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The garden at Hughenden

Orange tulips in a garden border at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire
Tulips in the garden at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Discover the many faces of the garden, with its show-stopping parterre framed by the surrounding estate. From an ultra-formal Italian-influenced geometric garden to a productive traditional walled garden, it’s easy to see how it was enjoyed over the centuries.

Spring flowers start early at Hughenden, with naturalised snowdrops and primroses dotted around the North Lawn and Pleasure Grounds. The whites and yellows of daffodils and tulips begin the spring display backed by the elegant mauve cascades of the wisteria in late spring along with Choisya ternata and its lovely fragrant white flowers. There are occasional spring flowering shrubs and trees such as forsythia, lilacs, mimosa and the Judas trees to catch the eye whilst wandering around the gardens.

The entrance to the garden

Benjamin Disraeli’s unusual choice for the entrance to his country house reflects his personality. Usually given over to floral beds or fountains, the formal entrance at Hughenden features 10 striking specimen conifers including a Colorado blue spruce and a rare Cypriot cedar. Sitting on a perfect lawn the tall evergreen trees give glimpsed views of the red-brick mansion behind.

The formal garden

The south-facing formal garden at the rear of the house is Italianate in style, with terraces, classical statuary and a formal parterre filled with annual bedding plants and displays of bold colours, set against a backdrop of box hedging and shaped yew trees. Late season flowers in the borders such as asters, dahlias and salvias as well as the pollinator inspired summer bedding scheme on the parterre.

The parterre in spring with Hughenden Manor in the background, Hughenden, Buckinghamshire
The parterre in spring at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Spring Bedding on the Parterre

This year's bedding scheme at Hughenden Manor draws inspiration from Greek legends embodied by two iconic spring bulbs.

Hyacinthus, whose beauty captivated Apollo but met a tragic end, is honored with Hyacinth 'Blue Sapphire' and Bellis 'Bellissima Red' representing the blood that flower Hyacinth grew out of.

In another corner, the tale of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection, is depicted with Narcissus 'Rijnve Early Sensation' outlining the leaves of a four-leaf clover, with Carex 'Evercolor Everest' and Narcissus 'Rapture' and a leaf infill of the old daffo variety Narcissus 'Carlton' and Myosotis "Bon Amie Blue' providing the detail.

These plantings not only celebrate ancient myths but also incorporate evergreen perennials, adapting to winter wildlife damage. With bursts of color and symbolism, the bedding scheme invites visitors to experience the enchantment of nature's myths and marvels.

Pleasure grounds

The formal garden gives way to the pleasure grounds, which were established in the 18th century to enjoy the wider views across the parkland.

Created in the ‘wilderness gardening’ style fashionable at the time, it remains a managed natural space with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees including yew, lime, sweet chestnut and sycamore, underplanted with flowering shrubs and early spring bulbs adding colour and scent through the year.

The Disraelis shared a love of nature and a passion for trees and spent hours enjoying the gardens, strolling through the pleasure grounds to enjoy its vistas over the Chiltern Hills and the season’s changing views.

Walk around to the east side of the gardens and here you'll see the landscape window created by Mary Anne Disraeli. The tall straight trunks of the Atlas cedar trees either side, with the ha-ha below, act as a natural picture frame for the view of the parkland and across the valley to the hills beyond.

Daffodils in the Walled Garden at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire
Daffodils in the Walled Garden at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire | © Hugh Mothersole

Walled garden

Based on planting from the Victorian period, the walled garden features fruit trees, vegetable plots and herbaceous flower borders. There are three active vegetable beds with one resting bed to allow for crop rotation.

The south-facing aspect of Hughenden’s walled garden means less hardy plants thrive here. Set on a gentle slope, the angle is a unique feature of the garden. Even in cooler seasons the heat rises up the slope creating a warmer climate and a ‘frost gate’ in the bottom corner allows the cold air to escape.

This aspect, and the shelter of the brick walls, creates the perfect microclimate for soft fruit to grow successfully. Trained against the sunniest walls are morello cherry, apricot and fig, and in a sheltered corner a quince, an old traditional English damson plum and the Aylesbury prune are thriving.

Productive and pleasing

The walled garden was vital to support the efficient running of the house. Growing a range of produce, with companion planting to supply the manor with flowers through the summer, it has been a productive space for most of its 200-year history.

Blossom on the trees in the Orchard at Hughenden
The Orchard in spring at Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire | © David Sellman

The Orchard

A small cherry orchard features seven different trees, and the more extensive apple orchard includes 47 varieties of old English apples along with pear trees and medlar.

In the Walled Garden and orchard, the apple, pear and cherry trees will be blossoming from April to May.

View of the house from the parkland at Hughenden, Buckinghamshire

Discover more at Hughenden

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

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