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Explore the gardens at Rufford Old Hall

Bluebells in the garden at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire
Bluebells in the garden at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire | © ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris

The gardens at Rufford Old Hall showcase lots of variety, from giant squirrel-shaped topiary and resident bees, to picnic spots in the Orchard Paddock and peaceful moments by the canal.

The gardens in spring

As the weather starts to warm, experience the sights and sounds of spring at Rufford Old Hall.

Don’t miss these spring highlights

  • The North Woods are awash with bluebells in mid-April and early May, with winding paths and bridges that allow you to admire them up close.
  • Daffodils spring up across the garden, and purple crocuses take over the Beech Walk Paddock, creating the perfect photo opportunity with Rufford Old Hall in the background.
  • Huge, colourful rhododendrons burst into colour along the Squirrel Border in April and May, with varieties including Loderi King George - prized for its powerful fragrance and pretty blooms, Yakushimanum – with its small clusters of beautiful bell-shaped flowers, augustinii ‘Electra’ – showcasing its stunning large deep blue-purple flower, and luteum – known for its striking yellow blooms and pleasant fragrance.
  • Another highlight of spring at Rufford is the large wisteria that has been expertly trained across the rose garden wall, providing a magnificent display and plenty of nectar for resident bees.

South Lawn

Head to the rear of the black and white Tudor House, where you’ll find a peaceful calm to admire the beautiful trees, shrubs and plants on the South Lawn. You’ll find towering pine trees, statues of Venus and the Dancing Faun and don’t forget the Rose Garden, where there’s always something magnificent to admire.

Beech Walk Paddock

Lined by a wall of towering beech trees on one side and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on the other, this is a wonderful place to take a seat and enjoy some quiet time. Previously this would have been the former approach from Rufford Village to the Hall.

The Squirrel Border

Take a seat on one of the benches in the Squirrel Border and admire the beautiful surroundings. Marvel at the mischievous duo of giant squirrel-shaped topiary, which back in the 1900s used to be in the shape of pheasants. The Garden Team work hard to ensure this expertly manicured topiary always look in tip top condition for visitors to admire and enjoy all year round.

Visitors in the garden in spring
Visitors in the garden in spring | © James Dobson

The Orchard

The first recording of an Orchard at Rufford is from 1779, when the Hall was leased to a gardener called Thomas Lowe for 21 years at an annual rent of £22 and 16 shillings.

Today, Rufford's Orchard contains several varieties of blossoming apple and pear trees, including Keswick Codlin, Duke of Devonshire, Lemon Pippin and Bramley’s Seedling to name but a few.

North Woods and North Paddock

Enjoy far-reaching views over the West Lancashire plain with a stroll through Rufford’s North Woods and along the canal-side path before reaching the wide-open North Paddock. The North Woods come alive with bursts of plant activity throughout the year and an array of wildlife can be found along the banks of the canal. After a walk around the grounds, why not enjoy a tasty treat or something savoury in the cosy Victorian tea-room.

Beehive in the garden at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire
Beehive in the garden | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

The Beehives

The Garden Team at Rufford Old Hall carefully manage the hives to ensure a healthy colony, which in turn creates pollinators for the garden and ensures a good crop of honey and apples.

Bees are essential to a healthy environment and at Rufford Old Hall there are three hives with new queens, from Rufford’s own stock of bees.

Queen bees

The queen bee is central to the hive and without her the colony would not survive. You don’t often see the queen, despite her large size, which isn’t surprising as she lives in a hive with up to 65,000 bees in summer.

To help the beekeeper keep track of the queen she’s marked with a colour denoting the year she was born. Queens don't live for more than five years, so only five colours are needed.


The native lime trees in the garden and shrubs such as Viburnum opulus (Guelder rose) are popular sources of nectar for the bees.

A surprising nectar and pollen source that isn’t native to this country is the Parthenocissus, or Virginia creeper, on the wall in the courtyard. Its dramatic autumn colour is not to be missed.

Bees are also attracted to a late-summer flowering shrub on the Squirrel Border, Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva', with its creamy white conical flowers.

Two visitors are walking past a bright green lawn which has decorative bushes planted on it, towards the house at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire, on a bright sunny day.

Discover more at Rufford Old Hall

Find out when Rufford Old Hall is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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