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Visiting the garden at Upton

A wide shot of a few cedar of Lebanon trees bordering the lawn at Upton House, Warwickshire
The iconic Cedar trees on the South Front at Upton | © National Trust Images/Rupert Truman

As you enter the historic garden, the view over the surrounding countryside unfolds in front of you. Walk to the end of the lawn and all is revealed, as the rows of terraced planting tumble down to the kitchen garden and Mirror Pool.

Mirror Pool

The Mirror Pool has been an iconic site at Upton since its installation in the 1920s and, apart from its brief covering during the war, it has sat glistening silently for thousands to enjoy.

In 2017, the team undertook important conservation work to restore it to its former glory.

The pool is fed from a natural spring in the corner of the garden, so with rainwater and the spring, the pool filled up within six months of the work being completed.

Plant life has started to re-grow gradually and you can see a selection of waterlilies and reeds surrounding the pool, which has encouraged birds and insects to return.

Man & two children looking out over the Mirror Pool in spring
Enjoy the Mirror Pool and wildlife | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Quiet Orchard

The orchard is a peaceful place with a great variety of birdlife; you can see, hear and enjoy the sounds of nature without any distractions. It is our silent space where you can take some time out and connect with nature.

The team is often asked why we leave the fruit on the trees and the ground in the orchard. Over the colder months of winter, the fruit sustains birds, animals and insects while food is in short supply.

Turn off your phone and immerse yourself in the spectacular surroundings. Throughout April and May, the trees start blossoming, a sight not to be missed.

South Lawn and Yew Tree Terrace

As you walk across the south terrace, take a moment to savour the views to the parkland beyond the South Lawn.

The avenues of sweet chestnut trees (Castanea sativa) can be seen in the distance, and the Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), planted in the 17th century, cling to the bank on the west side of the wall.

Summer in the garden

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the herbaceous borders which start the season with displays of Lupins, delphiniums, Iris and peonies with a sprinkling of Nigella, which makes a grand show with the reflections in the Mirror Pool. Look out for the ’May flies’ and ‘Dragons’ flying near the pools.

The second of the herbaceous borders is the double reflective border which runs down to the mirror pool on the east side of the garden. Plants you will see in flower from Mid-July until Mid-September include Perovskia, Rudbeckia, Solidago and Coreopsis with a continuous colour display of cool colours to hot colours as the border colour display is repeated three times. The lower area is still being planted, a work in progress by the gardening team.

The third herbaceous border to come into flower is the late aster border which has now been extended and is just short of 100m. It will start to flower from mid-August onwards with an abundance of mauve, blue and white flowering Asters and Symphyotrichum a great sight to see at the end of the flowering season.

Roses galore topple over the terraces, and the House borders are having their usual plant refresh for the summer. There will be tall rows of Dahlias, Chrysanthemums, Argyranthemum’s and Salvias which will flower until September.

Take a walk into the ornamental Kitchen Garden, a thriving area with a good selection of soft fruits and vegetables; these are picked on a regular basis and are usually sold for donations at the shop or used in the café, although we always leave some to go to seed and for everybody to see.

The Bog Garden is open intermittently due to the recent flooding over the last few years. In this area, you will see a different type of garden with drifts of Rodgersia, Ligularia, Hosta and Astilbes, over shadowed by the giant Cercidiphyllum trees with their distinctive smell of toffee apples in the autumn. The garden team are working hard in this area to regain the original planting schemes due to the loss of cultivated plants and shrubs.

Wildlife in the garden

The woods and lakes that form part of Upton’s natural landscape are a haven for wildlife. As well as the more common species that you might see in your own garden, many unusual and scarce species visit the gardens including great spotted woodpeckers and occasionally a red kite.

Green woodpecker perched on a twig at Avebury, Wiltshire
Look out for the green woodpeckers | © National Trust Images/Richard Bradshaw

Woodland birdlife

The surrounding woodland is rich in bird life. The trees and undergrowth make a perfect habitat for nesting and foraging for food. Listen and look out for green and great spotted woodpeckers drumming as well as the noisy rooks. You might also hear a medley of birdsong from blackbirds, robins and threatened species such as the blackcap, song thrush and spotted flycatcher.

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Woodland walk

The woodland is a haven for wildlife and a great place for the little ones to run wild and have some fun. Step into the woodland near visitor reception and you’ll discover logs to climb on, walk along and jump over, as well as tunnels that lead you round and rooms under the holly trees.

As you follow the path you'll discover more about our wildlife, before ending up at the Pavilion Café for a well-deserved treat.

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