By Claire Masset
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Extra resources for Secret Gardens of the National Trust
In Rock Dell, the old quarry showing the original rock face, it’s all about leaves: spear-shaped in the case of the phormiums, yuccas, astelias and cordylines, massive and deeply cut in the case of Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’. Dark tones are introduced with the purple, near-black foliage of Aeonium arboreum ‘Schwarzkopf’ and Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’. From here, steps take you to the topmost part of the garden, where an olive grove comes into sight; on a sunny day, with the azure sea before you, you could easily be in Sicily.
Elsewhere, eucryphias provide a show of white from summer through to autumn, while a fine collection of scented plants including viburnums, daphnes and jasmines add an extra dimension to the experience. Some of these, such as Oemleria cerasiformis with fragrant greenish-white blooms, flower during the late winter months, when the first snowdrops are just appearing. In keeping with the sisters’ love of nature, the garden is managed organically and is now, as it was in their day, both beautiful and productive.
Before the 1880s, the garden focused predominantly on the production of fruit and vegetables for the house, but Lady Mostyn changed all that. In 1884, she turned the large orchard into a formal rose garden as a wedding gift for her son. The orchard, meanwhile, was replanted at Galchog, the head gardener’s home a quarter of a mile away. On one of the top terraces – the site of a large cold frame – she created a rectangular lily pond, a typical Arts and Crafts feature. Perhaps her most striking achievement was to reinstate an ancient, possibly Jacobean, herb-filled parterre, inspired by an earlier design, the source of which remains a mystery.