under the Scots Pine with a cup of coffee. This ancient giant will keep you dry during a light shower or shaded from the sun on a hot day. The mature acers, with their delicately shaped leaves, are another highlight, with their magnificent purple foliage in spring and summer which turns to fiery red and orange in autumn.

The Stumpery

The Stumpery opened in 2016 and every spring more than a dozen varieties of miniature daffodils complement the fresh green unfurling fronds of the ferns.

Stumperies were popular in the late-Victorian era when they were seen as a fashionable way to display and grow ferns. Instead of getting rid of old tree stumps, they were arranged artistically and ferns, lichen and moss were encouraged to grow on and around them. Beyond the Stumpery the daffodils continue in the border, part of a varied display of spring shrubs and perennials.

The orchard

You'll find over 65 varieties of apple tree in the orchard, including many northern varieties. Harvesting begins in August with early varieties, and continues until the end of October. The harvest is used in the café or offered to visitors to take home in exchange for a small donation. Surplus fruit and vegetables are donated to Waste into Wellbeing, a local charity that provides meals for the community. Experience the cloud like blossom in spring, the carpet of wild meadow under the trees in summer, and ripe fruit in early autumn.

Fresh produce in the Kitchen Garden

The ethos of self-sufficiency has always been important to the Strickland family and continues to be so to this day. Head Gardener Susan Rowley creates combinations of vegetables and flowers that are not only productive, but also beautiful, culminating in a colourful display.

Just as the Stricklands would have grown fruit and vegetables to be used in their kitchen, today’s produce is supplied directly to the café on a daily basis.

The greenhouse

Many of the vegetables and flowers you see in the Kitchen Garden started life in the greenhouse; there’s always a variety of seedlings in there at any one time. Charlie the garden cat loves it in there because it's so warm, but he has a tendency to lie on the seedlings and crush them, so watch out if he tries to sneak in behind you.

Beautiful borders

There’s always something blooming in the 50m-long herbaceous border. The tennis court shelter is a quiet spot to look out over the border and lawn. It's on your left as you come through the Kitchen Garden and into the Rock Garden.

The Fruit Wall

The Fruit Wall measures 60m and is built from limestone, faced with red brick to absorb the sun’s heat, which helps to ripen the fruit. The apsidal niche at the end of the wall is an ornate sheltered spot that gives great views of the Solar Tower – the oldest part of the castle – and to the fells beyond.

Gardening for wildlife

The garden is home to lots of wildlife. Sunny embankments with wildflowers are the perfect habitat for bank voles and solitary bees, whilst shaded woodland areas are favourite spaces for hedgehogs. Pools and bog areas in the Rock Garden are alive with newts, frogs and toads, and small holes in walls and trees are the perfect place for black caps and pied flycatchers to nest. A dozen bird boxes are also positioned throughout the garden.

The Dutch garden

Open from April through to October, the Dutch garden is arguably the most peaceful part of the garden, and the ideal place for a meditative moment away from the crowds. The patches of long grass and flowers are home to a host of insects and butterflies and if you look up, you get a great view of the Solar Tower above you.

The summerhouse at the end of this area of the garden is a cosy sanctuary when it's wet and a great place for a quiet read - find a new book in the second-hand bookshop.

Take a piece of the garden away with you

You can take a little memento of Sizergh home with you from the garden plant donation stall: vegetables and fruit are available when they're in season, along with bunches of sweet peas. All have been lovingly grown at Sizergh by the team of dedicated garden staff and volunteers.

The Kitchen garden in July at Sizergh Castle, Cumbria
See what's been growing in the Kitchen Garden | © National Trust Images/Val Corbett
A family stand looking across a lake with Sizergh Castle in the background

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