Things to see in Biddulph Grange Garden
There’s something to see around every corner at Biddulph Grange Garden. Explore the garden rooms that connect with each other through tunnels, passageways and intriguing gaps in the hedges. With things to discover throughout the year, take some time to enjoy everything this quirky and playful paradise has to offer.
The time when Biddulph Grange Garden is at its most striking. The dahlias are in full bloom and the reds and oranges of the China Garden will take your breath away just before the leaves begin to fall.
Take a walk through an incredible landscape of orange and gold. Jump in crunchy leaves, discover shiny conkers and enjoy invigorating fresh air.
Nowhere is more stunning than in the Chinese garden where the golden larch is golden and the acers are ablaze with reds and oranges. Meander along the bank of the arboretum where the leaves of the small euonymus shrubs turn completely red with the leaves of the liquidambar complementing this colourful picture.
Late flowers include dahlias and toad lilies, an interesting small-flowered fuchsia in the verbena parterre and four varieties of hydrangea in the bowling green and quoits' ground.
A global expedition
The garden is laid out to take you from one small compartment (or garden room) to another in a horticultural adventure of discovery. Each garden room is separated by hedges, banks and rockwork, with paths, steps and tunnels leading from one area to another. Central to the garden are the rare and exotic plants from all over the globe, as well as unusual features and historic Grade II listed sculptures from the Victorian period.
The China Garden
Surely Biddulph’s most memorable garden with its bright, loud, foreign colours, lit up with gold, the China garden is a far cry from the pale classical temples or rustic huts of English landscape gardens. It is also remarkable in that it has so many features packed close together - a pagoda, a bridge, monumental doorways, a joss house, a ‘Great Wall’ and a tower.
Even though it is dominated by a grand temple doorway in stone, bearing an image of the sun god Ra and four stone sphinxes, the rest of its massive sculptural presence is created entirely from clipped yew. Through the centre of a rectangular grass court, surrounded by hedges, runs a path flanked by two pairs of sphinxes and by topiary obelisks. It leads to the stone doorway with the top of a pyramid, also in yew, rising high behind it.
A series of magnificent formal terraces in the Italian style can be seen on the land dropping steeply away from the house. Alongside the descending path, a colourful bedding display is set out in ribbons. The plants of a typical Italian garden would not survive on this sometime wet and windy English hillside. Instead plants from around the world are used to create the desired effect.
There are banks of variegated holly, rhododendrons and sweet-scented azaleas from the Caucasus. There remains one of Bateman’s Pieris floribunda, from the south east of the USA, the hardiest of its tribe and then highly desirable and expensive because it flowered early, in March.
Instead of the narrow cypresses universally associated with Italian gardens and seen in so many religious paintings of the Renaissance, there are the upright forms of bone-hardy junipers, native even in the high-rainfall areas of the English Lake District.
The Dahlia Walk is Biddulph’s most spectacularly colourful showpiece. Dahlias are planted in tiers between huge buttressed yew hedging and provide a dazzling display of colour. Yew is used throughout the garden to create bays and 'rooms'. The dahlias are planted out in June after the danger of early frosts is over and they flower spectacularly, reaching a peak in early Septemer. Many types of dahlia are planted, such as pompon or ball, which would have been available in the late 19th century but some more modern types such as collarette are included.
There are many evergreen trees, and the Pinetum displays fine example of conifers including cedars, pines and redwoods. Groups of young trees have been planted on raised banks to maximise the effect and also on mounds to display the roots. There’s also an impressive group of mature monkey puzzle trees. Four trees in the quarter beds of the monkey puzzle parterre are dug up and moved here after 10 to 12 years. This creates a rare sight of a monkey puzzle forest in the Pinetum.
The avenue of grand Wellingtonias, Sequoiadendron giganteum, stretches from the Arborteum to the largest stone garden urn in Britain and the edge of Biddulph Grange Country Park. This avenue was replanted with seedlings grown from seed harvested on site from the Wellingtonia trees originally planted in the Pinetum. The avenue also includes parallel rows of Red horse chestnuts and Austrian black pines.
A Victorian curiosity, the Gallery contains a selection of fossils and geological strata displayed in a chronological order in an attempt to reconcile mid-19th century geological knowledge with the Christian story of Genesis. The form in which the fossils are displayed – separated into bays numbered according to the days of creation – makes the structure the only survival of its kind.
The oldest stumpery in the country and the inspiration for many more around the country, including the one in the woods of Highgrove, King Charles’ home in Gloucestershire. The stumpery consists of a sunken path bordered by upside-down oak tree roots among which grow a great variety of ferns, delicate plants and mosses. The stumps are packed close together, interlacing each other and reaching up to three or four metres.
The path wriggles along between them, up and down, and in some places the stumps merge overhead to form a tunnel. It is, in a sense, a rockery made of wood.
Pick up a tasty treat in the tea-room, grab a must-have in the shop or select a second-hand book from the bookshop in the cherry orchard. Read all about eating and shopping at Biddulph Grange.
Read about the people that shaped Biddulph Grange Garden, the people that created it and its legacy.
Discover more about the work currently being undertaken to care for Biddulph Grange Garden.
Groups have been coming to Biddulph Grange since Victorian times. With guided tours and self-led visits, discover what makes this Grade I listed garden so special.
If you’re interested in volunteering at Biddulph Grange Garden, please keep checking for future opportunities.
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