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Exploring the garden at Packwood

Tulips in the borders at Packwood, Warwickshire
Spring colour in the borders at Packwood | © John Bayley

“A house to dream of; a garden to dream in.” So wrote a visitor to Packwood in the 1930s. Wander around the garden, and a bit further afield to find out how true that comment is. Discover herbaceous borders, wildflower meadows and a beautiful orchard. Don’t miss the bountiful kitchen garden and admire the magnificent yew trees.

Spring in the gardens

Spring is a wonderful time at Packwood with plenty of interest throughout.

In March the gardens become awash with bright yellow daffodils and the best place to find them is along the roadside verges and a thick carpet lines the floor in the orchard.

The primrose bank will be in full bloom on the outer southern edge of the Kitchen Garden and the hellebores are showing their cream and purple faces in the double herbaceous borders. If you are lucky and the weather keeps mild you may see; echium pininana with its outrageously long ‘borage like’ blue and pink flower spike and melianthus major (honey bush) with its unusual brownish crimson to deep brick-red long flowers that last made their appearance in the garden at Packwood in 2013.

The main garden areas come alive in April when the tulips and wallflowers start to bloom. They add a welcome splash of colour to the gardens.

The sunken garden is also well worth a look for its succulents and the purple ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ perennial wallflowers all growing out of the crushed brick.

Further afield, under the oak trees, lurk delicate yellow dogs tooth violets with their sulphur-yellow nodding flowers and a few have found their way into some of the borders.

A view of spring colour in the gardens at Packwood, Warwickshire
There's lots of colourful planting in the spring borders | © John Bayley

Around the house

The gardens near the house were laid out in the 1630s by John Fetherstone, during the reign of Kings Charles I and II, hence its name – the Carolean Garden. The main features are:

  • The Yellow Border. The yellow border is a real showstopper from late spring and is an excellent example of Packwood’s ‘mingled style’. Alongside the blaze of flowers, look out for the two-storey brick gazebo begun in the 1660s and a horizontal heating flue with a little fireplace which was used to protect the fruit trees that once grew there.
  • The Double Borders flank the path leading from the house to the Yew Garden. Full of hellebores from late winter, pulmonaria from spring and eventually, Packwood’s famous alliums.
  • The Raised Terrace offers views back towards the house. In Graham Baron Ash’s time it was used as a stage for outdoor theatre performances with the audience sitting on the lawn below.

Not strictly part of the Carolean Garden, the Sunken Garden, just across the south lawn, is a typical Arts and Crafts creation. Its building was interrupted by wartime austerity in 1941, but it has now been completed as a dry garden with exotic desert plants.

A view of the house from the yew garden in spring at Packwood, Warwickshire
A view of the house from the yew garden in spring | © John Bayley

The Yew Garden

According to legend, the yew trees at Packwood represent the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and are over 350 years old. Walk up the centre of the garden past the multitude of ‘figures’ to reach the grand finale of Packwood’s formal garden: the spiral mount and its imposing ‘master’ yew. Follow the spiral path up the mount to get the best view of Packwood's famous Yew Garden.

There's a lot more information about the Yew Garden here

Further afield

Just a short walk away, you will find:

  • The Kitchen Garden has been recreated as it might have been in the 1700s when the Fetherstone family owned Packwood. Under the Victorians, kitchen gardens were a combination of beauty and commodity, providing abundant resources including less familiar herbs and flowers which grew amongst the vegetables. You can sample some of the produce in our Garden Kitchen Café.
  • The Memorial Orchard contains a variety of fruit trees, many planted in memory of lost loved ones. Apples, pears, damsons, quinces, plums, cherries and medlars of local varieties help to supply the Garden Kitchen Café.
  • Packwood’s Meadows surround the house. One of the oldest continuously maintained meadows, over 300 years old, is located to the south-east and south-west of Packwood Lane in what is known as the ‘Outer Court’. 

You can find out more about Packwood’s gardens, and how the garden team are looking after them by clicking here.

A visitor with her two children walking around the walled Kitchen Garden at Packwood House. The visitors are wrapped up warm in winter coats and the sky above them is grey with clouds.
Visitors exploring the walled garden at Packwood House, Warwickshire | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Family fun in the garden

There are lots of opportunities for family fun in the great outdoors at Packwood, from bird spotting to discovering wild animals. As you explore Packwood, pick up a seasonal spotter sheets to see how many signs of the season you can spot and tick them off along the way.

Grow - a new book by one of the gardeners at Packwood, Warwickshire
Learn how to "Grow" with Robyn Booth's new book. | © National Trust/Abi Chandler

Grow - a new gardening book

Robyn Booth, one of our gardeners, has spent the last year writing a beautiful book called Grow which has now been published. More of us than ever before are trying to balance busy, stressful lives with the need to take time out for ourselves once in a while. Gardening and being around plants is the perfect antidote to that hectic world out there, and once you’ve started there really is no going back. Whatever you’re into growing, you’ll be doing one of the best activities there is to support your mental and physical health, so grab those seeds, pick up the watering can and let’s grow!  

The book is available to buy from the shop at Packwood for £14.99

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