I’ve been waiting all year to catch up on the drama that goes on at Dowtown Abbey. While I was happily watching this the last few Sundays, it mentioned how the Countess of Grantham loved her Gardens. The beauty of Downton Abbey is that it is a real place, where the drama is loosely based on the history of the Carnarvon family that owns Highclere Castle.
At Highclere Castle – ahem – Downton, there are numerous gardens. This estate has so many parts to it that are woven together to make it what it is. There is the stately home that many of us drool over. The home itself makes up only a small part of the estate, and there is so much more to explore. Highclere Castle has four historical gardens that flow into each other.
The Monks’ Garden – This garden was named for the Bishops of Winchester who owned the Estate for 800 years before the Carnarvon family acquired it in 1679. The records list in 1218 that there were 61 newly planted fruit trees. Recorded in 1364, 44 apple and 27 pear trees were planted. Today the garden is more decorative, with more perennial varieties of flowers. There are espaliered medlar and pear trees amongst yew topiary that flows into White Border Garden.
The White Border Garden – This garden houses ornamental pears, crambe, agapanthus, hydrangeas, roses, and other typical plants providing wonderful foliage throughout much of the year. It is the traditional English garden, mixed with a popular “white garden” feel.
The Secret Garden- A gate in the White Garden wall leads into the enchanting Secret Garden. Mostly herbaceous borders and winding paths, with some colour. A great place to meander.
The Wood of Goodwill – The most recent area to explore, you can find native trees, as well as unusual selections of recently planted beech and oak. Come spring the grassy areas are full of daffodils.
Around Downton itself(I mean Highclere), there is a simple design with a gravel driveway, and a parking/ carriage area surrounded by lawns. Patches of large conifer groups within the lawns ground the castle. Although the castle stands out on its own, it is perfectly placed within its large landscape of forest and meadows.
The gardens alone are something to be seen. But it does not stop there! The estate is enriched in so much history, drama, and architecture. – I can’t wait for the next episode, Is it Sunday yet?