Visit to Scampston Walled Garden
6 August 2005

Although we were delayed in traffic between York and Malton, our coach party of 40 arrived full of enthusiasm to see this 4½ acre (1.8ha) walled garden, on sandy soil, which only opened in 2004. We were not disappointed. The co-operation between the owners, Sir Charles and Lady Legard, and the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf has resulted in a masterpiece. The layout is divided into rooms, each evoking a different mood. Overall, it successfully exploits many of the tensions between the classical and the romantic.

Entry is along the Plantsman's Walk. This extends around three sides of the garden wall and incorporates an avenue of young limes. The rest of the garden is hidden from view by a beech hedge, creating a sense of anticipation.

Much admired among the many gems were Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' with rich, red-purple, heart-shaped leaves, and the deeply-lobed foliage of Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex'.

(Plants are labelled by number and a booklet with cross-referenced names is provided.) 
Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex'
The walk opens dramatically into large, wavy Drifts of Grass using Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea, set diagonally in a lawn.

The brown-purple flowers shimmer in the breeze and generate a feeling of exhilaration.


Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea
Excitement builds further in the contemporary Perennial Garden , which probably represents Oudolf at his most familiar.

View of perennial meadow towards glasshouse
© Joan Chadwick

This bold design, divided into four by brick paths, with an oval dipping pond as the central feature, contained sumptuous passages of Achillea 'Summerwine', Monarda 'Scorpion', Salvia x sylvestris 'Blauhügel', Sedum telephium 'Matrona', and many others, contrasting with lighter pinks and blues such as Dianthus carthusianorum and misty Perovskia 'Blue Spire'.

At the edges, Panicum virgatum 'Rehbraun' had developed its attractive darker tones, and naturalistic-looking combinations had been made with Nepeta subsessilis, Origanum cultivars and masses of Sesleria nitida in front of Phlomis russeliana.

The bees and butterflies were busy and the overall effect was a joy to behold. 
Oval dipping pond
© Joan Chadwick
The centrepiece of the Woodland Grove is a large, see-through, oval bed of Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea 'Transparent' edged with soft-lilac Monarda 'Pawnee', bringing a strong aroma of bergamot close to the visitor.

Later in the season, the leaves of the many young katsuras (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) will give off their sweet smell of caramel. 
Centre of Woodland Grove
Another success, set in a meadow formally interspersed with Prunus x yedoensis, is The Mount: a grassed, frustated pyramid 16ft (5½m) high, with stairs, to allow a superb panoramic view of the whole garden.

The Silent Garden and the Cut Flower Garden are both impressive.

In the Spring Box Garden, and the Summer Box Garden, there are interpretations reminiscent of Chelsea 2000.

View from Mount over  Meadow and Sepentine Garden

Many enjoyed the good food available, and a wide assortment of eye-catching plants was of course purchased. The vision and implementation at Scampston are of the highest standard. Special thanks to Mike and others for inspiring this superb visit and to Elaine for so capably organising it; it was a real treat.

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