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Things to see in Biddulph Grange Garden

The neatly cut hedges and parterre at Biddulph Grange Gardens, with colourful woodland in the background
The intricate parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire | © National Trust Images/John Miller

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.

Spring in the garden

A miraculous time when the garden is refilled with colour and scent. Flowers become abundant once more as the sun begins to shine and the earth warms up. Beginning in March, the small yellow flowers of the buttercup witch hazel come into bloom. Throughout April more plants are coming into flower with bergenia and winter-flowering honeysuckle in the Chinese Garden and then in May the Chilean flame trees are ablaze with red flowers in the bowling green. Follow the winding path through the woodland walk, viewing the daffodils and other spring flowers in bloom, to reach the large urn at the top of Wellingtonia Avenue for a good view of surrounding countryside. The first rhododendron to flower is usually in the Glen appearing in April and then the others start to bloom around the lake, reaching a peak of colour in mid-May. At the top of Lime Avenue is an interesting feature called rainbow which has four concentric arcs of rhododendrons which flower together. Throughout the garden, the trees are showing fresh, young foliage varying in colour from the red of the acers in the Chinese garden to the vibrant green of the lime trees forming Lime Avenue where Bateman planted pools of ivy around their base to mimic their shadow.

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.

Stone sphinxes in the area known as 'Egypt' at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire
Stone sphinxes in the area known as 'Egypt' at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire | © National Trust Images/John Miller


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.

Dahlia Walk

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.

Wellingtonia Avenue

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.

View inside the Geological Gallery at Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire
View inside the Geological Gallery at Biddulph Grange | © National Trust Images/John Miller


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.

View looking over the manicured yew hedges of the Parterre and Dahlia Walk at Biddulph, Staffordshire

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